Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


An old amphitheatre.
A modern amphitheatre.
Bryce Amphitheater in Utah, a 12 mile (19 km) long, 3 mile (5 km) wide, 800 foot (240 m) deep natural amphitheatre.


From Latin amphitheatrum, from Ancient Greek ἀμφιθέατρον (amphithéatron).



amphitheatre (plural amphitheatres)

  1. An open, outdoor theatre (which may be a theatre in the round, or have a stage with seating on only one side), especially one from the classical period of ancient Greece or Rome, or a modern venue of similar design.
    Ancient Roman amphitheatres were mostly oval or circular in plan, with seating tiers that surrounded the central performance area, like a modern open-air stadium.
    • 1816, John Cam Hobhouse Baron Broughton, The Substance of Some Letters, page 192:
      We had previously visited the building prepared for the assemblage, which was a vast pentagonal semicircular amphitheatre of painted wood and canvas work, ...
    • 1994, J. A. B. Somerset, Shropshire, University of Toronto Press, →ISBN, page 388:
      The dry quarry in Shrewsbury [was] in use from at least 1445-6 [...until] 1568-9 (and perhaps beyond)[. ...] Location of this as the site of a semicircular amphitheatre [used in the 1400s and 1500s] is confirmed by the evidence, published in total for the first time in the present volume.
  2. (geology) A natural formation of a similar shape, where a steep mountain or slope a particular rock formation forms a partial or compete bowl, especially one used as a performance space (and possibly modified by carving out seats, etc) because the slopes naturally amplify or echo sound.
    • 1902, Charles Oman, A History of the Peninsular War, page 188:
      The difference between the approach to Baylen from the west and from the east, is that on the former side the traveller reaches the town through a semicircular amphitheatre of upland, while by the latter he comes up a V-shaped valley ...
    • 1939 September, A. F. N. Barnsdale, “The Neath & Brecon Railway”, in Railway Magazine, page 188:
      Brecon or Aberhonddu, a typical Welsh town of 5,350 inhabitants, stands in a grand amphitheatre of hills and mountains at the confluence of the rivers Usk, Honddu, and Tarell.

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  1. ^ amphitheatre”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
  2. ^ Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage (2008): "AMPITHEATER/AMPHITHEATER The classy way to pronounce the first syllable of this word is "amf," but if you choose the more popular "amp" remember that you still have to include the H after the P when spelling it."