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Definition of thesis noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

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Find the answers with Practical English Usage online, your indispensable guide to problems in English.

  • formulate/advance a theory/hypothesis
  • build/construct/create/develop a simple/theoretical/mathematical model
  • develop/establish/provide/use a theoretical/conceptual framework/an algorithm
  • advance/argue/develop the thesis that…
  • explore an idea/a concept/a hypothesis
  • make a prediction/an inference
  • base a prediction/your calculations on something
  • investigate/evaluate/accept/challenge/reject a theory/hypothesis/model
  • design an experiment/a questionnaire/a study/a test
  • do research/an experiment/an analysis
  • make observations/calculations
  • take/record measurements
  • carry out/conduct/perform an experiment/a test/a longitudinal study/observations/clinical trials
  • run an experiment/a simulation/clinical trials
  • repeat an experiment/a test/an analysis
  • replicate a study/the results/the findings
  • observe/study/examine/investigate/assess a pattern/a process/a behavior
  • fund/support the research/project/study
  • seek/provide/get/secure funding for research
  • collect/gather/extract data/information
  • yield data/evidence/similar findings/the same results
  • analyze/examine the data/soil samples/a specimen
  • consider/compare/interpret the results/findings
  • fit the data/model
  • confirm/support/verify a prediction/a hypothesis/the results/the findings
  • prove a conjecture/hypothesis/theorem
  • draw/make/reach the same conclusions
  • read/review the records/literature
  • describe/report an experiment/a study
  • present/publish/summarize the results/findings
  • present/publish/read/review/cite a paper in a scientific journal

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Quick Reference

An argument or proposition, which may be opposed by an antithesis; or a scholarly essay defending some proposition, usually a dissertation submitted for an academic degree. The thesis of a literary work is its abstract doctrinal content, that is, a proposition for which it argues. For ‘thesis novel’, see roman à thèse; for ‘thesis play’, see problem play.

From:   thesis   in  The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms »

Subjects: Linguistics

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Reference entries, thesis and antithesis.

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Meaning of thesis in English

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  • I wrote my thesis on literacy strategies for boys .
  • Her main thesis is that children need a lot of verbal stimulation .
  • boilerplate
  • composition
  • dissertation
  • essay question
  • peer review

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

thesis | American Dictionary

Examples of thesis, collocations with thesis.

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thesis meaning in english oxford

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thesis-play noun

  • Show all quotations

What does the noun thesis-play mean?

There is one meaning in OED's entry for the noun thesis-play . See ‘Meaning & use’ for definition, usage, and quotation evidence.

Entry status

OED is undergoing a continuous programme of revision to modernize and improve definitions. This entry has not yet been fully revised.

How common is the noun thesis-play ?

Where does the noun thesis-play come from.

Earliest known use

The earliest known use of the noun thesis-play is in the 1900s.

OED's earliest evidence for thesis-play is from 1902, in Edinburgh Review .

thesis-play is formed within English, by compounding.

Etymons: thesis n. , play n.

Nearby entries

  • these, n. a1600–48
  • these, pron. & adj. Old English–
  • Thesean, adj. 1815–
  • Theseid, n. 1725–
  • Theseium, n. 1819–
  • these-like, adj. 1644–
  • thesial, adj. 1654
  • thesicle, n. 1863–
  • thesis, n. a1398–
  • thesis-novel, n. 1934–
  • thesis-play, n. 1902–
  • thesmophilist, n. 1644–
  • Thesmophorian, adj. 1891–
  • Thesmophoric, adj. 1788–
  • thesmothete, n. 1603–
  • thesocyte, n. 1887–
  • thesp, n. 1962–
  • Thespian, adj. & n. 1675–
  • Thespianism, n. 1914–
  • Thessalian, adj. & n. 1594–
  • thester, n. Old English–1540

Meaning & use

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Entry history for thesis-play, n.

Originally published as part of the entry for thesis, n.

thesis, n. was first published in 1912; not yet revised

Revision of the OED is a long-term project. Entries in oed.com which have not been revised may include:

  • corrections and revisions to definitions, pronunciation, etymology, headwords, variant spellings, quotations, and dates;
  • new senses, phrases, and quotations which have been added in subsequent print and online updates.

Earlier versions of thesis, n. were published in:

OED First Edition (1912)

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OED Second Edition (1989)

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Citation details

Factsheet for thesis-play, n., browse entry.

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Definition of 'thesis'

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thesis in British English

Thesis in american english, examples of 'thesis' in a sentence thesis, cobuild collocations thesis, trends of thesis.

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In other languages thesis

  • American English : thesis / ˈθisɪs /
  • Brazilian Portuguese : tese
  • Chinese : 论点
  • European Spanish : tesis
  • French : thèse
  • German : These
  • Italian : tesi
  • Japanese : 主張
  • Korean : 논지
  • European Portuguese : tese
  • Latin American Spanish : tesis
  • Thai : ข้อสมมุติ, ข้อวินิจฉัย

Browse alphabetically thesis

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  • central thesis
  • doctoral thesis
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Definition of thesis

Did you know.

In high school, college, or graduate school, students often have to write a thesis on a topic in their major field of study. In many fields, a final thesis is the biggest challenge involved in getting a master's degree, and the same is true for students studying for a Ph.D. (a Ph.D. thesis is often called a dissertation ). But a thesis may also be an idea; so in the course of the paper the student may put forth several theses (notice the plural form) and attempt to prove them.

Examples of thesis in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thesis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

in sense 3, Middle English, lowering of the voice, from Late Latin & Greek; Late Latin, from Greek, downbeat, more important part of a foot, literally, act of laying down; in other senses, Latin, from Greek, literally, act of laying down, from tithenai to put, lay down — more at do

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a(1)

Dictionary Entries Near thesis

the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children

thesis novel

Cite this Entry

“Thesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thesis. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of thesis, more from merriam-webster on thesis.

Nglish: Translation of thesis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thesis for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about thesis

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  • 1.1 Etymology
  • 1.2 Pronunciation
  • 1.3.1 Derived terms
  • 1.3.2 Related terms
  • 1.3.3 Translations
  • 1.4 References
  • 1.5 Further reading
  • 1.6 Anagrams
  • 2.1 Etymology
  • 2.2 Pronunciation
  • 3.1 Etymology
  • 3.2 Pronunciation
  • 3.3.1 Declension
  • 3.3.2 Descendants
  • 3.4 References

English [ edit ]

Etymology [ edit ].

From Late Middle English thesis ( “ lowering of the voice ” ) [1] and also borrowed directly from its etymon Latin thesis ( “ proposition, thesis; lowering of the voice ” ) , from Ancient Greek θέσῐς ( thésis , “ arrangement, placement, setting; conclusion, position, thesis; lowering of the voice ” ) , from τῐ́θημῐ ( títhēmi , “ to place, put, set; to put down in writing; to consider as, regard ” ) [2] [3] (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeh₁- ( “ to do; to place, put ” ) ) + -σῐς ( -sis , suffix forming abstract nouns or nouns of action, process, or result ) . The English word is a doublet of deed .

Sense 1.1 (“proposition or statement supported by arguments”) is adopted from antithesis . [2] Sense 1.4 (“initial stage of reasoning”) was first used by the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), and later applied to the dialectical method of his countryman, the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831).

The plural form theses is borrowed from Latin thesēs , from Ancient Greek θέσεις ( théseis ) .

Pronunciation [ edit ]

  • ( Received Pronunciation ) IPA ( key ) : /ˈθiːsɪs/ , ( archaic ) /ˈθɛsɪs/
  • ( General American ) IPA ( key ) : /ˈθisɪs/
  • Rhymes: -iːsɪs
  • Hyphenation: the‧sis
  • ( Received Pronunciation ) IPA ( key ) : /ˈθiːsiːz/
  • ( General American ) IPA ( key ) : /ˈθisiz/
  • Rhymes: -iːsiːz
  • Hyphenation: the‧ses

Noun [ edit ]

thesis ( plural theses )

  • ( rhetoric ) A proposition or statement supported by arguments .
  • 1766 , [ Oliver Goldsmith ], “The Conclusion”, in The Vicar of Wakefield:   [ … ] , volume II, Salisbury, Wiltshire: [ … ] B. Collins, for F [ rancis ] Newbery ,   [ … ] , →OCLC ; reprinted London: Elliot Stock , 1885 , →OCLC , pages 218–219 : I told them of the grave, becoming, and ſublime deportment they ſhould aſſume upon this myſtical occaſion, and read them two homilies and a theſis of my own compoſing, in order to prepare them.
  • ( mathematics , computer science ) A conjecture , especially one too vague to be formally stated or verified but useful as a working convention.
  • ( logic ) An affirmation , or distinction from a supposition or hypothesis .
  • ( philosophy ) In the dialectical method of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel : the initial stage of reasoning where a formal statement of a point is developed ; this is followed by antithesis and synthesis .
  • ( music , prosody , originally ) The action of lowering the hand or bringing down the foot when indicating a rhythm ; hence, an accented part of a measure of music or verse indicated by this action; an ictus , a stress . Antonym: arsis
  • ( music , prosody , with a reversal of meaning ) A depression of the voice when pronouncing a syllables of a word ; hence, the unstressed part of the metrical foot of a verse upon which such a depression falls , or an unaccented musical note .

Derived terms [ edit ]

  • all but thesis
  • bachelor's thesis
  • Church-Turing thesis
  • conflict thesis
  • doctoral thesis
  • graduate thesis
  • master's thesis
  • Merton thesis
  • private language thesis
  • thesis defense
  • thesis film
  • thesis statement

Related terms [ edit ]

Translations [ edit ], references [ edit ].

  • ^ “ thē̆sis, n. ”, in MED Online , Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan , 2007.
  • ^ “ thesis, n. ”, in Lexico , Dictionary.com ; Oxford University Press , 2019–2022.

Further reading [ edit ]

  • “ thesis ”, in The Century Dictionary   [ … ] , New York, N.Y.: The Century Co. , 1911, →OCLC .
  • “ thesis ”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary , Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam , 1913, →OCLC .

Anagrams [ edit ]

  • Heists , Sethis , heists , shiest , shites , sithes , thises

Dutch [ edit ]

From Latin thesis , from Ancient Greek θέσις ( thésis , “ a proposition, a statement, a thing laid down, thesis in rhetoric, thesis in prosody ” ) .

thesis   f ( plural theses or thesissen , diminutive thesisje   n )

  • Dated form of these . Synonyms: dissertatie , proefschrift , scriptie

Latin [ edit ]

From Ancient Greek θέσις ( thésis , “ a proposition, a statement, a thing laid down, thesis in rhetoric, thesis in prosody ” ) .

  • ( Classical ) IPA ( key ) : /ˈtʰe.sis/ , [ˈt̪ʰɛs̠ɪs̠]
  • ( modern Italianate Ecclesiastical ) IPA ( key ) : /ˈte.sis/ , [ˈt̪ɛːs̬is]

thesis   f ( genitive thesis ) ; third declension

Declension [ edit ]

Descendants [ edit ].

  • → Dutch: thesis
  • → Armenian: թեզ ( tʿez )
  • → Dutch: these
  • → Persian: تز ‎ ( tez )
  • → Romanian: teză
  • → Turkish: tez
  • Galician: tese
  • Italian: tesi
  • English: thesis
  • Portuguese: tese
  • Spanish: tesis
  • “ thesis ”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary , Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • thesis in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français , Hachette

thesis meaning in english oxford

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The Document Centre

What’s the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?

by Mark at Pilot | Theses & Dissertations

Thesis vs Dissertation

So what is the difference between a university thesis and a university dissertation?  Is there even a difference?  Having  printed and bound  thousands of both, even we were confused, so decided to find out.

Dictionary definitions of ‘thesis’ and ‘dissertation’

Our first stops were a couple of popular English Dictionaries, which showed the following definitions:

(Oxford English Dictionary):  “A long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a university degree.”

(Collins English Dictionary):  “A dissertation resulting from original research, especially when submitted by a candidate for a degree or diploma.”

Hmmm. So they’re both using ‘dissertation’ to partly explain ‘thesis’. Not a hugely clear start, although they do mention the involvement of “personal research” or “original research” which might well have some significance, as we’ll see later.


(Oxford English Dictionary): “A long essay on a particular subject, especially one written for a university degree or diploma.”

(Collins English Dictionary):  “A written thesis, often based on original research, usually required for a higher degree.”

Hmmm. Again, they don’t really tell us much about the difference, if any; one uses ‘thesis’ as part of the definition of a ‘dissertation’, which doesn’t help us understand any difference clearly and, again, one (but in this case, not both) definitions mention the ‘original research’ detail. So, for me, the jury is still out.

We tried another source … and another … and another. It seems that, to an extent, the terms ‘thesis’ and ‘dissertation’ seem to be interchangeable and both refer to an extensive paper that is assigned to a student studying for a degree at a university or other institution. But we already knew that, of course. However, there  are  differences for some institutions and for some countries. We’ll concentrate here on the UK though.

One apparent difference that’s accepted by some, and is shown currently in Google’s top result 1 , is that a thesis is undertaken while studying for a master’s degree, while a dissertation is usually undertaken for a doctorate degree. Years back I studied for a Bachelor’s degree, specifically a BA(Hons), I too wrote what we then referred to as a  dissertation . However, this theory about the difference being linked to the type of higher degree doesn’t hold water for me, as I fit into neither the doctorate nor the master’s category as I was studying for an  undergraduate  degree!

Another school of thought, according to a few 2  (but I’m now not convinced) is that a  thesis  requires the author to demonstrate his or her understanding of a particular field of study, citing research and work previously undertaken by others within that field, without necessarily having to generate any new, original research. Based upon that, the student formulates their proposition, forms a conclusion following an analysis of all the research, resulting in their ‘thesis’ on the matter.

In contrast to that, they go on to suggest that a  dissertation’s  key focus is  original  (new) research on the part of the student — i.e. a contribution of  new knowledge . One of the key aims of a dissertation, they say, is to focus on a very specific area of study that has previously not been researched. Moreover, the student in question is required to come up with a hypothesis and to use their  original  research in order to make some kind of conclusion about their initial hypothesis.

So, based at least upon that description above, one would think that I wrote a thesis rather than a dissertation, after all. However, it seems that my question has opened a can of worms because the more I visit online forums and even ‘authority’ websites, the more I realise that most definitions completely switch those two meanings around. It seems that the complete opposite is true, at least according to the majority of the sources I checked. I carried on digging …

University definitions

University College London describes a PhD thesis 3  as: “the acquisition and dissemination of new knowledge … It is important that “new” is not just new to the researcher, but also to the community.” So it’s switched around. A thesis requires new research.

Oxford University’s description of its thesis requirements seems to agree 4 , stating “ Most of the thesis should be devoted to the matters to which you have made a contribution. Your own work must be presented in reasonable detail and with clarity … A concluding chapter should summarise what has been learned as a result of your work, show its significance, its relation to other work “. I read the part about ‘ matters to which you have made a contribution ‘ as being more along the lines of ‘new research’ once again.

However, bouncing it back around yet again is the University of Cambridge which states 5  that they need to be satisfied that a  dissertation  (as opposed to thesis)  “takes account of previously published work on the subject”  AND  “represents a contribution to learning” .

It’s infuriating!

thesis meaning in english oxford

In conclusion

For me, it’s evident that ‘dissertation’ and ‘thesis’ are interchangeable in practice but not all institutions will agree that this should be the case. It’s also evident that the alleged link to the type of higher degree (master’s vs. doctorate) doesn’t totally hold water as undergraduates also write dissertations (or …  ahem … theses?). Lastly, I’d say that, based upon the evidence I’ve seen, ‘new research’ and ‘new knowledge’ is most commonly associated with a thesis rather than a dissertation, but even that is not the case for everyone (including, you’ll have noted above, the University of Cambridge). So …

Advice to university students

In light of the evident and widespread confusion — or at least  conflicting beliefs  around what constitutes a thesis or dissertation — it will be incredibly important that students clarify which of the two types of research the examiners are looking for —  original  research contributing  new knowledge  and a hypothesis, or a demonstration of  their understanding of existing research  and a concluding theory. The difference sounds subtle enough but the nature and intention of the journey are completely different. And each university, or indeed individual faculties, may well apply different terminology.

Printing & binding

So what’s it to us? Well,  we print and bind theses and dissertations  for many of the UK’s university students. All are produced to university guidelines (except, of course, where a bespoke bookbinding approach is requested). We offer a walk-in thesis/dissertation printing and binding service at our London shop and a full  online ordering alternative . We don’t mind whether your university paper is called a thesis or dissertation, of course, but what we do care about is high quality, great craftsmanship (bookbinding is still largely done by hand), great customer service, value for money and a timely turnaround. All of this is available for university theses and dissertations along with many options for finish, extras (register ribbons, pockets etc.), delivery and turnaround. See our online ordering page for more detail or call us on  020 7928 9738  and we’ll be delighted to help.

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  4. thesis noun

    thesis · ​. thesis (on something) a long piece of writing completed by a student as part of a university degree, based on their own research · ​. thesis (that…) a

  5. thesis noun

    1thesis (on something) a long piece of writing completed by a student as part of a university degree, based on their own research Students must submit a

  6. Thesis

    The thesis of a literary work is its abstract doctrinal content, that is, a proposition for which it argues. For 'thesis novel', see roman à thèse; for 'thesis


    the main idea, opinion, or theory of a person, group, piece of writing, or speech: Their main thesis was that war was inevitable.

  8. thesis, n. meanings, etymology and more

    thesis, n. meanings, etymology, pronunciation and more in the Oxford English Dictionary.

  9. thesis-play, n. meanings, etymology and more

    thesis-play, n. meanings, etymology, pronunciation and more in the Oxford English Dictionary.

  10. THESIS definition and meaning

    A thesis is an idea or theory that is expressed as a statement and is discussed in a logical way. This thesis does not stand up to close inspection. ...the

  11. Thesis Definition & Meaning

    Send us feedback about these examples. Word History. Etymology. in sense 3, Middle English, lowering of

  12. Thesis

    A thesis ( pl. : theses), or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional

  13. thesis

    The plural form theses is borrowed from Latin thesēs, from Ancient Greek θέσεις (théseis). Pronunciation edit · Singular: (Received Pronunciation) IPA

  14. What's the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?

    Thesis: (Oxford English Dictionary): “A long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a university degree.” (Collins