Quickie: Theater vs. Theatre

September 21, 2007

antizimSomething I wondered about for a while is explained in this Chicago Sun-Times article.

In short: “ER is a facility, a room where you go and watch RE.”


6 Responses to “Quickie: Theater vs. Theatre”

  1. Trisha Says:

    I prefer to use “theatre,” myself. However, when I’m talking about going to the movies, I use theater. I never looked at “re” as being an elitist way of spelling it. I just like the old-English spelling of the word.

  2. Vox Says:

    I’ve always used -er for movies, -re for live shows, but I’ve seen your way in a lot of places as well (in fact, that’s what we do out here).

  3. Rachel Says:


    “-re” for live shows and the building in which live shows are held? Because I can definitely understand “-er” for movies, as you can’t see theatre in a movie theater.

    Uh, if that made sense.

  4. Justin Says:

    Taken from another sites comment:

    “Definition Revisited: Theater vs Theatre
    The use of the word “theatre” goes back to the turn of the 20th Century. Most of American society, particularly those who owned live theater venues, looked upon the new cinema art form as nothing more than a bawdy fad that would soon collapse under its own low-class offerings.

    To make a distinction between the “legitimate stage” and the cheap mass produced moving picture productions that had everyone seemingly getting their own piece of this new-fangled pie a line was drawn.

    This line divided those venues that offered specific types of entertainment. Live shows that performed on stages without screens remained “theaters” while the new form of entertainment, moving pictures, were shown on screens without a stage for live productions and were, therefore, called “theatres”.

    Having this unique spelling informed the public what type of entertainment they were going to see.

    Of course, the two-name distinction lost its relevance quickly once the general public began to embrace movies not as the bawdy display of yore but a medium that was growing in sophistication and class. Soon, both forms of entertainment were in the same venue. Comedy, dancing and singing acts would perform prior to the “shorts” which were followed by the “feature attraction” trailed (remember this word) by what was coming next week using snippets from that feature film that, in industry slang, became known as “trailers”. “

  5. amanda Says:

    im 15 and use theatre. some of my friends think its weird but it think its normal.

  6. Tommy Says:

    I agree with Vox. I use the -er spelling when referring to a movie or surround sound for my flat screen TV, but the -re spelling when referring to a play or a classical concert.

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