1. The subject of a speech, essay, thesis, or discourse.
2. A subject of discussion or conversation.
3. A subdivision of a theme, thesis, or outline. See Synonyms at subject.
4. Linguistics A word or phrase in a sentence, usually providing information from previous discourse or shared knowledge, that the rest of the sentence elaborates or comments on. Also called theme.
[Obsolete topic, rhetorical argument, sing. of Topics, title of a work by Aristotle, from Latin Topica, from Greek Topika, commonplaces, from neuter pl. of topikos, of a place, from topos, place.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.