Definition of soap opera noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


soap opera

BrE BrE//ˈsəʊp ɒprə//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈsoʊp ɑːprə//
(informal soap) [countable, uncountable] Radio broadcasting, TV shows
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a story about the lives and problems of a group of people which is broadcast every day or several times a week on television or radio the longest-running soap opera on British television CollocationsTelevisionWatching watch television/​TV/​a show/(British English) a programme/(North American English) a program/​a documentary/​a pilot/​a rerun/​a repeat see (especially British English) an ad/(especially North American English) a commercial/​the news/​the weather catch/​miss a show/​a programme/​a program/​an episode/​the news pick up/​reach for/​grab the remote (control) change/​switch channel surf (through)/ (especially North American English) flip through/ (especially British English) flick through the channels sit in front of/​switch on/​switch off/​turn on/​turn off the television/​the TV/​the TV set have/​install satellite (TV)/cable (TV)/a satellite dishShowing show a programme/​a documentary/​an ad/​a commercial screen a programme/​a documentary run an ad/​a commercial broadcast/ (especially North American English) air/​repeat a show/​a programme/​a documentary/​an episode/​a series go out/​air/​be recorded live attract/​draw (in)/pull (in) viewers be a hit with viewers/​audiences/​critics get (low/​high) ratingsAppearing be on/​appear on television/​TV/​a TV show take part in a phone-in/​a game show/​a quiz show/​a reality TV show host a show/​a programme/​series/​a game show/​a quiz show/​a talk show/(British English) a chat show be/​become/​work as a/​an (British English) TV presenter/​talk-show host/​sports commentator/​anchorman/(British English) newsreader read/​present the news appear/​perform live (on TV)Programme-making do/​film/​make a show/​a programme/​a documentary/​an episode/​a pilot/​a series/​an ad/​a commercial work on a soap (opera)/a pilot (episode)/a sitcom write/​produce a drama/​sitcom/​spin-off/​comedy series See related entries: Radio broadcasting, TV shows Word Origin1930s: so named because such serials were originally sponsored in the US by soap manufacturers. Culturesoap operasSoap operas, also called soaps, are among the most popular television programmes. They are stories about the lives of ordinary people that are broadcast, usually in half-hour episodes, three times or more each week. Episodes broadcast during the week are often repeated in a single omnibus programme at the weekend. They are called soap operas because in the US they were first paid for by companies who made soap. Most soap operas have their own website and some people buy books about their favourite soap and visit the places where the stories are supposed to happen.Most soap operas describe the daily lives of a small group of people who live in the same street or town or who work in the same place such as a hospital. The most successful soaps reflect the worries and hopes of real people, though the central characters frequently have exaggerated personal problems in order to make the programmes more exciting. Some storylines (= themes in the story) deal with sensitive social issues, such as alcoholism and racism.In Britain soap operas are usually broadcast in the early evening. The longest-running soap opera in the world is The Archers, ‘an everyday story of country folk’, which began on BBC radio in the 1950s. The most popular of the television soaps are ITV's Coronation Street (first broadcast in 1960) and its main rival, the BBC's EastEnders. Other popular soaps include ITV's Emmerdale. Neighbours and Home and Away, both from Australia, are aimed at younger audiences. In the US, soap operas are also called daytime dramas. A few, like Dynasty and Dallas, have been successful in the evenings, but most soaps are broadcast during the afternoon. Though soaps have a limited audience, the names of many of the long-running ones, e.g. Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Young and the Restless, are well known. Many people who watch soaps have one or two favourites which they try never to miss.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: soap opera