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1. A sentimental, melodramatic serialized program, especially for television, often panned for having shallow, unrealistic characters and storylines. The name alludes to the fact that early radio shows of this type were sponsored by soap companies. I used to roll my eyes at the soap operas my mother watched, but now I'm completely hooked on them, too. The only thing the people in my office discuss are the latest scandals in the various soap operas they all follow.
2. By extension, a situation that is so melodramatic or sensational as to be reminiscent of such a show. Why does every relationship Jeff gets into turn into a soap opera? I swear, he looks for drama like this.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. A radio or television serial with stock characters in domestic dramas that are noted for being sentimental and melodramatic. For example, She just watches soap operas all day long. This term originated in the mid-1930s and was so called because the sponsors of the earliest such radio shows were often soap manufacturers.
2. Real-life situation resembling one that might occur in a soap opera, as in She just goes on and on about her various medical and family problems, one long soap opera . [1940s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.