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[durj] /dɜrdʒ/
a funeral song or tune, or one expressing mourning in commemoration of the dead.
any composition resembling such a song or tune in character, as a poem of lament for the dead or solemn, mournful music:
Tennyson's dirge for the Duke of Wellington.
a mournful sound resembling a dirge:
The autumn wind sang the dirge of summer.
Ecclesiastical. the office of the dead, or the funeral service as sung.
Origin of dirge
1175-1225; Middle English dir(i)ge < Latin: direct, syncopated variant of dīrige (imperative of dīrigere), first word of the antiphon sung in the Latin office of the dead (Psalm V, 8) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dirge
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Sometimes, by way of providing a varied entertainment, they sing a dirge.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • But it was only the cold wind from the mountains whistling a dirge.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • It was a dirge, which he was intoning as he bent over the cookstove.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • "Neither did he," he observed, and began to whistle what sounded like a dirge.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The entrance to the room where the Bella figlia had been succeeded by a dirge, was blocked.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • But my dread of that dirge kept me from accepting these invitations.

    My Reminiscences Rabindranath Tagore
  • For us it may be a pæan or it may be a dirge, and only the gods know which!

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for dirge


a chant of lamentation for the dead
the funeral service in its solemn or sung forms
any mourning song or melody
Derived Forms
dirgeful, adjective
Word Origin
C13: changed from Latin dīrigē direct (imperative), opening word of the Latin antiphon used in the office of the dead
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dirge

early 13c., dirige (current contracted form is from c.1400), from Latin dirige "direct!" imperative of dirigere "to direct," probably from antiphon Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam, "Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight," from Psalm v:9, which opened the Matins service in the Office of the Dead. Transferred sense of "any funeral song" is from c.1500.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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