[an-thuh m]


a song, as of praise, devotion, or patriotism: the national anthem of Spain; our college anthem.
a piece of sacred vocal music, usually with words taken from the Scriptures.
a hymn sung alternately by different sections of a choir or congregation.

verb (used with object)

to celebrate with or in an anthem.

Origin of anthem

before 1000; Middle English antem, Old English antemn(e), antefne < Late Latin antefana, antiphōna (feminine singular) < Greek antíphōna (see antiphon); spelling with h probably by association with hymn, with pronunciation then changed to reflect spelling Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for anthem

Contemporary Examples of anthem

Historical Examples of anthem

  • Handel's anthem was performed by 80 singers and 100 instrumentalists.


    Edward J. Dent

  • He could hear the music of the organ, and presently the choir began to sing an anthem.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • He ended the anthem, as he had commenced it, in the midst of a grave and solemn stillness.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • "Certainly not," returned Everard, and so the anthem was omitted.

    Isabel Leicester

    Clotilda Jennings

  • I want to play the organ on Sunday morning, and he must let us do an anthem.

    The Green Carnation

    Robert Smythe Hichens

British Dictionary definitions for anthem



a song of loyalty or devotion, as to a nation or collegea national anthem
a musical composition for a choir, usually set to words from the Bible, sung as part of a church service
a religious chant sung antiphonally
a popular rock or pop song
Derived Formsanthemic (ænˈθɛmɪk), adjective

Word Origin for anthem

Old English antemne, from Late Latin antiphōna antiphon
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

Word Origin and History for anthem

Old English ontemn, antefn, "a composition (in prose or verse) sung antiphonally," from Late Latin antefana, from Greek antiphona "verse response" (see antiphon). Sense evolved to "a composition set to sacred music" (late 14c.), then "song of praise or gladness" (1590s). Used in reference to the English national song (technically, as OED points out, a hymn) and extended to those of other nations. Modern spelling is from late 16c., perhaps an attempt to make the word look more Greek.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper