a verse or song to be chanted or sung in response.
  1. a psalm, hymn, or prayer sung in alternate parts.
  2. a verse or a series of verses sung as a prelude or conclusion to some part of the service.

Origin of antiphon

1490–1500; < Medieval Latin antiphōna responsive singing < Greek () antíphōna, neuter plural of antíphōnos sounding in answer, equivalent to anti- anti- + phōn(ḗ) sound + -os adj. suffix. Cf. anthem Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for antiphon

Historical Examples of antiphon

  • The people demanded of Antiphon the meaning of these visions.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Yes, he said, and the name of our brother, Antiphon; but why do you ask?

  • In this context some discussions with Antiphon the sophist deserve record.

  • But there was Antiphon—son to Menecrates—and a whole mina; why not him?

  • It is a coincidence, if not something more, that puts the antiphon O Oriens!

    Ortus Christi

    Mother St. Paul

British Dictionary definitions for antiphon



a short passage, usually from the Bible, recited or sung as a response after certain parts of a liturgical service
a psalm, hymn, etc, chanted or sung in alternate parts
any response or answer

Word Origin for antiphon

C15: from Late Latin antiphōna sung responses, from Late Greek, plural of antiphōnon (something) responsive, from antiphōnos, from anti- + phōnē sound
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 antiphon

c.1500, "a versicle sung responsively," from Middle French antiphone "hymn" or directly from Medieval Latin antiphona, from Greek antiphona, from anti- "over against" (see anti-) + phone "voice" (see fame (n.)). A re-adoption of the word which had become anthem in English and lost its original meaning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper