[ durj ]
See synonyms for dirge on Thesaurus.com
  1. a funeral song or tune, or one expressing mourning in commemoration of the dead.

  2. 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.

  1. a mournful sound resembling a dirge: The autumn wind sang the dirge of summer.

  2. 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)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use dirge in a sentence

  • The victorious Republicans hardly knew whether to sing triumphant songs or funeral dirges.

  • I seem now to hear the dirges played by the bands, and the volleys fired by the soldiers over the graves of their dead comrades.

    A Raw Recruit's War Experiences | Ansel D. Nickerson
  • It is no mournful solemnity, with dirges and elegies for one about to die; but a Feast—a strange way of celebrating a death.

  • The musicians from the dance-halls turn out, play dirges, and with due pomp and ceremony the funeral is conducted.

  • Dirges were sung and the deceased was extolled, but when night came the lights were extinguished and the corpse was left alone.

    Auld Licht Idyls | J. M. Barrie

British Dictionary definitions for dirge


/ (dɜːdʒ) /

  1. a chant of lamentation for the dead

  2. the funeral service in its solemn or sung forms

  1. any mourning song or melody

Origin of dirge

C13: changed from Latin dīrigē direct (imperative), opening word of the Latin antiphon used in the office of the dead

Derived forms of dirge

  • dirgeful, adjective

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