[ el-i-jee ]
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noun,plural el·e·gies.
  1. a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.

  2. a poem written in elegiac meter.

  1. a sad or mournful musical composition.

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Origin of elegy

First recorded in 1505–15; from Middle French or directly from Latin elegīa, from Greek elegeîa “elegiac poem or inscription,” originally plural of elegeîon “a distich consisting of an hexameter and a penameter,” equivalent to éleg(os) “song, melody,” later “a lament” + -eios adjective suffix

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British Dictionary definitions for elegy


/ (ˈɛlɪdʒɪ) /

nounplural -gies
  1. a mournful or plaintive poem or song, esp a lament for the dead

  2. poetry or a poem written in elegiac couplets or stanzas

Origin of elegy

C16: via French and Latin from Greek elegeia, from elegos lament sung to flute accompaniment

confusable For elegy

Avoid confusion with eulogy

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

Cultural definitions for elegy


[ (el-uh-jee) ]

A form of poetry that mourns the loss of someone who has died or something that has deteriorated. A notable example is the “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” by Thomas Gray. (Compare eulogy.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.