or req·ui·em

[rek-wee-uh m, ree-kwee-, rey-]
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  1. Roman Catholic Church.
    1. Also called Requiem Mass.the Mass celebrated for the repose of the souls of the dead.
    2. a celebration of this Mass.
    3. a plainsong setting for this Mass.
  2. any musical service, hymn, or dirge for the repose of the dead.

Origin of Requiem

1275–1325; Middle English < Latin, accusative of requiēs rest (the first word of the introit of the mass for the dead) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for requiem


  1. RC Church a Mass celebrated for the dead
  2. a musical setting of this Mass
  3. any piece of music composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person or persons

Word Origin for Requiem

C14: from Latin requiēs rest, from the opening of the introit, Requiem aeternam dona eis Rest eternal grant unto them
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 requiem

"mass for repose of the soul of the dead," c.1300, from Latin requiem, accusative singular of requies "rest (after labor), repose," from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + quies "quiet" (see quiet (adj.)). It is the first word of the Mass for the Dead in the Latin liturgy: Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine .... ["Grant them eternal rest, O Lord ...."]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

requiem in Culture



In music, a Mass for one or more dead persons, containing biblical passages and prayers for the admission of the dead to heaven. The term has been loosely applied to other musical compositions in honor of the dead. A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, for example, uses texts from the Bible (see also Bible) but is not a Mass.

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.