• synonyms


or vir·e·lai

noun Prosody.
  1. an old French form of short poem, composed of short lines running on two rhymes and having two opening lines recurring at intervals.
  2. any of various similar or other forms of poem, as one consisting of stanzas made up of longer and shorter lines, the lines of each kind rhyming together in each stanza, and having the rhyme of the shorter lines of one stanza forming the rhyme of the longer lines of the next stanza.
  3. a medieval song form providing a musical setting for a virelay but having a formal structure different from that of the poem.
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Origin of virelay

1350–1400; Middle English < Old French virelai, alteration (see lay4) of vireli, virli jingle used as the refrain of a song
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for virelai

Historical Examples of virelai

  • What shall I weave for thee—what shall I spin— Rondel, or rondeau, or virelai?

    The Book of Humorous Verse


  • As to the Virelai, this species of lyric was nery fashionable in Chaucers time.

    Chaucer for Children

    Mrs. H. R. Haweis

  • Charles Cotton, one of whose rondeaus has been quoted, also wrote a virelai.

    English Verse

    Raymond MacDonald Alden, Ph.D.

  • The Lai and the Virelai are so nearly related that they must be considered together.

  • The Virelai (ancien) is a lai that preserves a sequence of rhymes throughout.

British Dictionary definitions for virelai


  1. an old French verse form, rarely used in English, consisting of short lines arranged in stanzas having only two rhymes, and two opening lines recurring at intervals
  2. any of various similar forms
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Word Origin for virelay

C14: from Old French virelai, probably from vireli (associated with lai lay 4), meaningless word used as a refrain
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