• 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 virelay

Historical Examples of virelay

  • The virelay seems to have been in vogue in earlier English poetry.

    A History of English Versification

    Jakob Schipper

  • A Virelay is a poem in an unusual metre, of which examples are very rare.

  • This may be called a virelay in the English sense, and is possibly what Chaucer intended by that name.

  • We find, however, two fair examples of the Virelay in the poem of Anelida, viz.

  • The chevalier was singing a virelay which he accompanied by striking Rolande against the branches, then barren of foliage.

    The Barber of Paris

    Charles Paul de Kock

British Dictionary definitions for virelay


  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