can·​ti·​cle ˈkan-ti-kəl How to pronounce canticle (audio)
: song
specifically : one of several liturgical songs (such as the Magnificat) taken from the Bible

Example Sentences

the monks offered up a canticle at dawn on Easter morning
Recent Examples on the Web The first was Bach’s glorious 12-part canticle, premiered in 1723 as the conclusion of the Christmas Vespers in Leipzig as a sort of meet-your-new-cantor demonstration of his powers. Washington Post, 17 Dec. 2021 The first was that the canticle contains an encomium of Saint Dominic, who in Merwin’s eyes was the most villainous churchman of the Middle Ages. Robert Pogue Harrison, The New York Review of Books, 17 Aug. 2017 For many students of Dante, Purgatory is the Divine Comedy’s central canticle poetically, philosophically, and psychologically. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canticle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin canticulum, diminutive of canticum song, from cantus, past participle of canere

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of canticle was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near canticle

Cite this Entry

“Canticle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



can·​ti·​cle ˈkant-i-kəl How to pronounce canticle (audio)
: a song from the Bible used in church services

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