\ ˈdərj How to pronounce dirge (audio) \

Definition of dirge

1 : a song or hymn of grief or lamentation especially : one intended to accompany funeral or memorial rites a funeral dirge
2 : a slow, solemn, and mournful piece of music
3 : something (such as a poem) that has the qualities of a dirge

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Other Words from dirge

dirgelike \ ˈdərj-​ˌlīk How to pronounce dirge (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

The meaning of English dirge is not directly related to the meaning of the Latin word it comes from. Dirge and its earlier form dirige, meaning "a song or hymn of mourning," come from the first word of a Latin chant used in the church service for the dead: "Dirige, Domine deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam." (Direct, O Lord my God, my way in thy sight). Because hymns and chants were often referred to by their first words, dirge became the common word for this chant. Later it was used for any slow, solemn piece of music.

Examples of dirge in a Sentence

bagpipes played a haunting dirge at the funeral for the fallen leader
Recent Examples on the Web As the flames consume Beowulf’s corpse, a nameless woman sings a dirge about the humiliations and captivity to come. Irina Dumitrescu, The New York Review of Books, "Dudes Without Heirs," 17 Nov. 2020 What sounds at first like an upbeat show tune soon transforms into a dirge for Black Americans who’ve been brutally killed across the South. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "From Nina Simone to Kendrick Lamar, The Songs That Call Us to Social Action," 12 Nov. 2020 Many country-blues songs already have a mesmeric, almost ghostly quality; Reed adds dissonance and drone, turning the song into a meandering dirge. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Harry Smith’s Musical Catalogue of Human Experience," 28 Sep. 2020 Other environmental sounds, like the tolling bell, bring to mind noises that could practically be diegetic, like the distant dirge of a mission bell. Jeva Lange, TheWeek, "How Ennio Morricone won the West," 6 July 2020 By December, with many protesters exhausted after they were routed in a fiery campus siege, the singing sounded like a funeral dirge. Suzanne Sataline, The Atlantic, "The Challenge to China From Hong Kong's 'Sense of Country'," 21 May 2020 Last year’s meetings in Las Vegas were like an extravagant party with an empty dance floor and a funeral dirge droning in the background. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "The Biggest Winner of the Winter Meetings? Scott Boras," 12 Dec. 2019 The dirge-like tempo speeds up and hurtles to a close, a runaway train charging into the black. Greg Kot, chicagotribune.com, "Sturgill Simpson review: ‘Sound & Fury’ aims to blow up speakers and country music boundaries," 26 Sep. 2019 On the way to the finale, Cats requires audiences to sit through slapstick numbers by Rebel Wilson and James Cordon (both playing cats whose main traits are their weight and laziness) and deeply serious dirge-like songs sung by Dench and McKellen. Tyler Coates, Wired, "Cats Is as Terrible as the Internet Guessed It Might Be," 19 Dec. 2019

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

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First Known Use of dirge

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dirge

Middle English dirige, the Office of the Dead, from the first word of a Late Latin antiphon, from Latin, imperative of dirigere to direct — more at dress

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Time Traveler for dirge

Time Traveler

The first known use of dirge was in the 13th century

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Cite this Entry

“Dirge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dirge. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for dirge



English Language Learners Definition of dirge

: a slow song that expresses sadness or sorrow

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More from Merriam-Webster on dirge

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dirge

Nglish: Translation of dirge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dirge for Arabic Speakers

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