\ 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

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 Helping pull the whole construct together is Hazma Bouchnak’s original score, which stretches from dirge-like ominousness to more playfully expressive moods. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 15 Dec. 2021 This is accompanied by the men of court singing a solemn dirge for seemingly hours on end. Alice Burton, Vulture, 23 Nov. 2021 The road sang a dirge, the girls danced in sadness. Romeo Oriogun, The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2021 Tamara Stewart played a mournful dirge on her bagpipe, an honor guard placed a wreath on a truck bearing a bent and rusty beam salvaged from the twin tower wreckage. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, 12 Sep. 2021 How times change: When Joss Whedon came on to complete this Avengers-style epic, he was viewed as a genius with a golden touch, sure to bring some heart and humor to Snyder’s soggy, dire dirge. Tim Grierson, Vulture, 27 May 2021 Snider spends much of his latest working in a blues dirge palette that feels like a trimmed down iteration of his Agnostic Hymns sound. Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone, 29 Apr. 2021 The ululation at the beginning gives way to the spoken word feel of the rapping and a dirge-like lamentation sequence, all against the steady beat of the parai drums. Siva Sithraputhran, Fortune, 29 Mar. 2021 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, 17 Nov. 2020 See More

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.

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

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dire wolf



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Cite this Entry

“Dirge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dirge. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on dirge

Nglish: Translation of dirge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dirge for Arabic Speakers


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