\ 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 dirgelike (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 conspectutuo 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

The politics around guns have changed in recent years, recast by a burst of student activism, deep-pocketed allies and a steady dirge of grim headlines from schools, churches, concerts — and now a Virginia Beach municipal building. Campbell Robertson, New York Times, "After Another Mass Shooting, Another Virginia Governor Tries to Change Gun Laws," 4 June 2019 That song was not written as a torchy love song or a draggy dirge. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "Scott Ostler: Deep thoughts, cheap shots & bon mots," 30 June 2018 Most importantly, the men's song parallels the funeral dirge that a Serbian marching band performs at the beginning of Good Luck, introducing the theme of despair that runs through the first half of the film. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Chicago Underground Film Festival: Gold and copper miners tough it out in Good Luck," 5 June 2018 Built to Spill plays cartwheeling, daydreaming tunes that float above it all, while Afghan Whigs specializes in darker dirges from down below. Justin Jacobs, Indianapolis Star, "‘Eva’ premiere, Brett Eldredge show among top things to do in Indianapolis this April," 4 Apr. 2018 In lesser hands, this would have been a death metal dirge. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hard Sun' Creator on Show's "Visceral and Shocking" Violence," 8 Mar. 2018 Telling instrumental details emerged without spotlighting, especially in the sublimated tragedy of the slow movement, here a real funeral march as opposed to a dirge. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Blomstedt brought a too-familiar bit of CSO repertory to life," 2 Mar. 2018 Cloud cover kept the temperature mild as pallbearers carried Robinson's casket to the waiting hearse and the Kinfolk Brass Band played a dirge. Ann Maloney, NOLA.com, "Crowds join family for Arthur 'Mr. Okra' Robinson second-line," 26 Feb. 2018 The Vaqueros, whose attitude toward social media and promotion exhibited all the joy of a funeral dirge, hired Crescenta Valley Insurance president Rick Dinger as director of football operations. Andrew J. Campa, latimes.com, "Turning on the AC: Finally some buzz with Glendale Community College football," 24 Feb. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near dirge



dire wolf





Statistics for dirge

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for dirge

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

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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

Spanish Central: Translation of dirge

Nglish: Translation of dirge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dirge for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dirge

What made you want to look up dirge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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