\ 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 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 Magdalene opens with something like a funeral dirge, an echoing hymnal over which her falsetto rings at an almost unbearably high register. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "The 10 Best Albums of 2019," 27 Nov. 2019 The only appropriate dance for this season is a dirge. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Misery Index: Wisconsin won't be able to erase the ugly mark on its résumé after loss to Illinois," 20 Oct. 2019 The only sound comes from the loudspeakers: music, reportage in the morning, and poetry—hastily written dirges by many Soviet poets writing on cue. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "A Hypnotic but Contextless Portrait of Stalin’s Death and Its Aftermath," 30 Sep. 2019 In a dirge-like version, a young man plays the song solo on an acoustic guitar. Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times, "‘Glory to Hong Kong': A new protest anthem moves singers to tears," 13 Sep. 2019 However, the funeral dirge turned out to be a little premature, as the SUV survived the night on the beach without getting carried away by the ocean. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "'It Took a Backhoe.' Jeep Stuck on Myrtle Beach During Hurricane Dorian Has Been Removed," 6 Sep. 2019 In the premiere episode, the soundtrack bops from a Beyoncé anthem to a Megan Thee Stallion hot girl jam to Danish singer Agnes Obel's crying-alone-in-my-room dirge. Morgan Baila, refinery29.com, "The Euphoria Soundtrack Is Chaotic In The Best Way — Listen Here," 25 June 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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Statistics for dirge

Last Updated

13 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dirge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dirge. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for dirge


How to pronounce dirge (audio)

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

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