dith·​y·​ramb ˈdi-thi-ˌram(b) How to pronounce dithyramb (audio)
plural dithyrambs ˈdi-thi-ˌramz How to pronounce dithyramb (audio)
: a usually short poem in an inspired wild irregular strain
: a statement or writing in an exalted or enthusiastic vein
dithyrambic adjective
dithyrambically adverb

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In ancient Greece, the wine god Dionysus (or Bacchus) was feted several times throughout the year. Processions, feasts, dances, and dramatic performances, accompanied by poems recited or sung in the god's honor, were all part of the revelry. Not too surprisingly, the poems tended to be wild, irregular, and dissonant. We know that the Greeks used dithyrambos as the word for a poem in honor of Dionysus, but beyond that the origin of the word is unknown. The ancient Greeks also had an adjective, dithyrambikos, which gave us our adjective dithyrambic, meaning "pertaining to or resembling a dithyramb."

Examples of dithyramb in a Sentence

a tongue-in-cheek dithyramb in honor of the chocolate chip cookie
Recent Examples on the Web Ginsberg’s incantatory dithyrambs pulled the Beats, Walt Whitman and much of 20th century poetry into view. Sesshu Foster, Los Angeles Times, 13 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dithyramb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Greek dithyrambos

First Known Use

circa 1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dithyramb was circa 1647


Dictionary Entries Near dithyramb

Cite this Entry

“Dithyramb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dithyramb. Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

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