ec·​logue | \ ˈek-ˌlȯg How to pronounce eclogue (audio) , -ˌläg \

Definition of eclogue

: a poem in which shepherds converse

The Poetic History of Eclogue

Although the eclogue appears in the Idylls of the Greek poet Theocritus, it was the 10 Eclogues (or Bucolics) of the Roman poet Virgil that gave us the word eclogue. (The Latin title Eclogae literally means "selections.") The eclogue was popular in the Renaissance and through the 17th century, when less formal eclogues were written. The poems traditionally depicted rural life as free from the complexity and corruption of more citified realms. The eclogue fell out of favor when the poets of the Romantic period rebelled against the artificiality of the pastoral. In more modern times, though, the term eclogue has been applied to pastoral poems involving the conversations of people other than shepherds, often with heavy doses of irony.

First Known Use of eclogue

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for eclogue

Middle English ecloog, borrowed from Latin Eclogae, collection of pastoral poems by Virgil, from plural of ecloga "passage selected from a longer work, short poem," borrowed from Greek eklogḗ "choice, selection, quotation, (in plural) selection of passages," noun derivative of eklégein "to pick out, select" — more at eclectic entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about eclogue

Time Traveler for eclogue

Time Traveler

The first known use of eclogue was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about eclogue

Statistics for eclogue

Cite this Entry

“Eclogue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on eclogue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for eclogue Encyclopedia article about eclogue

Comments on eclogue

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!