ele·​gi·​ac | \ ˌe-lə-ˈjī-ək How to pronounce elegiac (audio) , -ˌak also i-ˈlē-jē-ˌak\
variants: or less commonly elegiacal \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈjī-​ə-​kəl How to pronounce elegiacal (audio) \

Definition of elegiac

1a : of, relating to, or consisting of two dactylic hexameter lines the second of which lacks the arsis in the third and sixth feet
b(1) : written in or consisting of elegiac couplets
(2) : noted for having written poetry in such couplets
c : of or relating to the period in Greece about the seventh century b.c. when poetry written in such couplets flourished
2 : of, relating to, or comprising elegy or an elegy especially : expressing sorrow often for something now past an elegiac lament for departed youth

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Other Words from elegiac

elegiac noun
elegiacally \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈjī-​ə-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce elegiacally (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

Elegiac was borrowed into English in the 16th century from the Late Latin elagiacus, which in turn derives from the Greek elegeiakos. "Elegeiakos" traces back to the Greek word for "elegiac couplet" or "elegy," which was "elegeion." It is no surprise, then, that the earliest meaning of "elegiac" referred to such poetic couplets. These days, of course, the word is also used to describe anything sorrowful or nostalgic. As you may have guessed, another descendant of "elegeion" in English is "elegy," which in its oldest sense refers to a poem in elegiac couplets, and now can equally refer to a somewhat broader range of laments for something or someone that is now lost.

Examples of elegiac in a Sentence

the sight of an old ruined church or castle can be a pleasantly elegiac experience

Recent Examples on the Web

This elegiac doc would make for a much better career coda. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: David Crosby hoping for a little more time in elegiac doc ‘Remember My Name’," 2 Aug. 2019 This elegiac doc would make for a much better career coda. Glenn Whipp, Twin Cities, "David Crosby hoping for a little more time in elegiac documentary ‘Remember My Name’," 1 Aug. 2019 Despite the excited, headlong rush of the writing—not since Humbert Humbert has so much impassioned prose been lavished on so nebulous a love-object—the overall tone is elegiac. John Banville, WSJ, "‘Sleeping With Strangers’ Review: Flickers of Desire," 22 Feb. 2019 This elegiac doc would make for a much better career coda. Los Angeles Times, "Review: David Crosby hoping for a little more time in elegiac doc ‘Remember My Name’," 18 July 2019 The most elegiac work in the outdoor show could hardly have been simpler. Esther Allen, The New York Review of Books, "The Art of the Possible at Havana’s Bienal," 15 June 2019 The elegiac score by Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva is redolent with the buoyant melancholy of klezmer. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Review: ‘Indecent’ at the Ahmanson pays haunting tribute to a daring Yiddish play," 11 June 2019 The three-volume work was an epic of cultural commentary, architectural criticism, and political philosophy—all laid out in elegiac, meditative prose. Tristram Hunt, WSJ, "Elegy for the Floating City," 25 Jan. 2019 If anything, those elegiac spasms seemed to arrive too soon. David Mermelstein, WSJ, "The Czech Philharmonic’s Global Ambitions," 31 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elegiac.' 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 elegiac

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for elegiac

Late Latin elegiacus, from Greek elegeiakos, from elegeion

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Last Updated

18 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for elegiac

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on elegiac

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with elegiac

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for elegiac

Spanish Central: Translation of elegiac

Nglish: Translation of elegiac for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of elegiac for Arabic Speakers

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a usually brief trip or an expedition

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