lyr·​ic | \ ˈlir-ik How to pronounce lyric (audio) \

Definition of lyric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a lyric composition specifically : a lyric poem
2 : the words of a song often used in plural



Definition of lyric (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : suitable for singing to the lyre or for being set to music and sung
b : of, relating to, or being drama set to music especially : operatic lyric stage
2a : expressing direct usually intense personal emotion especially in a manner suggestive of song lyric poetry
b : exuberant, rhapsodic exploded with lyric wrathTime
3 of an opera singer : having a light voice and a melodic style a lyric soprano — compare dramatic

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Synonyms & Antonyms for lyric

Synonyms: Noun

poem, rune, song, verse

Synonyms: Adjective

euphonious, lyrical, mellifluent, mellifluous, mellow, melodic, melodious, musical

Antonyms: Adjective


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Did You Know?


To the ancient Greeks, anything lyrikos was appropriate to the lyre. That elegant stringed instrument was highly regarded by the Greeks and was used to accompany intensely personal poetry that revealed the thoughts and feelings of the poet. When the adjective lyric, a descendant of lyrikos, was adopted into English in the 1500s, it too referred to things pertaining or adapted to the lyre. Initially, it was applied to poetic forms (such as elegies, odes, or sonnets) that expressed strong emotion, to poets who wrote such works, or to things that were meant to be sung; over time, it was extended to anything musical or rhapsodic. Nowadays, lyric is also used as a noun naming either a type of poem or the words of a song.

Examples of lyric in a Sentence


a song with a beautiful lyric a poet admired for his lyrics


they performed a slow, lyric dance for the audience the film's lyric photography really enhanced its romantic mood
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Alex Welsh for The New York Times The singer and rapper Lizzo, 31, is one of the buzziest acts in music right now, what with her fierce lyrics, outspoken personality and fashion presence. New York Times, "How Lizzo Does That," 4 Sep. 2019 The British singer’s misfit allure connected with legions of fans, from punks and nerds to LGBTQ folks and Mexican Americans, who saw their own alienation in his melancholy lyrics. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "Bigmouth strikes again: Morrissey’s racist rhetoric inspires boycott ahead of Merriweather Post Pavilion show," 4 Sep. 2019 Its lyrics, about poverty and endurance, seemed to fit the Labor Day theme. Rachel Swan,, "Times change but politicians still turn out on Labor Day in the East Bay," 2 Sep. 2019 With the former, Swift brings over a decade of adult perspective—and possibly even a bit of criticism of her late-aughts fixation with the idealism of small-town, USA—to its lyrics. Vogue, "A Listening Guide to Lover, Based on Your 9 Favorite Taylor Swift Songs," 23 Aug. 2019 While many people can recite his lyrics and name his films, many don’t know much about the daughter of famed rapper/actor LL Cool J, Nina-Symone Smith. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "LISTEN: LL Cool J's Daughter Nina-Symone Releases Debut Single, "Call Me"," 9 Aug. 2019 The case focused on the notes and beats of the song, not its lyrics or recording, and the questions suggested that Perry might be off the hook. Andrew Dalton, Fortune, "A Jury Will Decide Damages Owed by Katy Perry for Copy of Christian Rap Song," 30 July 2019 Swift built her reputation as a songwriter on her ability to do two things: write an impossibly catchy pop hook and get incredibly messy and intimate and personal in her lyrics. Constance Grady, Vox, "Taylor Swift’s new single, “Archer,” is Swift at her most intimate and vulnerable," 24 July 2019 Their lyrics tend to oscillate between the lachrymose and megalomaniacal. Jacob Mikanowski, Harper's magazine, "The Call of the Drums," 21 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Swift released the song on Aug. 16 with a lyric video that features short clips from home videos. Katherine Schaffstall, The Hollywood Reporter, "Taylor Swift Releases "Lover" Music Video," 22 Aug. 2019 The track was released on radio and streaming, and accompanied by a lyric video (above). Rachel Yang,, "Katy Perry releases new single 'Small Talk' and lyric video," 9 Aug. 2019 Berman wasn’t just pointing out his predecessors with that lyric, though. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "David Berman Sang the Truth," 8 Aug. 2019 Her vision was epic; her voice was lyric, unequaled by any of her contemporaries. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "Dallas remembers Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison, whose reach extended to academia and theater," 6 Aug. 2019 The judgment seemed to be based primarily on the style of the songs, rather than any similarity in melody, harmony, rhythm or lyric. M.h., The Economist, "The vexed question of samples and songwriting credits," 31 July 2019 Her full-length essay collection Be with Me Always was published by the University of Nebraska Press in March 2019 and her lyric essay chapbook Devotional was published by Red Bird in 2017. Sarah Menkedick, Longreads, "The First Book," 24 July 2019 The lyric study of Ellis Island is a mournful counterfactual about what might have been had his parents—and many others—made it across the ocean. Paul Grimstad, The New Yorker, "The Absolute Originality of Georges Perec," 16 July 2019 Callahan has evoked the apocalypse plenty of times before, but the eternal bye-bye has never felt this close — on his lyric sheet, or out here in the real world. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "Bill Callahan found domestic bliss. Then he wrote the great apocalypse ballad of 2019.," 15 July 2019

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


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lyric


Middle French or Latin; Middle French lyrique, from Latin lyricus, from Greek lyrikos, from lyra

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Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for lyric

The first known use of lyric was in 1567

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More Definitions for lyric



English Language Learners Definition of lyric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the words of a song
: a poem that expresses deep personal feelings in a way that is like a song : a lyric poem



English Language Learners Definition of lyric (Entry 2 of 2)

: expressing deep feelings in a way that is like a song
: writing lyric poetry
of an opera singer : having a light and pure voice


lyr·​ic | \ ˈlir-ik How to pronounce lyric (audio) \

Kids Definition of lyric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the words of a song often used in pl.
2 : a poem that expresses feelings in a way that is like a song



Kids Definition of lyric (Entry 2 of 2)

: expressing personal emotion in a way that is like a song lyric poetry

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More from Merriam-Webster on lyric

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lyric

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lyric

Spanish Central: Translation of lyric

Nglish: Translation of lyric for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lyric for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about lyric

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to make a temporary encampment

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