vil·​la·​nelle ˌvi-lə-ˈnel How to pronounce villanelle (audio)
: a chiefly French verse form running on two rhymes and consisting typically of five tercets and a quatrain in which the first and third lines of the opening tercet recur alternately at the end of the other tercets and together as the last two lines of the quatrain

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Elongated and paved with bricks, the path is a closed form, a kind of physical villanelle that thwarts the experience of continuity or the feeling of finitude. Hamilton Cain,, 2 Mar. 2023 Susan Kinsolving’s villanelle obsessively circles the same two rhymes, keeping pace with the anxiety of a mind trying to cope. Clare Bucknell, The New Yorker, 22 Dec. 2020 Her own verse often drew on classical forms such as the villanelle, sestina, tritina and sonnet, and sometimes incorporated references to ancient mythology and medieval legend. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 8 July 2019 But then, rarely does an individual strip contain a complete and proper villanelle about food. Wired Blogs, WIRED, 22 Sep. 2006

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'villanelle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


French, from Italian villanella

First Known Use

1877, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of villanelle was in 1877

Dictionary Entries Near villanelle

Cite this Entry

“Villanelle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

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