AskDefine | Define threnody

Dictionary Definition

threnody n : a song or hymn of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person [syn: dirge, coronach, lament, requiem]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A song or poem of lamentation or mourning for a dead person; a dirge, an elegy.
    • 1879, John McElroy, Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons, ch. 44,
      The fifer actually knew but one tune "The Bonnie Blue Flag"—and did not know that well. But it was all that he had, and he played it with wearisome monotony for every camp call. . . . I never hated any piece of music as I came to hate that threnody of treason.
    • 1885, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ch. 5,
      This was the boy whose memory lives in the tenderest and most pathetic of Emerson's poems, the "Threnody,"—a lament not unworthy of comparison with Lycidas for dignity.


Extensive Definition

A threnody is a song or hymn of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person (synonyms include dirge, coronach, lament, and elegy). The term originates from the Greek word threnoidia, from threnos (lament) + oide (song). Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European root wed- (to speak) that is also the forefather of such words as ode, tragedy, comedy, parody, melody, and rhapsody.
One recent example of a threnody is Krzysztof Penderecki's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima. A classic jazz threnody is I Remember Clifford, written to honour the memory of Clifford Brown. Epitaphios Threnos is the lamentation chanted in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday.
threnody in Spanish: Treno
threnody in French: Thrène
threnody in Polish: Tren (literatura)
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