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[bal-uh d] /ˈbæl əd/
any light, simple song, especially one of sentimental or romantic character, having two or more stanzas all sung to the same melody.
a simple narrative poem of folk origin, composed in short stanzas and adapted for singing.
any poem written in similar style.
the music for a ballad.
a sentimental or romantic popular song.
Origin of ballad
1350-1400; Middle English balade < Middle French < Old Provençal balada dance, dancing-song, equivalent to bal(ar) to dance (< Late Latin ballāre; see ball2) + -ada -ade1
Related forms
[buh-lad-ik] /bəˈlæd ɪk/ (Show IPA),
balladlike, adjective
Can be confused
ballad, ballet, ballot. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ballad
  • That '80s power ballad had it all wrong.
  • We need love for everyone, not just for some, as the soul ballad goes.
  • I'm going to hold my head high when i cast my ballad for John.
  • They create an identifiable sound in this shuffle-beat rendition of a pretty ballad.
  • The title track of the new album is his invention, a folk-rock ballad with a ruminative lilt and a labored melody.
  • Mary sings a very funky, down home, bluesy ballad.
  • They are making well-turned pop that deliberately avoids the histrionic excesses of grunge or punk or power ballads.
  • He ends up in a Seattle coffeehouse, singing a gentle grunge ballad.
  • This ballad was occasioned by a real incident.
  • She wrote a ballad, with verses depicting a boy in a foster home, a single mother in a halfway house and a man in a hospital bed.
British Dictionary definitions for ballad


a narrative song with a recurrent refrain
a narrative poem in short stanzas of popular origin, originally sung to a repeated tune
a slow sentimental song, esp a pop song
Word Origin
C15: from Old French balade, from Old Provençal balada song accompanying a dance, from balar to dance, from Late Latin ballāre; see ball²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ballad

late 15c., from French ballade "dancing song" (13c.), from Old Provençal ballada "(poem for a) dance," from balar "to dance," from Late Latin ballare "to dance" (see ball (n.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ballad in Culture

ballad definition

A simple narrative song, or a narrative poem suitable for singing. The ballad usually has a short stanza, such as:

There are twelve months in all the year,
As I hear many men say,
But the merriest month in all the year
Is the merry month of May.

ballad definition

A simple narrative song, or, alternatively, a narrative poem suitable for singing. (See under “Conventions of Written English.”)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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