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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.
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 ballads
  • But long before disco ballads, he sang jazz and blues standards.
  • The best ballads have already been written, the best monologue and soliloquy songs have been written.
  • Rock dust on the green felt, cowboy ballads on the jukebox.
  • There are also subcategories, such as slow ballads and more rhythmic tunes drawn from dance music.
  • The transformation became complete so soon as the invention of printing made it more profitable to sell ballads than to sing them.
  • His poetic powers were first nourished by, and received their special bent from, old border tales and ballads.
  • Although some of his biggest hits were ballads, his up-tempo singing was a marvel of improvisation and sound.
  • Corridos are simple folk ballads or story songs, often with topical subject matter.
  • The book helps writers learn aspects of creating sonnets, ballads, blank verse and other forms of poetry with clear explanation.
  • His virtuosity is on full display here-the band moves effortlessly from dirges to rave-ups to power ballads.
British Dictionary definitions for ballads


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 ballads



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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ballads 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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