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[durj] /dɜrdʒ/
a funeral song or tune, or one expressing mourning in commemoration of the dead.
any composition resembling such a song or tune in character, as a poem of lament for the dead or solemn, mournful music:
Tennyson's dirge for the Duke of Wellington.
a mournful sound resembling a dirge:
The autumn wind sang the dirge of summer.
Ecclesiastical. the office of the dead, or the funeral service as sung.
Origin of dirge
1175-1225; Middle English dir(i)ge < Latin: direct, syncopated variant of dīrige (imperative of dīrigere), first word of the antiphon sung in the Latin office of the dead (Psalm V, 8) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dirge
  • The sound of that dirge still remains in the porches of my ears.
  • Stop the dirge, cancel the flowers and hold the condolences.
  • The dirge-like back-to-school drumbeat appears to be growing.
  • With the dirge, and the sounds of lamenting, and voices of women who weep.
  • The crowd's groan was like a dirge.
  • The nicest thing he could find to say about it was that it was a dirge.
  • Flip is a slow, dirge-like blues also spotlighting drums and the singer's own guitar.
  • Meanwhile, the sound of a dirge swells in from behind the village.
  • The snow chains on passing cars beat out a dirge-like, clanging rhythm.
  • This and the preceding two dances passed like a long dirge.
British Dictionary definitions for dirge


a chant of lamentation for the dead
the funeral service in its solemn or sung forms
any mourning song or melody
Derived Forms
dirgeful, adjective
Word Origin
C13: changed from Latin dīrigē direct (imperative), opening word of the Latin antiphon used in the office of the dead
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 dirge

early 13c., dirige (current contracted form is from c.1400), from Latin dirige "direct!" imperative of dirigere "to direct," probably from antiphon Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam, "Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight," from Psalm v:9, which opened the Matins service in the Office of the Dead. Transferred sense of "any funeral song" is from c.1500.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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