|1.||an old French verse form, rarely used in English, consisting of short lines arranged in stanzas having only two rhymes, and two opening lines recurring at intervals|
|2.||any of various similar forms|
|[C14: from Old French virelai, probably from vireli (associated with lai|
one of several formes fixes ("fixed forms") in French lyric poetry and song of the 14th and 15th centuries (compare ballade; rondeau). It probably did not originate in France, and it takes on several different forms even within the French tradition. Similar forms can be found in most of the literatures of medieval and early Renaissance Europe: in the Galician cantiga, the Arabic muwashshah, the Italian lauda and frottola, the Spanish villancico, and the English carol (qq.v.), as well as in the Arabic zajal and the Italian hallata.
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