Definition of dithyramb in English:



  • 1A wild choral hymn of ancient Greece, especially one dedicated to Dionysus.

    • ‘His Bacco in Toscana, published in 1685, is subtitled ditirambo, the Greek dithyramb being a choral lyric in praise of Dionysus.’
    • ‘Plato observes that the types were once distinct: a hymn would not be confused with a dirge, dithyramb, or paean.’
    • ‘So theologian Harvey Cox, in his dithyramb on the resurrection of Dionysus, applauded us for ushering in a new age.’
    1. 1.1A passionate or inflated speech, poem, or other writing.
      • ‘Ask him about the weather and he delivers a an eccentric little dithyramb on whether or not karate can be viewed with the third eye.’
      • ‘Epic, and tragic poetry, and also comedy and dithyramb and most flute and harp-music, are all by and large imitations.’
      • ‘He suddenly bursts into a dithyramb on what it is to be such a thing as a Canadian poet.’


Early 17th century: via Latin from Greek dithurambos, of unknown ultimate origin.