Definition of elegiac in English:



  • 1Relating to or characteristic of an elegy.

    ‘haunting and elegiac poems’
    • ‘It's an elegiac and lyrical single-act play that is haunted by the death of a teenage girl, Roslyn, whom we never meet.’
    • ‘Not only does it oblige us to face the discomfiting reality of death and the uncertainty of resurrection, but it also throws our pieties into confusion by interweaving death with beauty, the elegiac with the sensuous.’
    • ‘In trying to be nostalgic about the then ubiquitous sounds of choice in the radio, the author has verily sung its ‘demise’ in elegiac terms, that one can feel in self-generated empathy.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, it is a beautiful, elegiac work of art, at once powerfully iconic and subdued.’
    • ‘The poems ranged across these six sections vary from the lyrical to the elegiac to the downright silly.’
    • ‘They're poems, written in verse in the first person, elegiac in format.’
    • ‘It is deservedly a classic - a most gorgeously written, elusively elegiac, delicate evocation of a vanished way of life, and an almost vanished way of thinking and being in the world.’
    • ‘The long, elegiac camera movements with pained moments of concentration on detail make the lens into the eye of a narrator and effectively take us on the tragic journey which is Hamlet.’
    • ‘The third movement's elegiac tone places it in line with the great Russian lament tradition.’
    • ‘Not merely is there the familiar trope of the ‘wounded civilisation’, there is also the elegiac evocation of the destruction of Vijayanagara.’
    • ‘Quite naturally, then, the elegiac strain is central to Indran's oeuvre.’
    • ‘One poem, for instance, embeds a kind of elegiac tone in its simple vocabulary: language is an unregulated process of memorializing in the process of forgetting.’
    • ‘His poems use images of death and dying, and he has written elegiac poems to lost friends and family members.’
    • ‘The film is an elegiac poem, one with deep felt un-maudlin sympathy.’
    • ‘The problem of audience provides the most apt segue into the elegiac elements of the poems.’
    • ‘But why did the consolation have to be in verse, no tradition yet existing of elegiac poems for people of lower rank than the nobility?’
    • ‘Numerous proleptically elegiac poems share this prediction, foregrounding the silence that will replace consolatory language in the new round of suffering.’
    • ‘Ovid, the elegiac poet who was a contemporary of Livy, quotes her as saying to Tarquinius, ‘Why, victor, do you rejoice?’’
    • ‘The result is a beautiful book whose elegiac tone is quickened by the writer's own warmth and wit.’
    • ‘In the final stages of emphysema he summoned up the energy to make his final film, a British-German-American co-production based on an elegiac short story.’
    1. 1.1Wistfully mournful.
      ‘she watched repeat serials, fixed on their moody and elegiac characterization’
      • ‘Only the last haunting and elegiac shot of the steam train bearing the wounded Ned back to Melbourne and his hanging carry a real resonance.’
      • ‘Ford's writing is never more his signature than when he combines a wistful, elegiac feeling of loss with an indomitable instinct to carry on.’
      • ‘These are punctuated in somber and sorrowful moments by elegiac strings.’
      • ‘Rhapsodic, ironic, elegiac and disillusioned, the urban sketch, for all its sparkle, tended toward melancholy.’
      • ‘Colors tend to be exquisite, but in an unusual way, at once vivid and fading, as if a still-potent splendor were half-vanishing before one's eyes, introducing a vaguely mournful, even elegiac tone.’
      • ‘Berger has found the perfect form for his elegiac, still-hopeful revelation of the worth of us all, so easily stolen by time.’
      • ‘He used to recite dirge songs and had established a unique status for his touching elegiac tone.’
      • ‘A soundtrack of mournful chanting gives the whole work an elegiac quality.’
      • ‘This is primarily a period piece and, as you might expect from the elegiac nature of the film, the pace is appropriately funereal.’
      • ‘Her pessimism and elegiac outlook could only perceive the contemporary social and political developments of indigenous peoples as a slow decline and erosion of tradition.’
      • ‘With that said, there's really nothing bad about this affair - it's mournful, haunting, stirring, elegiac…’
      • ‘And now here is a book which is mostly poetry, or at least a kind of elegiac wistfulness.’
      • ‘But as the mournful, elegiac music began to gently move through the air, and voices, distinct and intense, began to tell their tale, in their own words, something incredible happened.’
      • ‘By the way, I think it's a wonderful scene. an elegiac scene, very touching.’
      • ‘Although the work ended in renewal, it was deeply elegiac.’
      • ‘The rhythm of 1970s TV seem so unusual now that they add to the sense that you are watching something wholly other: long, slow scenes; wordy dialogue; and elegiac tracking shots of an empty England.’
      • ‘As the book closes, it becomes transformed into a moving, elegiac memoir for the writer's parents.’
      • ‘What he does remember, however, strikes a poignant, elegiac note.’
      • ‘The wistful elegiac moods of the Sonnets, were conveyed with just the right balance of outward expression and gesture, and delicate tonal control.’
      • ‘Its tone is consummately elegiac and mournful.’
      mournful, melancholic, melancholy, plaintive, sorrowful, sad, lamenting, doleful
      funereal, dirgelike
      touching, moving, poignant
      threnodic, threnodial
      View synonyms

plural noun

  • Verses in an elegiac metre.

    • ‘The Elegiacs may be rhymed or not.’
    • ‘Through the narrative, the poet's elegiacs become a leitmotif.’
    • ‘In poems written entirely in hexameters the break is possibly not quite so rare as in elegiacs.’
    • ‘In the long poems, the first and last are metrically related to the neighbouring shorter poems: poem 61 is in lyric metre, 65-8 in elegiacs.’
    • ‘Translated, these Latin elegiacs mean: Breasts, O mother, milk and life thou didst give.’


Late 16th century: from French élégiaque, or via late Latin, from Greek elegeiakos, from elegeia (see elegy).