Definition of lament in English:



  • 1A passionate expression of grief or sorrow.

    ‘his mother's night-long laments for his father’
    mass noun ‘a song full of lament and sorrow’
    • ‘Her lament does not express regret for a breach of fidelity, but rather the deep sadness of the final farewell.’
    • ‘Dusty stood it on its head and made it a passionate lament of loneliness and love.’
    • ‘Paradise Lost is of course in its largest sense a lament for the loss of human innocence.’
    • ‘The Ritsos poem was actually written after demonstrations in Thessaloniki in May 1936, and it's the lament of a mother whose son, taking part in the demonstrations, has been killed by the police.’
    • ‘Cleopatra's response, though, suggests that she too intends suicide, and she confirms this in the passionate lament that follows his death.’
    • ‘Everything moves, everything's clear, the dances dance, the laments grieve.’
    • ‘And the closing title track, where the Kronos strings weep sad harmonies, is a lament of utter anguish unlike anything else on the disc.’
    • ‘Among the musicians in her Boston-based company, Boston Flamenco, is Fernando de Malaga, a flamenco singer who is the real thing - you can hear the lament in his voice.’
    • ‘Her lush sensuality remains intact, but the unctuous, buttery impasto and singing colour contrast past felicity with present vacancy, and blend lyricism with passionate lament.’
    • ‘The lament of a mother for her child lost to the mighty blow of life brought a lump in the throat and tears to the eyes of the kindred spirits.’
    • ‘The narrator seems to thrive on pain and on the lyrical laments of all the voices telling tales of woe in the narrative, and its very form captures the unpredictability and riffs of jazz.’
    • ‘In contrast, the only explicit messianic reference to Humbert appeared in a version of a lament in Irish for Father Manus Sweeney, a beloved Mayo priest who participated in the Rebellion and was later hanged.’
    • ‘The theme of the passionate love of the Lancasters for England sounds in the lament by Bolingbroke for the country he must leave.’
    • ‘Everything was on target in this by turns fierce, passionate and stoic gypsy lament.’
    • ‘An assessment of great music should allow for a wider variety of moods and expressions - lament, meander, laughter, rage, gallows humor, resignation, and much more.’
    • ‘All those living who heard her lament were deeply moved.’
    • ‘As Joy Division, they ripped up rock's rule book by making music that was heavy and subtle, glacial, yet full of lament - Love Will Tear Us Apart has just been chosen as one of The Brits 25 best songs ever written.’
    • ‘She could hear every halting breath, every tear drip off his chin, and every soft moan a painful lament.’
    • ‘‘Lamentate’ is a lament not for the dead but the living, struggling with the pain and hopelessness of the world.’
    • ‘It begins in the middle of an epistolary lament from the father of the bride and ends with a subtle allusion to a ceremony whose express purpose is to make Byzantine imperial presence more real.’
    wail, wailing, lamentation, moan, moaning, groan, weeping, crying, sob, sobbing, keening, howl, complaint
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    1. 1.1 A song, piece of music, or poem expressing grief or sorrow.
      ‘the piper played a lament’
      • ‘A Scottish piper will play a lament from the control tower at Elvington Airfield during the funeral service in the hangar tomorrow at 12.30 pm.’
      • ‘Not even the peasantry escaped, as was well appreciated by those who sang the popular lament, ‘Song of the Husbandman’, in Edward I's reign.’
      • ‘The girls are singing a sad lament in Sinhalese: ‘Old sea waves, you have kidnapped us ’.’
      • ‘His music, comprising mostly songs, dance-tunes, laments, and some religious pieces, draws upon native tradition but was also influenced by European composers such as Vivaldi and Corelli.’
      • ‘Pre-Christian epic ballads, agricultural songs, laments, and tales dating back to before the tenth century were recorded for the first time in the seventeenth century.’
      • ‘He played graveside laments for those he liked, mourned and admired.’
      • ‘Music for the coffee concert will include Irish traditional dance music, laments and the music of O'Carolan.’
      • ‘The piece is a lament, but he never referred to its connections or dedication, although he goes way back into time in a setting of the bardic song Cathleen ni Hoolihan.’
      • ‘During the wreath laying ceremony young pipers from Marlborough College played a lament.’
      • ‘The show is packed full of stirring anthems, plaintive laments and unforgettable love songs sung by a first-class cast and backed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra.’
      • ‘I loved the mixture in myself; the sad Irish laments and the lilting Scottish songs.’
      • ‘We had been warned that Ann Lamont-Low, whose moving lament concludes the piece, was ill and, indeed, for the first few bars she sounded more like Nico than Marilyn Klinghoffer.’
      • ‘The mourning mother recirculates the lament of the earlier lines as Orpheus and Calliope are themselves ‘fall'n on evil days.’’
      • ‘Next to love songs are laments of exile; ‘Djunda Djunda’ tells of government corruption.’
      • ‘An Irish lament was then played on the flute by Boyle musician Brendan Gaffney.’
      • ‘I could have sworn I heard a piper playing a lament.’
      • ‘Everyone was dressed in deepest black, and sang laments for the King.’
      • ‘A lot of the sentiment of the movie is delivered through songs in the cabaret, which are old Taiwanese songs, mainly cheesy laments about past love.’
      • ‘Starting as a melancholic lament, the music slowly intruded into the action and eventually drowned out the longer speeches.’
      dirge, requiem, elegy, funeral chant, funeral song, burial hymn, dead march, keen, plaint, knell
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  • 2A complaint.

    ‘there were constant laments about the conditions of employment’
    • ‘Until recently, such fantasies were expressed mainly by the far right, or in the laments of despondent Oxbridge dons.’
    • ‘His constant lament was that the Tamil stage had not come of age.’
    • ‘You could definitely hear their plaintive laments.’
    • ‘Old-timers may find support for their constant laments that the game is steadily going downhill by citing the glittering example of 19th Century owner Chris Von der Ahe.’
    • ‘But everywhere I turn, there is a constant keening lament about how bad the site has gotten, as compared to its long-past Glory Days.’
    • ‘The first post-election caucus meeting would appear to provide an ideal opportunity for MPs to voice private laments about an election gone awry and about the first half-year of Paul Martin's leadership.’
    • ‘The remaining inmate of Mr Peggotty's hospitable home is Mrs Gummidge, another dependant and a widow, whose peevish laments for her forlorn condition are patiently borne by Mr Peggotty.’
    • ‘The familiar lament by mothers everywhere may have a kernel of scientific truth.’
    • ‘From all sides came laments about wilful absenteeism: as the factory-owners complained, the workers just dropped their tools and disappeared ‘whenever they felt like it’.’
    • ‘So it hurts Kapoor to hear the oft-repeated lament that Indian publishers don't pay royalties.’
    • ‘A common lament about American literature is that it lacks the political and social scope of other traditions.’
    • ‘The same lament about constant meddling from politicians could be applied to education where since the eighties there has been reform followed by contradictory reform.’
    • ‘The constant in recent games has been a lament from opponents about being pushed around.’
    • ‘Dilsey tells her such talk is ridiculous, but Mrs. Compson enjoys complaining, so continues with her laments.’
    • ‘A common lament of many Waterloo students is the lack of a local music scene.’
    • ‘The lament expressed by Lomax is one being made quite frequently by higher education officials around the nation.’
    • ‘Despite modern laments about medieval colonialism, the crusade's real purpose was to turn back Muslim conquests and restore formerly Christian lands to Christian control.’
    • ‘Talk to intranet champions at big enterprises, and you'll soon hear a familiar, poignant lament.’
    • ‘And this well-worn lament is never more true than when it applies to country crafts.’


  • 1with object Express passionate grief about.

    ‘he was lamenting the death of his infant daughter’
    no object ‘the women wept and lamented over him’
    • ‘Only the common people, who benefited from his extravagant spending, lamented his death.’
    • ‘In his weekly column, Kavalek laments the death of George Koltanowski.’
    • ‘Queen Elizabeth laments the death of Edward and fears for her children's safety.’
    • ‘The Minukku Vesham of the Brahmana, who laments the tragic deaths of his children before Arjuna, is one of the masterpiece roles of the sexagenarian actor.’
    • ‘All Lebanon lamented his death as one man and honoured him with a hero's funeral.’
    • ‘Yesterday, Cassie's distraught grandmother, Elizabeth Chery, fought to hold back the tears as she lamented his loss.’
    • ‘We follow haphazardly, as he laments the death of his friend from cancer at 29.’
    • ‘Egyptian intellectuals and media on Friday morning lamented the death of Sherif at the hands of his kidnappers.’
    • ‘One of MacNeil's most important roles as clan bard is to eulogise and lament the deaths of important clan members.’
    • ‘In their voices I could hear the sorrow of a mother, of a village, lamenting their losses and mourning for their children.’
    • ‘Talking with his mother, the narrator laments God's apparent detachment and the apparent reasons that he and his family are too inconsequential to receive any special divine attention.’
    • ‘A number of women became famous for their poems inciting warriors to fight fiercely, lamenting death or defeat, or celebrating victory.’
    • ‘The odd way both men speak at once, the finality and harshness of their summing up can not but remind one of the choruses of Greek Tragedies, who describe and lament the deaths of heroes.’
    • ‘The Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka lamented his death as a ‘great loss to the industrial sector of the country’.’
    • ‘In one of Chaucer's earliest poems, The Book of the Duchess, a knight is overheard in the forest lamenting the death of his lady.’
    • ‘Cybele found her son's body and returned with him to Mount Ida, where she lamented his death.’
    • ‘But our first duty as Christians is to mourn and lament such deaths, not to use violence in response to them.’
    • ‘Like Mr. Kammer, I lament the many needless deaths caused by self-adoring amateurs playing war from the safety of Washington offices.’
    • ‘He continues to sit in the wreckage of the camp, however, lamenting the deaths of his friends and wondering what he can possibly do next.’
    • ‘Therefore I seek your indulgence to allow me to lament my grief.’
    mourn, grieve, grieve for, grieve over, weep for, shed tears for
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  • 2reporting verb Express regret or disappointment about something.

    with object ‘she lamented the lack of shops in the town’
    with direct speech ‘‘We could have won,’ lamented the England captain’
    • ‘‘This was my seventh Challenge and I've come near each time, but never been a winner,’ a disappointed Smith lamented.’
    • ‘I'm sure you've seen at least one article lamenting the death of rock journalism.’
    • ‘Still, my poor mother laments: ‘You express yourself so beautifully, surely you can find other words.’’
    • ‘Especially if the smaller nation is not at full strength or peak condition, which Signurvinsson laments will be the case with Iceland this weekend.’
    • ‘For years we've lamented the level of deaths on our roads.’
    • ‘One critic laments that such music ‘plays a smaller role in middle-class life than at any time since Beethoven's death.’’
    • ‘Like certain bloggers with a professional interest in the academy, McPhee laments the difficulties involved in obtaining taxpayer dollars for the worthy work she insists is going on beneath the dreaming spires.’
    • ‘The film is shot in washed out colour and bears grim tidings for all who lament the earlier and earlier death of childhood.’
    • ‘The writer of the 1868 report lamented, ‘I regret that so few find their way into the Bible class.’’
    • ‘In her piece she generally laments culturally perpetuated generalizations.’
    • ‘‘I'm the old man around here,’ Diamond laments with a laugh.’
    • ‘Some wanted retribution and called for the death penalty for convicted police murderers, while others lamented the decline of their communities.’
    • ‘For years, dive operators and visitors to Phuket have lamented that the area lacked a decent sized wreck.’
    • ‘The Times lamented a loss of innocence and grieved over a world in which everything had changed.’
    • ‘Political historians have lamented the death of political history since the 1960s and 1970s onslaught of social and cultural historians.’
    • ‘He laments the death of progress in the modern era.’
    • ‘The few that do realise that life can be different, less enervating, lament but rarely complain, grumble but never protest.’
    • ‘Battle laments, ‘I was not very knowledgeable about the stock market,’ when she began investing with her first financial advisor.’
    • ‘Auban laments how this heroic battle against authority ended the ‘right to free speech on Trafalgar Square’.’
    • ‘Food is a passion of Johnston's, and he laments the erosion of quality from the food we buy throughout the years.’
    bemoan, bewail, complain about, deplore, regret, rue
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Late Middle English (as a verb): from French lamenter or Latin lamentari, from lamenta (plural) ‘weeping, wailing’.