Definition of anthem in English:



  • 1A rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause.

    ‘the song became the anthem for hippie activists’
    • ‘Olivia was in Carlow to launch A Song for Carlow, an innovative song-writing competition aimed at finding a song for the county that will become the anthem of the terraces and a must as the rousing local sing-songs begin.’
    • ‘And it's made her hit song an anthem for real women.’
    • ‘The song has become an anthem for the school so I am delighted that it has made it to the final of this competition.’
    • ‘After the reggae anthem Redemption Song and Broken Wings, nobody was left sitting down.’
    • ‘The song is an off-kilter anthem for wage slaves everywhere, but McCaughey insists it wasn't written from first-hand experience.’
    • ‘The Last Night of the Proms tomorrow has dropped some of the rousing anthems associated with it, including Rule, Britannia!’
    • ‘Because the song has become an anthem for teenagers, the film will be true to spirit of the song.’
    • ‘When Billie Holiday took up the song it became an anthem for the anti-lynching lobby in the US.’
    • ‘The young people joined in with the rest of the huge crowd singing and chanting all of the famous football songs and anthems.’
    • ‘Well, your song was really an anthem of your generation.’
    • ‘The songs are anthems for those bedecked in shoulder pads and leg warmers, and yet again it seems that what goes around comes around but it will be interesting to see how the long the fragility and fickleness of the show proves it can last.’
    • ‘Way back in 1967 this was the anthem of druggie influenced hippy rock.’
    • ‘They were, and still are, the gods of geek rock, and their songs have become anthems for the alienated, awkward, and lonely.’
    • ‘Dylan, 62, shot to fame in the 1960s when his song ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ became an anthem for a generation of hippies.’
    • ‘The single was a worldwide No 1 hit in 1966 and was taken up as an anti-war anthem by activists opposed to the Vietnam war.’
    • ‘This song is almost an anthem in Japan and comes up often in Karaoke though only a few skilled singer seem to be able to make it past the chorus.’
    • ‘Instead of playing God Save the Queen, the organisers played The Soldier's Song, the anthem of the Irish Republic.’
    • ‘The voice is powerful, the melodies wonderful and the songs anthems for a lost generation.’
    • ‘And where his songs were once communal anthems for misfits everywhere, his writing is now so coldly inward-gazing that it excludes the interests of everyone but Morrissey.’
    • ‘Little did they know that the songs they sang were originally folk songs re-worded to become anthems for change.’
    1. 1.1A solemn patriotic song officially adopted by a country as an expression of national identity.
      • ‘The Czech anthem is a more solemn affair.’
      • ‘More than 2,000 students marched with the national flag and sang the national anthem.’
      • ‘Some waved white flags and others sang the national anthem while they faced the heavily armed rebels.’
      • ‘In theatres and other public events now, we are often asked to stand and sing the national anthem.’
      • ‘As national anthems are rarely sung anywhere except international sporting events, I'd suggest the need for an English anthem is more urgent.’
      • ‘The closing words of the anthem become my prayer: God keep our land, glorious and free, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.’
      • ‘Salford-born Russell is an England fan, but faces the 68,000-strong crowd before kick-off to sing the national anthems of both teams.’
      • ‘‘I am very excited and very proud to have been asked to sing the national anthems, and especially at Old Trafford,’ said father-of-two Martin.’
      • ‘As the flag fluttered at half-mast, worshippers sang the national anthem and signed a book of condolence.’
      • ‘In January 1943, at a student festival near Gjørslev, the Danish students invited the audience to participate in singing two national anthems of particular significance.’
      • ‘The chosen 22 walked out into the most expectant atmosphere Lansdowne Road has witnessed in years, the feverish mood of the moment intensified by rival national anthems sung with exceptional fervour.’
      • ‘For example, how did I end up pledging allegiance to five different countries at one time or another and sung their national anthems?’
      • ‘Wherever he went, he asked the children to join him in singing the national anthem.’
      • ‘In recent years, the national anthem has lost its patriotic air in most sports venues.’
      • ‘For these reasons, folk song finds its way into symphonic poems, and sacred songs become national anthems.’
      • ‘Where are the men who stand to attention when the national anthem is sung?’
      • ‘Second, Anderson despised and attacked the creed of king and country, the cult of war memorials, national anthems, patriotism.’
      • ‘As prayers were said, hymns were sung and the national anthems of both Britain and America were played, there was a tinge of sadness in the air because it is likely that this could have been the last such service.’
      • ‘Both sides sung their national anthems with not a hint of booing, and spent most of the game indulging in volleying songs back and forth.’
      • ‘Epic songs and poems, monuments, national anthems, official uniforms and national anniversaries are just a couple of rituals of statism.’
  • 2A choral composition based on a biblical passage, for singing by a choir in a church service.

    • ‘Instead of singing the proper Verse intended for the choir, many musicians prefer to concentrate their preparation on a choral anthem.’
    • ‘He has a huge catalogue of saleable stuff - including a ton of Christmas-carol arrangements, easy church anthems, and so on.’
    • ‘Out of towering brown churches came the blithe music of anthems from the choirs.’
    • ‘Other works include The Nativity for soprano and orchestra, sacred choral anthems, hymn preludes for organ and works for trumpet and organ.’
    • ‘At the peak of his powers, Handel was commissioned to write no fewer than four new anthems for the service.’
    • ‘It was a funeral we all dream of - majestic organ, wonderful hymns and choral anthems, and the sermon about David and about the gospel that sustained him in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith.’
    • ‘The repertoire consisted of songs and anthems by various composers with Anne Bartlett conducting and Leah Lefevra accompanying the choir on the piano.’
    • ‘The second puzzle concerns the incomplete state of the four manuscript anthems in the Christ Church books.’
    • ‘Three TV cameras catch all the action, be it the sermon, a choir anthem or a children's message.’
    • ‘Mr. Roth also published many anthems and more than 100 sacred songs, for which he composed the music and generally the text as well.’
    • ‘Kendal Choral opens proceedings by singing five anthems in the Anglican church tradition starting with the 16th century and concluding in the present.’
    • ‘As I note-bashed hymns, psalms, responses, and anthems for Sunday, I called at times for more sound.’
    • ‘During the service, a number of anthems were sung, one of which was specially composed for the occasion by the cathedral's director of music, Simon Lole.’
    • ‘Like his father, Alfonso the younger was well known as a composer of church music, writing English anthems for the Anglican Church as well as motets to Latin words.’
    • ‘His first mature anthems and songs date from about 1676.’
    • ‘No church choir is likely to exhaust the interest and effect of his service music and anthems.’
    • ‘The anthems and other musical portions of the services were well rendered by the choir.’
    • ‘These pieces amount to two anthems which survive complete, and some Anglican liturgical music which survives fragmentarily in Durham Cathedral Library and cannot be reconstructed.’
    • ‘A committed Catholic, Byrd was able to make his living, and his reputation, writing anthems and services in the vernacular spare style for Anglican worship.’
    • ‘One story goes that when a student came to him with a little choral anthem, he walked away shouting, ‘No!’’
    hymn, song, song of praise, chorale, psalm, paean, plainsong, chant, canticle
    View synonyms


Old English antefn, antifne (denoting a composition sung antiphonally), from late Latin antiphona (see antiphon). The spelling with th, which began in the 16th century, was on the pattern of similar words, such as Antony, Anthony or amarant, amaranth.