Definition of ballad in US English:



  • 1A poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas. Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part of the folk culture.

    • ‘This massive influx of new settlers brought with them many of their own traditions, stories and ballads.’
    • ‘Contestants performed a variety of music from Thai pop songs to old folk songs or ballads from Isaan.’
    • ‘A man of no airs nor graces, he also liked traditional music and ballads and the old songs of our land.’
    • ‘Sitting on a low stool and cradling his beloved guitar he sang in a rich baritone a mixture of haunting ballads and cheery folk songs.’
    • ‘They are sure to captivate you with their vast collection of Irish ballads and folk songs.’
    • ‘Needless to say, the music that Brahms set to this ballad is very dark.’
    • ‘She also brought out her banjo and sang some sea shanties and murder ballads, accompanied by her guitarist Skippy.’
    • ‘She loved ceilidh music all her life and was very fond of traditional music and ballad songs.’
    • ‘He first emerged in the 1960s to give a new voice to the traditional ballad and to a generation's call for social and political change.’
    • ‘Last night, for example, the audience spanned all ages, and all were familiar with the ballads, torch songs and comic ensemble pieces.’
    • ‘His ambition is to follow in Slim's footsteps singing and playing traditional Australian bush ballads.’
    • ‘Accentual verse has continued to flourish, however, in a wide range of popular songs, hymns, ballads, and nursery rhymes.’
    • ‘It is the hour spoken of most often in fairy tales and ballads and song, where almost anything is possible.’
    • ‘There are a number of English and American folk ballads which narrate stories from the grave, aren't there?’
    • ‘He cherished some lovely old books containing the folk songs and traditional ballads of our land.’
    • ‘With a traditional ballad you may notice the rhyme scheme or alliteration.’
    • ‘It adapted itself to the current fashions for folksong style, the ballad, and finally ragtime and jazz idioms.’
    • ‘Then he argues that stories, ballads, and legends are not things of the past.’
    • ‘Assigning tunes and tune variants to specific poems and ballads was not uncommon during the seventeenth century.’
    • ‘Their roots were firmly in the ballads and traditional music in the early days.’
    song, folk song, shanty, ditty, canzone
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A slow sentimental or romantic song.
      • ‘There are a few that have vocal hooks, some get awesomely chaotic and some are forlorn ballads.’
      • ‘Both bands have the ability to write heart melting ballads and also manage to write gritty anthems packed full of aggression.’
      • ‘Mournful, quietly ecstatic ballads alternate with more riff based, rhythmically insistent workouts.’
      • ‘Those soft romantic ballads of yours rock, and they are my style exactly!’
      • ‘Just as before it was followed by a slower ballad and Rebecca found herself again gently rocking in his arms.’
      • ‘From outside Amanda could hear the sound of the romantic ballads playing as she climbed out of the car.’
      • ‘Hearts melted and spirits ignited as some couples took to the front of the stage, dancing to these romantic ballads.’
      • ‘Nightfall is an album of deeply introspective ballads.’
      • ‘He ranges from melancholy thoughts on life to romantic ballads to blues to rocking tunes.’
      • ‘The man continues to smile, and she rests her head on his shoulder as they continue to dance to a slow ballad.’
      • ‘Despite a hugely prolific career, Cole is now best known for a handful of over-played sentimental ballads.’
      • ‘He has recorded everything from the most romantic ballads to movie theme songs, disco, rock and even gospel.’
      • ‘The record has a variety of tunes, from lightly gritty rock to melodic pop to romantic power ballads.’
      • ‘A slow, romantic ballad drifted into the air and the crowd turned to look at them.’
      • ‘One of the stand-out tracks is in fact a ballad, a love song.’
      • ‘Crooning romantic ballads and keeping the beat with faster numbers, he made his mark with his debut album.’
      • ‘They perform a range of covers ranging from fast paced pop and r'n'b to tender ballads and slow airs.’
      • ‘Dynamically, this album has its slow ballad songs and its loud ones.’
      • ‘There are sappy ballads aplenty, but this need not turn you off this Toronto-based quartet.’
      • ‘Most songs are retiring ballads, the kind pulled out at the end of the night to send fans out the door in each other's arms.’


Late 15th century (denoting a light, simple song): from Old French balade, from Provençal balada ‘dance, song to dance to’, from balar ‘to dance’, from late Latin ballare (see ball). The sense ‘narrative poem’ dates from the mid 18th century.