Definition of dirge in US English:



  • 1A lament for the dead, especially one forming part of a funeral rite.

    • ‘The funeral procession parades slowly through the streets, followed by a band playing a mournful dirge as it moves to the cemetery.’
    • ‘It does not lie in the funeral dirges of Lebanon and Israel, the bombings in Baghdad and the British Army's game of cat and mouse in the deserts of Helmand.’
    • ‘The first and last are love poems, but the second is a dirge for an Irish hero.’
    • ‘They stepped so high, the bagpipes sounded a dirge, they snapped their heads around at attention at their commanding officer.’
    • ‘Dozens of patients, mostly dressed in black, marched through the streets following a draped coffin while musicians played a dirge on a flageolet and melodion.’
    • ‘Of course, anything other than a funeral dirge might be a little too upbeat for the game.’
    • ‘A ‘threnody’ is a dirge, a song of lamentation; the artist intended to create an environment that would be conducive to meditation on death and destruction.’
    • ‘If you are one of the resort's pool of bankrupt songwriters but still have grave interests and tendencies, think about turning to writing dirges for funerals.’
    • ‘It was immediately regarded as a work of great power and emotional charge, especially the second movement, Preghiera per gli innocenti, a dirge in memory of the Great War's victims.’
    • ‘To commemorate his death anniversary Salar Jung Museum has organised a special exhibition of manuscripts, dirges and elegies.’
    • ‘Somewhere, in the distance, a funeral dirge played.’
    • ‘Mixing the ‘let freedom ring’ chorus in with the funeral dirge that is still ringing in the hearts of the victims' families is just shy of vile.’
    • ‘What is ‘Danny Boy,’ after all, but a funeral dirge?’
    • ‘One minute the crowd is jumping around, happy and hyped, and the next minute they are being subjected to an hour and half of music more suited to a funeral dirge…’
    • ‘All night long the Greeks raise the funeral dirge.’
    elegy, lament, funeral chant, funeral song, burial hymn, requiem, dead march
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A mournful song, piece of music, or poem.
      ‘singers chanted dirges’
      figurative ‘the wind howled dirges around the chimney’
      • ‘There are reggae jams and Velvet Underground dirges, one-minute tracks that float by like nothing and sprawling campfire singalongs.’
      • ‘They could be diary poems like Clive James' dirges but the passion and love and guilt and everything else pour out of the Hughes poems like an emotional cornucopia - a death note maybe but a special one.’
      • ‘I'm not sure what melancholy instrument it is that carries this ponderous, mournful dirge.’
      • ‘There are celebratory songs, such as in the wedding masques in As You Like It and The Tempest, and there are the more solemn dirges and laments of Cymbeline and Much Ado About Nothing.’
      • ‘The winds howled their dirge about the rough-hewn stone dwellings huddled under the grim fortress of the Sorcerers who kept watch over the once-great plains of Kal Maros.’
      • ‘Catherine hummed and sang a hymn that faded quickly from a cheery ode to a mournful dirge.’
      • ‘The novel is a dirge that keens and lulls by turns.’
      • ‘The 18 tracks include the infamous Vietnam War rant against the US military top brass, War Pigs, Children Of The Grave, and Killing Yourself To Live, among other dark dirges.’
      • ‘In 1982, he released Nebraska, a masterpiece of hush-toned dirges about murderers and chicken-man killers and accidentally invented lo-fi.’
      • ‘Welding punked-out, ska, psycho-rap backfilled with wailing metal dirges, Bad Acid Trip surge pedantically from whimsical to venomous in one foul breath.’
      • ‘Knowing that repeating his previous pain-racked dirges would just turn him into a caricature, Rollins continues in the tradition of his last outing Get Some Go Again, letting it all hang out with a pure rock delivery.’
      • ‘Mini's songs were neither dirges nor fight songs but soulful chants with melodies of promise.’
      • ‘And the Minutemen covers break up the dirges with up-tempo, jazzy pep talks for the workin’ man.’
      • ‘It even has a hummable melody, as does ‘Mary’, the liveliest of her mournful dirges.’
      • ‘Sirens wailed their mournful dirge as they raced towards the hotel.’
      • ‘The new songs show Pedro The Lion's move towards more darker material, showing off an ability to go from slow-core-ish dirges to frenzied beat-heavy rock numbers.’
      • ‘Highly effective as a literary dirge and lamentation, it comes up short when judged by the standards of the history discipline.’
      • ‘A few of the dirges work, but over the course of fifteen tracks, enough gets to be enough; the rhythm just keeps getting bogged down on the slow ones.’
      • ‘Terren's staff sang out with a lamenting dirge, causing many men to cast away their weapons and run for safety, allowing Terren to cut down their abandoned comrades with his staff and short, erratic bursts of magic.’
      • ‘Following debut album Appetite for Destruction, Axl starts referencing the likes of Elton John with the ecclesiastical piano dirge of ‘November Rain’ from follow-up Use Your Illusion.’


Middle English (denoting the Office for the Dead): from Latin dirige! (imperative) ‘direct!’, the first word of an antiphon (Ps. 5:8) formerly used in the Latin Office for the Dead.