Definition of elegiac in English:



  • 1Relating to or characteristic of an elegy.

    ‘haunting and elegiac poems’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Rhapsodic, ironic, elegiac and disillusioned, the urban sketch, for all its sparkle, tended toward melancholy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Berger has found the perfect form for his elegiac, still-hopeful revelation of the worth of us all, so easily stolen by time.’
    • ‘What he does remember, however, strikes a poignant, elegiac note.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He used to recite dirge songs and had established a unique status for his touching elegiac tone.’
    • ‘With that said, there's really nothing bad about this affair - it's mournful, haunting, stirring, elegiac…’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Its tone is consummately elegiac and mournful.’
    • ‘And now here is a book which is mostly poetry, or at least a kind of elegiac wistfulness.’
    • ‘These are punctuated in somber and sorrowful moments by elegiac strings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The wistful elegiac moods of the Sonnets, were conveyed with just the right balance of outward expression and gesture, and delicate tonal control.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1Wistfully mournful.
      • ‘He also wrote numerous poems in elegiac distichs.’
      • ‘Coleridge enthusiastically appropriated Schiller's lines, even to the extent of changing into pure hexameters what in Schiller's original is an elegiac distich.’
      • ‘Smith's ‘illegitimate’ sonnet consists of three elegiac quatrains and a couplet, thus combining both English elegiac meters.’
      • ‘Hexameters are the epic meter; by stealing a foot in the second line, Cupid has turned it into elegiac meter, used for love poetry.’
      mournful, melancholic, melancholy, plaintive, sorrowful, sad, lamenting, doleful
      funereal, dirgelike
      touching, moving, poignant
      threnodic, threnodial
      View synonyms

plural noun

  • Verses in an elegiac meter.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Elegiacs may be rhymed or not.’
    • ‘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).