Definition of virelay in English:



  • A short lyric poem of a type originating in France in the 14th century, consisting of short lines arranged in stanzas with only two rhymes, the end rhyme of one stanza being the chief one of the next.

    • ‘Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll Scrawled over on some boyish holiday With idle songs for pipe and virelay, Which do but mar the secret of the whole.’
    • ‘The secular compositions include four Italian madrigals and nine ballate, two French virelays, and one Latin canon.’
    • ‘He had never dared to tell her his love, but he composed many songs, rounds, and virelays about the agonies of one who adores and is not loved in return.’
    • ‘You have five days to write twelve sestinas, four limericks, and a Bulgarian variant of the virelay.’
    • ‘In this book are contained all the songs, ballads, roundelays and virelays, which that gentle duke had composed, and of them I had made this collection.’


Late Middle English: from Old French virelai.