Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A narrative poem, often of folk origin and intended to be sung, consisting of simple stanzas and usually having a refrain.
  • n. The music for such a poem.
  • n. A popular song especially of a romantic or sentimental nature.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A long song or poem that tells a story.
  • n. A slow romantic pop song.
  • v. To make mention of in ballads.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A popular kind of narrative poem, adapted for recitation or singing; ; esp., a sentimental or romantic poem in short stanzas.
  • intransitive v. To make or sing ballads.
  • transitive v. To make mention of in ballads.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make or sing ballads.
  • To celebrate in a ballad.
  • n. A song intended as an accompaniment to a dance.
  • n. The tune to which such a song is sung.
  • n. A short narrative poem, especially one adapted for singing; a poem partly epic and partly lyric.
  • n. In music, originally, a short and simple vocal melody, often adapted to more than one stanza of poetry and having a simple instrumental accompaniment.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a narrative poem of popular origin
  • n. a narrative song with a recurrent refrain

Etymologies

Middle English balade, poem or song in stanza form, from Old French ballade, from Old Provençal balada, song sung while dancing, from balar, to dance, from Late Latin ballāre, to dance; see ball2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French ballade, from Old Provençal ballada ("poem for a dance"), from Late Latin ballare. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Cheap sentiment sinks the title ballad, but the closer, "Make This Moment (To Love Again)," while sentimental as well, has the charm of a classic pop bauble from the 50s.

    All articles at Blogcritics

  • I mean, I suppose it does constitute a reading and all, given that the ballad is highly narrative, basically a wee story told in song.

    Mind Meld, Matelotage and Mutiny

  • Another song by Pete Seeger, this sorrowful ballad is taken from a Latin medieval poem, known as an “Ubi Sunt” (literally, Where Are …), the song refers to nostalgia and death.

    Remembering Mary Travers | myFiveBest

  • One of his most beautiful melodies, for example, is “We Are One”, a foofily sung ballad from the cheesy Jaws ripoff Orca.

    2007 February : Scrubbles.net

  • But we have in ballad form an account of what Prince Hal, now Henry V, said to Judge Gascoigne on the occasion of his retirement from the Bench:

    Good Justice: A Global Commodity

  • It may tell the story in ballad form and it may also be hilarious, for we must not forget that the song and dance are closely allied.

    Christmas Luncheon

  • It may tell the story in ballad form and it may also be hilarious, for we must not forget the fact that the song and dance are closely allied.

    History of Christmas Music

  • Child's generic title for this ballad is "Bonnie Annie," although

    The Banks of Green Willow (2)

  • Child #78 Aside from its exquisite poetry and music, this ballad is notable for its exhibition of the universal popular belief that excessive grief on the part of mourners disturbs the peace of the dead.

    The Unquiet Grave

  • French Princess, "a ballad from the Spanish;" The Nightingale, "translated from the Danish; signed, all but the last," George Olaus

    George Borrow The Man and His Books

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