Definitions

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

  • adj. Of, relating to, or involving elegy or mourning or expressing sorrow for that which is irrecoverably past: an elegiac lament for youthful ideals.
  • adj. Of or composed in elegiac couplets.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of, or relating to an elegy.
  • adj. Expressing sorrow or mourning.
  • n. A poem composed in the couplet style of classical elegies: a line of dactylic hexameter followed by a line of dactylic pentameter

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Belonging to elegy, or written in elegiacs; plaintive; expressing sorrow or lamentation
  • adj. Used in elegies
  • n. Elegiac verse.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In ancient prosody, an epithet noting a distich the first line of which is a dactylic hexameter and the second a pentameter, or verse differing from the hexameter by suppression of the arsis or metrically unaccented part of the third and the sixth foot, thus:
  • Verses or poems consisting of elegiac distichs are called elegiac verses or poems (elegiacs); poetry composed in this meter, elegiac verse or poetry (the elegy); and the writers who employed this verse, especially those who employed it exclusively or by preference, are known as the elegiac poets. Elegiac verse seems to have been used primarily in threnetic pieces (poems lamenting or commemorating the dead), or to have been associated with music of a kind regarded by the Greeks as mournful. Almost from its first appearance in literature, however, it is found used for compositions of various kinds. The principal Roman elegiac poets are Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid. In modern German literature the elegiac meter has been frequently used, especially by Goethe and Schiller. Coleridge's translation from the latter poet may serve as an example in English.
  • Belonging to an elegy, or to elegy; having to do with elegies.
  • Expressing sorrow or lamentation: as, elegiac strains.
  • n. A pentameter, or verse consisting of two dactylic penthemims or written in elegiac meter.
  • A succession of distichs consisting each of a dactylic hexameter and a dipenthemim; a poem or poems in such distichs: as, the Heroides and Tristia of Ovid are written in elegiacs. See I.

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

  • adj. expressing sorrow often for something past
  • adj. resembling or characteristic of or appropriate to an elegy

Etymologies

Late Latin elegīacus, from Greek elegeiakos, from elegeia, elegy; see elegy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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