Definitions

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

  • n. A poem composed in elegiac couplets.
  • n. A poem or song composed especially as a lament for a deceased person.
  • n. Something resembling such a poem or song.
  • n. Music A composition that is melancholy or pensive in tone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mournful or plaintive poem; a funeral song; a poem of lamentation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mournful or plaintive poem; a funereal song; a poem of lamentation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In classical poetry, a poem written in elegiac verse.
  • n. A mournful or plaintive poem; a poem or song expressive of sorrow and lamentation; a dirge; a funeral song.
  • n. Any serious poem pervaded by a tone of melancholy, whether grief is actually expressed or not: as, Gray's “Elegy in a Country Churchyard.”
  • n. In music, a sad or funeral composition, vocal or instrumental, whether actually commemorative or not; a dirge.

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

  • n. a mournful poem; a lament for the dead

Etymologies

French élégie, from Latin elegīa, from Greek elegeia, from pl. of elegeion, elegiac distich, from elegos, song, mournful song.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1514, from Middle French elegie, from Latin elegia, from Ancient Greek ἐλεγεία ᾠδή ("an elegaic song"), from ἐλεγεία, feminine of ἐλεγεῖος ("elegaic"), from ἔλεγος ("poem or song of lament"), perhaps from Phrygian. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • ELEGY/EULOGY

    A speech praising the deceased person at a funeral is a eulogy. An elegy is a poetic form, usually with a sad or thoughtful subject. . . .
    http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/elegy.html

    January 1, 2011

  • "Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse,
    The place of fame and elegy supply:
    And many a holy text around she strews,
    That teach the rustic moralist to die."

    -- Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard

    June 18, 2009