Definitions

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

  • n. A form of lyric verse of the Provençal troubadours satirizing political figures, personal rivals, or social morals.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mostly satirical song sung by the troubadours of Provence

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A peculiar species of poetry, for the most part devoted to moral and religious topics, and commonly satirical, -- often used by the troubadours of the Middle Ages.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music, a service-song (so called in distinction from a love-song), a kind of song composed by the trouvères and troubadours of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, usually to satirize the faults and vices of the great and of the society of their day

Etymologies

French, from Provençal sirventes, from Old Provençal, from sirvent, servant (the position of a lover towards his mistress), from Latin serviēns, servient-, present participle of servīre, to serve, from servus, servant.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French sirvente, from Pr. sirventes, sirventesc, originally, the poem of, or concerning, a sirvent, from sirvent, properly, serving, n., one who serves (e.g., as a soldier), from servir to serve, Latin servire. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The sirvente was a song of war or politics, sometimes satirical, sometimes in praise of the exploits of a generous patron.

    Woman's Work in Music

  • Perchance you know a ballade, villanelle, or sirvente which would fall sweetly on ears too long accustomed to howling wolves and rainy winds. '

    Three Hearts and Three Lions

  • The old Roman lay of the asylum on the Palatine Hill might almost serve as matter for a Norman _sirvente_, for the policy which it attributes to Romulus, and which was followed by his successors, was the policy adopted by Rollo, and which his successors maintained.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 108, October, 1866

  • The rhymes in the sirvente differed from what we consider correct by consisting always of a repetition of the same word.

    Woman's Work in Music

  • For he was making a sirvente in praise of Guenevere.

    Jurgen A Comedy of Justice

  • The knight in the meantime, had brought the strings into some order, and after a short prelude, asked his host whether he would choose a _sirvente_ in the language of _oc_, or a _lai_ in the language of

    Ivanhoe

  • I remember well that, at the siege of Retters, there was a little, sleek, fat clerk of the name of Chaucer, who was so apt at rondel, sirvente, or tonson, that no man dare give back a foot from the walls, lest he find it all set down in his rhymes and sung by every underling and varlet in the camp.

    The White Company

  • A complete prosody of the language of _canso_ and _sirvente_, of _vers_ and _cobla_, of _planh_,

    The Flourishing of Romance and the Rise of Allegory (Periods of European Literature, vol. II)

  • This _sirvente_ which was apparently composed during a brief interval during which the jongleurs amused the company, was read in a sonorous voice by Archbishop Boniface.

    Romance of Roman Villas (The Renaissance)

  • Barral had composed and committed to memory a _sirvente_ or song of battle which he proposed to write out, paper and quill being permitted him in deference to his broken jaw.

    Romance of Roman Villas (The Renaissance)

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