Definitions

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

  • n. A song belonging to the folk music of a people or area, often existing in several versions or with regional variations.
  • n. A song composed in the style of traditional folk music.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A song originating among the working people of urban and rural areas, and handed by oral tradition.
  • n. A song in this style which may have been written in recent times.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. one of a class of songs long popular with the common people.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A song of the people; a song based on a legendary or historical event, or on some incident of common life, the words and generally the music of which have originated among the common people and are extensively used by them.
  • n. A song written in imitation of the simple and artless style of such a popular song.

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

  • n. a song that is traditionally sung by the common people of a region and forms part of their culture
  • n. a song that is traditionally sung by the common people of a region and forms part of their culture

Etymologies

folk + song (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Blind Lemon Jefferson's most famous folk song contains a wish that has been fulfilled by some of his many admirers.

    See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

  • At a subsequent celebration of the success of the Human Genome Project, sponsored by the Genetic Alliance, a heartwarming organization that exists to encourage and empower families who face rare genetic diseases, I rewrote the familiar folk song “All the Good People” to fit the occasion.

    The Language of God

  • Day-O by Harry Belafonte 1957, based on a Jamaican folk song

    Day-O

  • The first song we ever played in public was “Matuß Moja, Matuß” —“Mother Mine, Oh Mother”—a nice little folk song about a girl who wants to marry a guy because she loves the rings that hang from his leather belt.

    Hoopi Shoopi Donna

  • Its anthem, Pete Seeger's "We Shall Overcome" — a folk song turned labor song that Seeger had turned into a civil rights song when sit-ins began in 1960 — was sung in English from Japan to South Africa to Mexico.

    1968 the Year that Rocked the World

Comments

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  • Tom Lehrer: 'I should like to expound briefly on a theory I have held for some time, to the effect that the reason most folk songs are so attrocious is that they were written by the people, and that had professional songwriters written them instead, things might have turned out considerably differently.'

    February 11, 2008