Definitions

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

  • n. Exalted or excessively enthusiastic expression of feeling in speech or writing.
  • n. A literary work written in an impassioned or exalted style.
  • n. A state of elated bliss; ecstasy.
  • n. Music A usually instrumental composition of irregular form that often incorporates improvisation.
  • n. An ancient Greek epic poem or a portion of one suitable for uninterrupted recitation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An ancient Greek epic poem (or part of one) suitable for uninterrupted recitation.
  • n. A random collection or medley; a miscellany or confused string of stories, words etc.
  • n. An exalted or exaggeratedly enthusiastic expression of feeling in speech or writing.
  • n. An instrumental composition of irregular form often incorporating improvisation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A recitation or song of a rhapsodist; a portion of an epic poem adapted for recitation, or usually recited, at one time; hence, a division of the Iliad or the Odyssey; -- called also a book.
  • n. A disconnected series of sentences or statements composed under excitement, and without dependence or natural connection; rambling composition.
  • n. A composition irregular in form, like an improvisation.”

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The recitation of epic poetry; hence, a short epic poem, or such a part of a longer epic as could be recited at one time: as, the Homeric rhapsodies.
  • n. The exaggerated expression of real or affected feeling or enthusiasm; an outburst of extravagant admiration or regard; especially, a poetic composition marked rather by exaggerated sentiment or fancy than by sober, connected thought.
  • n. In music, an instrumental composition in irregular form, somewhat like a caprice, impromptu, or improvisation, though properly more important: as, Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies.
  • n. Any rambling composition; a cento; hence, a medley; a jumble.

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

  • n. an epic poem adapted for recitation

Etymologies

Latin rhapsōdia, section of an epic poem, from Greek rhapsōidiā, from rhapsōidein, to recite poems : rhaptein, rhaps-, to sew; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots + aoidē, ōidē, song; see wed-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin rhapsōdia, from Ancient Greek ῥαψῳδία. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • September 13, 2005 15: 01 tom g: easy bohemain rhapsody by queen

    Get Creative (Music (For Robots))

  • What a piece of work is a man! they exclaim in rhapsody, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the world!

    The Psychology of the Suffragette

  • Sound (aka rhapsody) was a Pratt and Whitney tuning up after a 240-hour check.

    SHARKFORUM: OPINION WITH TEETH

  • The rhapsodes who went about Greece reciting Homer and other poets had lost the distinction they once enjoyed, and 'rhapsody' became a synonym for idle declamation.

    The Public Orations of Demosthenes, volume 2

  • Then suddenly he braced himself up with a kind of rhapsody, and looked at Birkin with vindictive, cowed eyes, saying:

    Women in Love

  • He had a habit of becoming so absorbed in his subject, as to slide down in his chair, hold his finger up toward the ceiling, and then, with his eye fastened on the tip of it, to go mumbling through a kind of rhapsody, which most of my German fellow-students confessed they could not understand.

    Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White, Volume I

  • The pomp of the ceremony was a kind of rhapsody, and fitter, I think, for Hudibras, than him; because the cavalcade was mostly burlesque: but he was an extraordinary man, and buried after an extraordinary fashion; for I do believe there was never such another burial seen.

    The Dramatic Works of John Dryden

  • We cannot guess how he found these things out, for corslets are as common in one "rhapsody" as in another when circumstances call for the mention of corslets, and are entirely unnamed in the Odyssey

    Homer and His Age

  • I happy — & I never see the leer of vice upon a beautiful face without feeling the heart ache pitying human nature & damning society. you will wonder at this kind of rhapsody from me perhaps, but you will perhaps agree with me in wishing society better. why is the door to

    Letter 67

  • I have already, you know, equipt three with words, and the other day I strung up a kind of rhapsody to another Hibernian melody, which I admire much.

    The Complete Works of Robert Burns: Containing his Poems, Songs, and Correspondence. With a New Life of the Poet, and Notices, Critical and Biographical by Allan Cunningham

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • bohemian rhapsody...

    June 24, 2012

  • Let it be said that I was too small to understand what either "bohemian" or "rhapsody" meant individually.

    Mamaaaaaa... just killed a man...

    November 29, 2007

  • Me three. And yet another earworm invades my brain. :-)

    November 29, 2007

  • As did I. Actually, I still agree. :-P

    November 29, 2007

  • When I was rather small, I decided that "bohemian rhapsody" was one of the most beautiful phrases ever devised.

    November 29, 2007