1. a funeral song or tune, or one expressing mourning in commemoration of the dead.
  2. any composition resembling such a song or tune in character, as a poem of lament for the dead or solemn, mournful music: Tennyson’s dirge for the Duke of Wellington.
  3. a mournful sound resembling a dirge: The autumn wind sang the dirge of summer.
  4. Ecclesiastical. the office of the dead, or the funeral service as sung.


  1. a chant of lamentation for the dead
  2. the funeral service in its solemn or sung forms
  3. any mourning song or melody

early 13c., dirige (current contracted form is from c.1400), from Latin dirige “direct!” imperative of dirigere “to direct,” probably from antiphon Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectu tuo viam meam, “Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight,” from Psalm v:9, which opened the Matins service in the Office of the Dead. Transferred sense of “any funeral song” is from c.1500.

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