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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — elegiac

September 29, 2012
Word of the Day
audio pronunciation\el-uh-JYE-ak\
a : of, relating to, or consisting of two dactylic hexameter lines the second of which lacks the arsis in the third and sixth feetb : of or relating to the period in Greece about the seventh century B.C. when poetry written in such couplets flourished
: of, relating to, or comprising elegy or an elegy; especially : expressing sorrow often for something now past
The editorial was an elegant, elegiac lament for the golden era of the author's long-ago past.

 "His speech was ruminative and elegiac, marking the closing of an era rather than the closing of a conference." — From an article by Eitan Kensky in The Forward, May 15, 2012
"Elegiac" was borrowed into English in the 16th century from the Late Latin "elagiacus," which in turn derives from the Greek "elegeiakos." "Elegeiakos" traces back to the Greek word for "elegiac couplet" or "elegy," which was "elegeion." It is no surprise, then, that the earliest meaning of "elegiac" referred to such poetic couplets. These days, of course, the word is also used to describe anything sorrowful or nostalgic. As you may have guessed, another descendant of "elegeion" in English is "elegy," which in its oldest sense refers to a poem in elegiac couplets, and now can equally refer to a somewhat broader range of laments for something or someone that is now lost.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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