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Eulogy vs. Elegy

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The English language is full of confusing words that mix up writers and speakers alike, and most of this confusion surrounds English homophones. If two words have the same pronunciation but different meanings, they are called homophones. A classic set of homophones is principal and principle. While elegy vs. eulogy aren’t exactly homophones (since they have slightly different pronunciations), they are close enough to cause confusion, so today I want to take the time to address their differences.

In this post, I want to talk about the uses of these words and their functions in a sentence. I will provide sentence examples and pronunciation guides, so you will know exactly how each word works and how it sounds.

Origin:

The word eulogy originated from late Middle English (in the sense ‘high praise’): from medieval Latin eulogium, eulogia (from Greek eulogia ‘praise’), apparently influenced by Latin elogium ‘inscription on a tomb’ (from Greek elegia ‘elegy’). The current sense dates from the late 16th century. The word elegy originated in early 16th century: from French élégie, or via Latin, from Greek elegeia, from elegos ‘mournful poem’.

Eulogy as noun:

Eulogy is used as a noun in English language where it means a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died.

He wrote the perfect eulogy for the Queen Mother.

Elegy as noun:

Elegy is also used as a noun in English language where it refers to a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead in modern literature.

Her elegy at Elena’s funeral brought tears in everyone’s eyes.

Examples:

Occasionally, as with Laura Fraser’s beautiful, clear-eyed recent elegy for her lost lover, somebody hits it out of the park. [Salon.com]

A eulogy written by Jobs’s sister, author Mona Simpson, shared that his last words were “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” [Washington Post]

Poetry “makes nothing happen”, said Auden in his elegy for WB Yeats—but he was playing devil’s advocate. [London Evening Standard]

Hours after delivering a eulogy at Thurman Munson’s funeral in Ohio, Bobby Murcer drove in all the runs in the Yankees’ dramatic, emotional 5-4 comeback win over the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. [Newsday]

Eulogy or elegy:

It is common to see both of these words used during a funeral, but eulogy vs. elegy have different meanings. An Elegy is a mournful poem or song written about someone who has recently died. A Eulogy is a laudatory speech or written tribute praising someone who has recently died. Still not sure you can remember when to use eulogy or elegy? Here is a good trick to remember the difference. A eulogy is a formal speech and tends to be longer than a song or poem would be. In other words, a eulogy is longer than an elegy. Both eulogy and longer have an “LO” in them.

 

 

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"Eulogy vs. Elegy." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 24 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/eulogy_vs._elegy>.

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