Definition of requiem in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrekwēəm/


(also requiem mass)
1(Especially in the Roman Catholic Church) a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.
Example sentences
  • The title of one of Baudelaire's poems, ‘De profondis clamavi,’ refers to the requiem Mass so that this ceremony is certainly within his ken.
  • It's really a dark piece of work, pretty much driven by Mozart's guilt over his father's death; in a lot of ways, I think it prefigures his requiem mass; a big, black truckload of woe.
  • For example, the first movement, ‘Introitus,’ uses the opening movement to the requiem mass with its reference to ‘lux perpetua luceat eis.’
1.1A musical composition setting parts of a requiem Mass, or of a similar character.
Example sentences
  • Musical settings of the requiem may be very public (Berlioz's, for example), or almost painfully private.
  • Right from a very young age, she was exposed to church music - masses, requiems by different composers.
  • Structured as a musical requiem, the score, as well Brian Emrich's soundscape, envelopes the action, making strong use of the audio landscape.
1.2An act or token of remembrance: he designed the epic as a requiem for his wife
More example sentences
  • There is a haunting beauty to Esther Parada's ‘When the Bough Breaks,’ her potent multimedia requiem to the American elm, which has all but vanished from the urban landscape due to Dutch elm disease.
  • I'd like to try to correct or balance this tendency by writing a sort of requiem for these Great Men or Dead White Males.
  • Perhaps the emotion expressed here is in part a requiem for Jobim, the inventor of bossa, who died from cancer in his fifties.


Middle English: from Latin (first word of the Mass), accusative of requies 'rest'.

  • This is from Latin requies ‘rest’, the first word of the Mass for the Dead, said or sung for the repose of their souls: Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine ‘Grant them, O Lord, eternal rest’. The Latin word goes back to quietus ‘quiet’, which is the source of quit, requite (early 16th century), and tranquil (early 17th century) and, via the French for quiet, coy (Middle English).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: req·ui·em

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