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Grammar Chaos: Remembering What Is Lost—Elegy versus Eulogy

Death can be a different topic to talk about. Loss is difficult to deal with, and all of us cope with it differently. One way to do it is to hold ceremonies where we remember the deceased through words. But when you’re asked to do so, will you know the difference between an elegy and a eulogy.


Elegy vs Eulogy

An elegy is a piece of literature, usually a poem or a song, which is written as a lament for someone who has recently passed. Elegies are written in a mournful tone and bear a lot of emotion. However, elegies are not always delivered at funerals. Any poem written in alternating hexameter and pentameter lines (also known as elegiac meter) may also be called an elegy.


  1. They published a collection of elegies about Edgar Allan Poe.

  2. Rumor is, the song is an elegy for the songwriter’s dead grandmother.


Elegy

A eulogy, on the other hand, is a speech or narrative that is delivered at a person’s funeral. In the speech, the person is given tribute and remembered for the life they have lived on earth. Unlike an elegy, a eulogy does not necessarily have to be a piece of literature, nor does it have to have a mournful tone. Eulogies offer respect and praise to the deceased person.


  1. The priest was asked to deliver a eulogy at the bishop’s funeral.

  2. He broke down crying in the middle of his eulogy.


Eulogy

The similarities between the two words are, much like other confusing word pairs in the English language, mere coincidence. The word eulogy contains the prefix “eu-,” which means “good” or “true.” The prefix can be found in words such as euphoria. On the other hand, elegy comes from the Greek “elegos,” which means “song of mourning.”


To remember the difference between the two, remind yourself that an elegy is "a sad poem", while a eulogy is "a praiseful speech".



Sources:


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