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From French ballade, from Old Occitan ballada (poem for a dance), from Late Latin ballare. Doublet of ballade.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbæləd/
  • (Appalachians, obsolete) IPA(key): /ˈbælɪt/[1]
  • (file)


ballad (plural ballads)

  1. A kind of narrative poem, adapted for recitation or singing; especially, a sentimental or romantic poem in short stanzas.
    The poet composed a ballad praising the heroic exploits of the fallen commander.
    • 1882, John Ashton, “Origin of Ballads”, in John Skelton, A Ballade of the Scottysshe Kynge. [], London: Elliot Stock, [], →OCLC, page 1:
      Of all varieties of poetry, the Ballad, in the form which it affects among us, in distinction to other countries, is, perhaps, one of the most attractive.
    • 1885, Gilbert and Sullivan, The Mikado, act 1:
      A wandering minstrel I — / A thing of shreds and patches, / Of ballads, songs and snatches, / And dreamy lullaby!
  2. A slow romantic song.
    On Friday nights, the roller rink had a time-block called "Lovers' Lap" when they played nothing but ballads on the overhead speakers.

Derived terms[edit]



ballad (third-person singular simple present ballads, present participle ballading, simple past and past participle balladed)

  1. (obsolete) To make mention of in ballads.
  2. (intransitive) To compose or sing ballads.



  1. ^ Hall, Joseph Sargent (March 2, 1942), “3. The Consonants”, in The Phonetics of Great Smoky Mountain Speech (American Speech: Reprints and Monographs; 4), New York: King's Crown Press, →DOI, →ISBN, § 6, page 98.