Origin of the word
The word lyric comes from the Middle French word ‘lyrique’ meaning ‘a short poem expressing emotion’. It is derived from the Latin ‘lyricus’ and the Greek ‘lyrikos’, both meaning ‘of or singing to the lyre’. A lyre is a small stringed instrument traditionally used in ancient Greece, and typically played while singing or reciting poetry. In English, the word lyric was first recorded in the 1580s, and its alternate meaning referring to the words of a song was first recorded in English in 1876.
Lyric is a noun that refers to a short expressive poem or the words of a song. Lyric is also an adjective describing a type of formal poetry that conveys great emotion or feelings. These poems have a rhythm and sound that is almost musical when recited aloud. Some well-known lyric poems include “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” by Emily Dickinson and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth. Many of Shakespeare’s sonnets can also be classified as lyric poems.
An alternative — and more popular — definition of the word lyric is in reference to the words of a song. Sometimes, remembering the lyrics of a popular song can be rather difficult, but the rise of the internet and virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana have made it easier than ever to get the right lyrics to the song that’s stuck in your head.
According to a recent report from Amazon, here are the top five lyrics people asked Alexa about the most in 2017:
1. “I can make your hands clap” – ‘HandClap’ by Fitz and the Tantrums
2. “Head out on the highway” – ‘Born To Be Wild’ by Steppenwolf
3. “I got this feeling inside my bones” – ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’ by Justin Timberlake
4. “I came in like a wrecking ball” – ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus
5. “True love won’t desert you” – ‘Separate Ways’ by Journey
Business Insider. 4 October 2017: ‘The 13 song lyrics people ask about the most, according to Amazon Alexa data’.
1. the words of a song
2. a short expressive poem
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.