Ode Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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You may have heard the word ode in popular songs, or maybe you’ve heard it in poetry or famous literary works. Even if you’ve heard this word before, it might still be difficult to ascertain its meaning just from context. 

Ode is a very useful word to know. It has a lot of importance in literature, so it’s a great word to understand if you appreciate lyricism and poetry.  

Today’s word of the day is ode. By the end of this short guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of the word ode, its definitions, its etymology, and how to use it. Let’s get started. 

What Is the Meaning of the Word Ode?

The word ode might only be three letters long, but the definition is a bit more complex than you might think. Here’s a definition of the word ode:

  • A type of poetry that is lyrical and short in length, typically written addressed to a person, place, or idea, that praises that thing

An ode is a lyric poem that is written to bring praise to something. Odes are often written addressed to a lover or romantic partner, but they can also be written about a place or idea. Many odes are written to talk about the glory of a part of nature or piece of architecture. 

In general, an ode is a relatively short form of poetry that typically does not exceed over 150 lines. These poems are typically written with a fairly irregular meter. The lines in an ode might not have perfect symmetry or length, but they will have a rhyme scheme that stays relatively consistent. 

In classical poetry, odes were literally meant to be songs that were sung. Most of the odes written throughout history were also written with musical accompaniment (some were even just pieces of music without lyrics). But over time, the definition of ode has changed, and now it simply refers to a lyrical poem with no music required. 

Odes in Popular Literature 

Odes are a very popular form of poetry, similar to strophe or epode, and many odes have been written by the great poets of history. Some of the most famous odes in history were written by the poet John Keats. 

Keats wrote six incredibly famous odes in 1819, the most famous of which were his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale.” 

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the famous poem “Ode to the West Wind,” and William Wordsworth wrote the famous work Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood. There are dozens of famous odes found throughout the history of poetry. 

Some of the first odes were written in about 23 BCA over 2000 years ago. The collection, called Odes, was written by the poet Horace, and it gave rise to the Horatian ode format. There are other ode forms as well, such as the Pindaric ode. 

Then, of course, there is Beethoven’s famous Ode to Joy, which is perhaps the most famous ode of all time, with a simply unforgettable melody. It has been used in thousands of popular TV shows and movies to score dramatic moments. 

This piece of music, found in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, represents the European Union and the human race becoming one. 

The Suffix -Ode

There are many words in the English language that end with the suffix -ode. This Latin suffix simply means “shaped like.” This word appears in a plethora of English words, such as geode, nematode, electrode, and phyllode.  

Where Did the Word Ode Come From?

To help clarify the definition of ode, let’s look at its etymology.

The word ode comes from several different evolutions of the ancient Greek word aude, which means “voice, tone, or sound.” Let’s go through all of these evolutions. 

The word aude gave rise to the Greek aoidos or oidos, which means a singer, or singing. This word was also related to aeidein or aiden, which means to sing, and the Greek ōidē or aoidē, which means song or ode.

From this Greek word, we get the Late Latin oda or ode, which means “lyric song.” This Late Latin word gave rise to the Old French ode in the 1500s. It is from this word that we get the English word ode.  

What Are Some Examples of the Word Ode in a Sentence?

Seeing a word in context can help bring more clarity to its definition and how you can use it in your own life. Here are some example sentences that use the word ode.

Have you read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by Keats? It’s a beautiful lyrical poem that talks about the connection between art and truth. 

I’ve been dabbling with poetry recently, and I’ve come to really enjoy the ode format for its simplicity and approachability. 

I wrote a short ode to ask this girl to prom. Do you think it will work?

I think we should sarcastically use the song “Ode to Joy” to underscore the scene where the character falls down the stairs in slow motion.

What Are the Synonyms of the Word Ode?

Here are some synonyms of the word ode that you might find in a thesaurus.

  • Ballad
  • Lyric
  • Limerick
  • Rhyme
  • Song
  • Verse

The Word Ode

Now you know everything you need to know about the word ode, its definition, its history, and how to use it. Use it confidently in your conversation and your writing, and don’t be afraid to return to this article for a refresher when you need one!


Classics 22: Etymology: Suffixes | University of Vermont 

ODE | Cambridge English Dictionary 

ODE | Meaning & Definition for UK English | Lexico