A threnody is a type of musical or poetic composition composed in memory of a dead person. The word was first used in 1634 when it was spelled thrænody, but the ash quickly got swapped out in favor of the letter e. That was taken directly from Ancient Greek threnodia, which is often translated as "lamentation". Threnodia was composed out of the roots threnos, meaning "wailing", and oide, meaning "ode" or "song". Threnos has an unknown origin: some think it's onomatopoeic, but there are cognates in Sanskrit, Latin, and Old English that suggest it may be Pre-Greek. Oide is related to the words melody, rhapsody, and others; it derives from the Proto-Indo-European root hweyd, meaning "sing". Usage of the word threnody peaked in 1904 and has been decreasing in utilization since.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.