- a Greek choral song or chant of vehement or wild character and of usually irregular form, originally in honor of Dionysus or Bacchus.
- any poem or other composition having similar characteristics, as an impassioned or exalted theme or irregular form.
- any wildly enthusiastic speech or writing.
c.1600, from L. dithyrambus, from Gk. dithyrambos, of unknown origin, perhaps a pre-Hellenic loan-word. A wild choric hymn, originally in honor of Dionysus. Related: Dithyrambic.
"I'd written a good dissertation and I expected an honorable mention. Yet to my surprise I received a special commendation, and I was even more surprised when I saw the committee's report, which was excellent, practically dithyrambic."
- Michel Houellebecq, as translated by Lorin Stein, Submission