AskDefine | Define Jeremiad

Dictionary Definition

jeremiad n : a long and mournful complaint; "a jeremiad against any form of government"

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From jérémiade < Jérémie < Ieremias < ירמיה. Jeremiah was a biblical prophet who lamented the moral state of Judah and predicted her downfall.

Pronunciation

  • /ˌdʒɛr.əˈmaɪ.əd/
  • Rhymes with: -aɪəd

Noun

  1. A long speech or prose work that bitterly laments the state of society and its morals, and often contains a prophecy of its coming downfall.

Quotations

  • 1895 — Mary Gaunt, The Moving Finger, A Digger's Christmas
    "Father Maguire," he said in the broadest of Cork brogues, without the ghost of a smile on his grave Irish face, "is it a song yez wantin'? Well, thin, it's just a jeremiad I 'd be singin' yez, an' not another song at all, at all."
  • 2006: The Columbus Dispatch, May 5
    “This is precisely the manner of Balkanization that Schlesinger cautioned us about in his prescient jeremiad on multiculturalism, The Disuniting of America.”
  • 2007, The Guardian, http://film.guardian.co.uk/cannes2007/story/0,,2083430,00.html
    Cannes is smacking its lips in anticipation of filmmaker and provocateur Michael Moore's latest jeremiad against the US administration, which receives its premiere at the film festival today.

Synonyms

Translations

  • Finnish: valitusvirsi, vuodatus, jeremiadi
  • Norwegian: jeremiade, klagesang
  • Polish: jeremiada
  • Spanish: jeremiada
  • Swedish: jeremiad, klagovisa

Extensive Definition

A Jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in poetry, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society's imminent downfall.
The word is an eponym, named after the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, and is inspired by the tone of his surviving literary works, the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations. The Book of Jeremiah prophesies the coming downfall of the Kingdom of Judah, and asserts that this is because its rulers have broken the covenant with the Lord:
But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.
The Lamentations, similarly, lament the fall of the kingdom of Judah after the conquest prophesied by Jeremiah has occurred:
How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.
As such, the name jeremiad, in the sense of a dolorous tirade, is given to moralistic texts that denounce a society for its wickedness, and prophesy its downfall. Authors from Gildas to Robert Bork have had this label hung on their works. In contemporary usage, it is frequently pejorative, meant to suggest that the tone of the text is excessively pessimistic.

References

External links

Jeremiad in Russian: Иеремиада
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