Word of the Day – Reprise


1 a : a musical repetition:
(1) : the repetition of the exposition preceding the development
(2) : the third section of a sonata form : recapitulation
b : a repeated performance : repetition
2 : a recurrence, renewal, or resumption of an action
3 : a deduction or charge made yearly out of a manor or estate

Did You Know?

When reprise was first adopted into English in the 15th century, it referred to a deduction or charge made yearly out of a manor or estate (and was usually used in the plural form reprises). It probably won’t surprise you, then, to learn that reprise comes from an Anglo-French word meaning “seizure, repossession, or expense.” Eventually, reprise came to refer to any action that was repeated or resumed. A later sense, borrowed from modern French, applies to specific types of repetition in musical compositions. That sense was eventually generalized to describe any subsequent and identical performance. It’s possible, for example, to have a reprise of a television program or a book.


“What was sweet and touching and only slightly comic in its original presentation becomes ridiculous in its reprise. It is the same song, and it is not.” — Steve Swayne, How Sondheim Found His Sound, 2005

“Belushi, a new film…, tells us everything we might want to know about the late, great John Belushi’s life and more, and yet the final minutes felt to me like a virtual reprise of Amy, the 2015 Amy Winehouse documentary, and other tales of fallen celebrity.” — Ty Burr, The Boston Globe, 18 Nov. 2020

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