AskDefine | Define Terpsichore

Dictionary Definition



1 (Greek mythology) the Muse of the dance and of choral song
2 taking a series of rhythmical steps (and movements) in time to music [syn: dancing, dance, saltation]

User Contributed Dictionary



from the Greek words τέρπεω (terpeo) "delight" and χoρός (choros) "dance"


IPA: /ˌtɝp.ˈsɪ.kə.(ˌ)ɹi/ SAMPA: /%t3`p."sI.k@.(%)ri/

Proper noun

  1. , Terpsichore ("delight of dancing") was one of the nine Muses, ruling over dance and the dramatic chorus. She is usually depicted sitting down, holding a lyre.


Extensive Definition

In Greek mythology, Terpsichore () ("delight of dancing") was one of the nine Muses, ruling over dance and the dramatic chorus. She lends her name to the word "terpsichorean" which means "of or relating to dance". She is usually depicted sitting down, holding a lyre, accompanying with her music to the dancers' choirs. She is sometimes said to be the mother of the Sirens by Achelous. Her name comes from the Greek words τέρπω ("delight") and χoρός ("dance").

Historical references

  • Terpsichore figures among her sisters in Hesiod's Theogony.
  • "Terpsichore" is the title of a large collection of dance tunes collected by Michael Praetorius, some originating with Pierre-Francisque Caroubel.
  • Terpsichore is also found in Couperin's "Second Ordre" from the "Pieces de clavecin".
  • Terpsichore is also found in the third version (HWV 8c) of Handel's opera Il pastor fido. This opera is sometimes referred to as Terpsicore and Il pastor fido.

Popular culture

  • Terpsichore is the name of the premiere all-female a cappella group at Boston University.
  • Terpsichore is the name of a street in uptown New Orleans.
  • Terpsichore is mentioned in the lyrics to the song Come Dance With Me written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen for Frank Sinatra.
  • Terpsichore is the name of a work of music for Wind Ensemble by Bob Margolis.
  • Terpsichore was portrayed by Rita Hayworth in the 1947 film Down to Earth.
  • Her name is also used as one of the weapons in Soul Calibur III. The dancer class's third weapon is called the terpsichore.
  • The John Cleese character in Monty Python's Cheese Shop sketch claims "I am one who delights in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse."
  • The Jellicle Cats in T. S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" and in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats" musical are said to have "terpsichorean powers" which they reserve "to dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon".
  • Tony Award winner LaChanze provided the voice for the muse Terpsichore in Walt Disney Pictures film Hercules.
  • In Daniel Quinn's My Ishmael, the fictional planet Terpischore is a land ravished by dancing, with dancing paralleling the rise of agriculture on Earth. Dancing (in an unspecified manner) speeds up the growth of the natives' "favorite foods."
  • Kurt Vonnegut's character Rabo Karabekian briefly makes reference to Terpsichore in Bluebeard (1987).
  • In the anime series Cowboy Bebop two characters' names are taken from the muse; Valeria Terpsichore and her unseen, but alluded to, husband Ural Terpsichore.
  • In the movie Xanadu (1980), Olivia Newton John plays the embodied muse Terpsichore (aka: "Kira"). She lends her inspiration to a dance club/nightspot called "Xanadu". At the end of the film, she and her sister muses leave, their work done, in the same way they arrived.
  • Terpsichorean was a popular adjective in Victorian music hall hyperbole. The long-running BBC TV series "The Good Old Days" recreated this style, with Leonard Sachs as a compère with a notable fondness for the word.
  • In the China Miéville book "The Scar", the main characters travel on a ship called the Terpsichoria.
  • Another reference in popular culture to the term "terpsichorean" is from Frank Zappa's "You Are What You Is" album, from the song "Mudd Club". Included herewith is the following lyric, "And all of the rest for whom to which to when so ever partially indeterminite biochemical degradation seek the path to the sudsy yellow nozzle of their foaming nocturnal parametric digital whole wheat interfaith geothermal terpsochorean ejectomenta".
  • In the Broadway Musical Xanadu, Terpsichore is played by Andre Ward
  • In the film Topsy Turvy by Mike Leigh the learning of the Japanese movements is referred to as terpsichory
  • Terpsichore (TERP) is the name of a patent pending wireless broadcast system for designing, directing, and driving human movement without rehearsal created by choreographer Patrice. M. Regnier.
Terpsichore in Arabic: تيربسيكوري
Terpsichore in Bosnian: Terpsihora
Terpsichore in Breton: Terpsic'hora
Terpsichore in Bulgarian: Терпсихора
Terpsichore in Catalan: Terpsícore
Terpsichore in Czech: Terpsichoré
Terpsichore in Danish: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in German: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in Modern Greek (1453-): Τερψιχόρη
Terpsichore in Spanish: Terpsícore
Terpsichore in Esperanto: Terpsiĥoro
Terpsichore in French: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in Korean: 테르프시코레
Terpsichore in Croatian: Terpsihora
Terpsichore in Italian: Tersicore
Terpsichore in Hebrew: טרפסיכורה
Terpsichore in Latin: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in Luxembourgish: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in Lithuanian: Terpsichorė
Terpsichore in Hungarian: Terpszikhoré
Terpsichore in Dutch: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in Japanese: テルプシコラー
Terpsichore in Norwegian: Terpsikhore
Terpsichore in Polish: Terpsychora
Terpsichore in Portuguese: Terpsícore
Terpsichore in Romanian: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in Russian: Терпсихора
Terpsichore in Slovak: Terpsichora
Terpsichore in Slovenian: Terpsihora
Terpsichore in Serbian: Терпсихора
Terpsichore in Serbo-Croatian: Terpsihora
Terpsichore in Finnish: Terpsikhore
Terpsichore in Swedish: Terpsichore
Terpsichore in Turkish: Terpsikhore
Terpsichore in Ukrainian: Терпсіхора
Terpsichore in Chinese: 忒耳普西科瑞

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Apollo, Apollo Musagetes, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Orpheus, Pierides, Polyhymnia, Polymnia, Thalia, artistic imagination, conception, creative imagination, creative power, creative thought, esemplastic imagination, esemplastic power, genius, inspiration, muse, mythicization, mythification, mythopoeia, poetic imagination, sacred Nine, shaping imagination, the Muses, the Nine, tuneful Nine
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