1. A brief responsive prayer used as the first item in the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Mass or in any of various other Christian liturgies, traditionally beginning with the Greek words Kyrie eleison ("Lord, have mercy").
2. A musical setting of this prayer.
[Late Latin Kȳrie (eleison), from Greek Kūrie eleēson, Lord, have mercy : Kūrie, vocative of kūrios, lord, master; see keuə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + eleēson, aorist imperative of elein, to show mercy (from eleos, mercy).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.