I was recently invited to contribute a piece of writing to commemorate a friend who has passed away. My writing, along with others, were compiled into a book that was passed out at the funeral; these were memorial tributes "in memoriam" of my friend, some prose and some poetry, but certainly not "obituaries." Is there a better word or phrase to refer to this type of writing than "eulogy," which, as far as I know, generally refers to a praise-filled speech?

Eulogy: A speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died (Source: Oxford Dictionaries)

EDIT: These writings range in tone from elegiac to eulogizing, which is why I hesitate to use the word "eulogy" as a blanket term.

  • Memorials? Memoria?
    – Jesse M
    Apr 18 '16 at 16:40

I believe you are speaking of an elegy, or elegiac writings:

a sad poem or song : a poem or song that expresses sorrow for someone who is dead


Also consider lamentation:

an expression of great sorrow or deep sadness


If you were attempting to find a word that fits all of these different types of writings, you might generally classify them as commemorative:

intended to honor an important event or person from the past


  • The OP said they did not want to call it elegiac or elegies.
    – Lambie
    Mar 18 '19 at 13:14
  • Elegy and eulogy are not the same.
    – ringo
    Mar 18 '19 at 13:55

Commemorative is best. It is like a small biography. I am writing several paragraphs about my mother's life as a handout. I like this term better than eulogy for this. Her life speaks for itself.

  • Yes. The word "commemorative" certainly used to exist as a noun, but the most recent example the OED has is from the seventeenth century 1649 F. Roberts Clavis Bibliorum (ed. 2) 31 A Commemorative of that wonderfull deliverance. 1669 T. Gale Court of Gentiles: Pt. I ii. viii. 110 Commemoratives of some Divine presence. Are you aware of people speaking of such tributes as "commemoratives", or of "writing a commemorative"?
    – WS2
    Mar 17 '19 at 7:32
  • @WS2: Googling "a commemorative for" shows that "commemorative" as a noun is still very much in use for stamps and coins, and is occasionally used for other artwork. I think it sounds fine, although elegy might be better for a piece of writing or music. Mar 18 '19 at 11:25
  • @PeterShor I usually see "commemorative" used as an adjective in the context of coins and stamps as in The Royal Mint has issued a commemorative coin honouring Stephen Hawking. Numismatists and philatlelists refer to "commemoratives" because, in their contexts coins and stamps can be assumed; a coin collectors' magazine might talk about "the Stephen Hawking 50p commemorative" for example. However to me this still sounds like an adjective, merely with the noun elided.
    – BoldBen
    Mar 18 '19 at 12:03

piece of writing

I'd say it counts as a collection of Eulogies.


The book of condolence(s), also called "condolence register", contains condolence messages.

Condolence definition (Cambridge dictionaries online): ​sympathy and ​sadness for the ​family or ​close ​friends of a ​person who has ​recently ​died, or an ​expression of this, ​especially in written ​form.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.