AskDefine | Define anthology

Dictionary Definition

anthology n : a collection of selected literary passages

User Contributed Dictionary



From ανθολογία (anthologia) "flower-gathering", from ανθολογέω (anthologeo) "to gather flowers", from άνθος (anthos) "flower" + λέγω (lego) "to gather, to pick up, to collect". Anthologiai were collections of small Greek poems and epigrams, because in Greek culture the flower symbolize the finer sentiments that only poetry can express.


  • (UK): /ænˈθɒlədʒɪ/
  • (US): /ænˈθɑlədʒi/


  1. A collection of literary works, such as poems or short stories.
  2. In the context of "by extension": An assortment of things.

Derived terms


collection of literary works
  • Croatian: antologija
  • Danish: antologi
  • Dutch: bloemlezing
  • Greek: ανθολογία (anthología)
  • Portuguese: antologia
  • Spanish: antología
assortment of things
  • Croatian: antologija

Extensive Definition

An anthology, literally a "garland" or "collection of flowers", is a collection of literary works, originally of poems. In genre fiction and especially science fiction, anthology is used to categorize collections of shorter works such as short stories and short novels, usually collected into a single volume for publication.
The word derives from the Greek word for garland — or bouquet of flowers — which was the title of the earliest surviving anthology, assembled by Meleager of Gadara. Meleager's Garland became the seed that grew into the Greek Anthology. The term miscellany is also used, but was more common in the past.
In medieval Europe the term florilegium, again meaning a collection of flowers, was used for an anthology of Latin proverbs and textual excerpts.
In music, the term refers to a collection of works by an artist with a long and varied career. While the definition would include typical "greatest hits" sets, the term is used as a marketing device to indicate a collection that can include a performer's best-known songs along with lesser known pieces, demos, live recordings, unreleased work, etc such as The Beatles Anthology in the 1990s, which also had a television series connected to it.
The term is also applied to a radio or TV programs, movies, comic books and other such media featuring a variety of different stories. Examples of radio anthologies are Suspense and Escape. Examples of TV anthologies are The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Tales from the Darkside and Tales from the Crypt, which was not only an HBO series but also a movie anthology, both based on the EC horror-comic anthology. Other examples of anthology films are Four Rooms and The Cat o' Nine Tails.
In East Asian tradition, an anthology was a recognised form of compilation of a given poetic form. It was assumed that there was a cyclic development: any particular form, say the tanka in Japan, would be introduced at one point in history, be explored by masters during a subsequent time, and finally be subject to popularisation (and a certain dilution) when it achieved wide-spread recognition. In this model, which derives from Chinese tradition, the object of compiling an anthology was to preserve the best of a form, and cull the rest.
In Malaysia, an anthology (or antologi in Malay) is a collection of syair, sajak (or modern prose), proses, drama scripts, and pantuns. Notable anthologies that are used in secondary schools include Sehijau Warna Daun, Seuntai Kata Untuk Dirasa, Anak Bumi Tercinta, Anak Laut and Kerusi. In the twentieth century, anthologies became an important part of poetry publishing, for a number of reasons. For English poetry, the Georgian poetry series was trend-setting; it showed the potential success of publishing an identifiable group of younger poets marked out as a 'generation'. It was followed by numerous collections from the 'stable' of some literary editor, or collated from a given publication, or labelled in some fashion as 'poems of the year'. Academic publishing also followed suit, with the success of the Quiller-Couch Oxford Book of English Verse encouraging other collections not limited to modern poetry. In fact the concept of 'modern verse' was fostered by the appearance of the phrase in titles such as the Faber & Faber anthology by Michael Roberts, and the very different William Butler Yeats Oxford Book of Modern Verse.
Since publishers generally found anthology publication a more flexible medium than the collection of a single poet's work, and indeed rang innumerable changes on the idea as a way of marketing poetry, publication in an anthology (in the right company) became at times a sought-after form of recognition for poets. The self-definition of movements, dating back at least to Ezra Pound's efforts on behalf of Imagism, could be linked on one front to the production of an anthology of the like-minded.
anthology in Czech: Antologie
anthology in Danish: Antologi
anthology in German: Anthologie
anthology in Spanish: Antología
anthology in Esperanto: Antologio
anthology in French: Anthologie
anthology in Korean: 앤솔러지
anthology in Croatian: Antologija
anthology in Indonesian: Antologi
anthology in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Anthologia
anthology in Italian: Antologia
anthology in Hebrew: אנתולוגיה
anthology in Latvian: Antoloģija
anthology in Lithuanian: Antologija
anthology in Dutch: Bloemlezing
anthology in Japanese: アンソロジー
anthology in Norwegian: Antologi
anthology in Low German: Anthologie
anthology in Polish: Antologia
anthology in Portuguese: Antologia
anthology in Russian: Антология
anthology in Slovak: Antológia
anthology in Finnish: Antologia
anthology in Swedish: Antologi
anthology in Walloon: Antolodjeye

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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