Etymology
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rhapsody (n.)

1540s, "epic poem," also "a book of an epic" (suitable for recitation at one time), from French rhapsodie, from Latin rhapsodia, from Greek rhapsōidia "verse composition, recitation of epic poetry; a book, a lay, a canto," from rhapsōdos "reciter of epic poems," literally "one who stitches or strings songs together," from stem of rhaptein "to stitch, sew, weave" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend") + ōidē "song" (see ode).

According to Beekes, the notion in the Greek word is "originally 'who sews a poem together', referring to the uninterrupted sequence of epic verses as opposed to the strophic compositions of lyrics." William Mure ["Language and Literature of Antient Greece," 1850] writes that the Homeric rhapsōidia "originally applied to the portions of the poems habitually allotted to different performers in the order of recital, afterwards transferred to the twenty-four books, or cantos, into which each work was permanently divided by the Alexandrian grammarians."

The word had various specific or extended senses 16c.-17c., mostly now obsolete or archaic. Among them was "miscellaneous collection, confused mass (of things)," thus "literary work consisting of miscellaneous or disconnected pieces, a rambling composition." This, now obsolete, might be the path of the word to the meaning "an exalted or exaggeratedly enthusiastic expression of sentiment or feeling, speech or writing with more enthusiasm than accuracy or logical connection of ideas" (1630s). The meaning "sprightly musical composition" is recorded by 1850s.

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rhapsodize (v.)

c. 1600, "to piece together (narratives)," a sense now obsolete; 1806, "to talk rhapsodically, express with poetical enthusiasm;" see rhapsody + -ize. Related: Rhapsodized; rhapsodizing.

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rhapsodist (n.)

1650s, in reference to ancient Greece, "a reciter of epic poems" (especially Homer's), from French rhapsodiste, from rhapsode, from Greek rhapsōdos "a rhapsodist" (see rhapsody). From 1741 as "one who uses rhapsodic language, one who speaks or writes with exaggerated sentiment or expression." For the classical sense, rhapsode later was used in English (1834).

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rhapsodic (adj.)

"characteristic of, or of the nature of, rhapsody; exalted or exaggeratedly enthusiastic, marked by extravagance of idea and expression," 1782, from Latinized form of Greek rhapsōdikos "of or for a rhapsodist," from rhapsōidia (see rhapsody). Related: Rhapsodical; Rhapsodically (c. 1600).

rhapsodic(al). The short form is now usually limited to the original sense 'of the Greek rhapsodes', while -ical has usually & might well have only the secondary sense of ecstatically expressed or highflown [Fowler]
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rhapsodomancy (n.)

"divination by means of verses," by 1738, from French rhapsodomancie, from Greek rhapsodos "a rhapsodist" (see rhapsody) + -manteia (see -mancy). Also compare sortes under bibliomancy.

There were various methods of practicing rhapsodomancy—Sometimes they wrote several verses or sentences of a poet, on so many pieces of wood, paper, or the like; shook them together in an urn; and drew out one, which was accounted the lot. Sometimes they cast dice on a table, whereon verses were wrote; and that whereon the dye lodged, contained the prediction. [Chambers' "Cyclopædia," London, 1738]
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tragedy (n.)

late 14c., "play or other serious literary work with an unhappy ending," from Old French tragedie (14c.), from Latin tragedia "a tragedy," from Greek tragodia "a dramatic poem or play in formal language and having an unhappy resolution," apparently literally "goat song," from tragos "goat, buck" + ōidē "song" (see ode), probably on model of rhapsodos (see rhapsody).

The connection may be via satyric drama, from which tragedy later developed, in which actors or singers were dressed in goatskins to represent satyrs. But many other theories have been made (including "singer who competes for a goat as a prize"), and even the "goat" connection is at times questioned. Meaning "any unhappy event, disaster" is from c. 1500.

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schmaltz (n.)

"banal or excessive sentimentalism," 1935, from Yiddish shmalts, literally "melted fat," from Middle High German smalz, from Old High German smalz "animal fat," related to smelzan "to melt" (see smelt (v.)). Modern German Schmalz "fat, grease" has the same figurative meaning.

Hot musicians look down on sweet bands, which faithfully follow the composer's arrangements. They condemn the monotony of such music, repeated by thousands of bands on dance and radio programs. Being themselves improvisers, they feel superior to those musicians who follow unrebelliously the notes before them and their conductor's wand. Schmaltz (cf. the German schmalz, meaning grease) is derogatory term used to straight jazz. [E.J. Nichols and W.L. Werner, "Hot Jazz Jargon," in Vanity Fair, November 1935]

Also in Jewish-American cookery, in schmaltz herring (by 1914).

The boss herring, at least for Yiddish speakers and their descendants, is the schmaltz herring, possibly because of its name. There is no schmaltz in schmaltz herring, just plenty of fish fat. [Michael Wex, "Rhapsody in Schmaltz," 2016]
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