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A poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas. Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part of the folk culture. Recorded from the late 15th century (denoting a light, simple song), the word comes via Old French from Provençal balada ‘to dance’, from late Latin. The sense ‘narrative poem’ dates from the mid 18th century, and was used by Johnson in the Rambler.

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