A passage or formula in a poem or other work of literature, usually beginning with ‘where are—’, lamenting the mutability of things, the transitoriness of life and beauty, or the loss or death of particular individuals; a poem of this nature.
Originally referring to passages in medieval Latin poems beginning with ‘ubi sunt’.
Relating to or of the nature of such a formula, poem, motif, etc.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in Modern Language Notes. From post-classical Latin ubi sunt, lit. ‘where are’, as part of the characteristic wording of a literary topos employed in many medieval poems from classical Latin ubi where + sunt they are, 3rd plural present indicative of esse to be.