Chorus vs. Choir: Difference and Meaning

Chorus vs. Choir

Let’s have a look at chorus vs. choir. A chorus and a choir have similar meanings, but that doesn’t mean they refer to the same thing. If we’re talking about people, a choir is always a part of a chorus, but a chorus can’t always be called a choir. It gets even more complicated when used to describe a thing – in that context, a chorus and a choir couldn’t be more different. They might feel interchangeable, but you can’t swap out “choir” for “chorus” in any old sentence! Let’s review the differences between a choir and a chorus to know which one to use. 

Choir

You’re probably already familiar with a choir and may even hear one every Sunday. The most common definition for a choir is a group of vocalists, like the singers who lead a church in weekly hymns. But choir could also be used to describe the area where singers stand each week, which means a general area with seats or benches could still be called a choir (even when singers aren’t present). Even further, one could even call any organized group a choir. You could have a choir of instruments or a choir of editors, for example. The most common use of choir may be to describe singers, but choir is much more versatile than most English speakers realize. 

Chorus

Just like choir, there are different definitions for chorus! A common misconception is that a chorus refers to a group of organized singers, just like a choir. The problem is that a chorus is actually much more nuanced. If you are seeing a musical, the chorus includes not just singers, but also dancers and other performers. At the opera, the chorus refers to a very specific group of singers who sing – you guessed it – the chorus.

That leads us to yet another definition of a chorus, which is a repeating section of a song. Finally, you could certainly refer to a chorus of frogs croaking in a pond, a chorus of cheers from the audience, or a chorus of laughter.

What Does “Preaching to the Choir” mean? 

Preaching to the choir is a common idiom in the English language when trying to convince someone who is already convinced. A response of, “You’re preaching to the choir!” essentially means, “You don’t need to convince me; I already agree!” 

Related: We have a whole section on common phrases and expressions here.

Ready to join your local musical production as part of the chorus? Or would you prefer to be in the church choir so that you can focus purely on singing? Put the chorus of your favorite song on repeat and enjoy a choir of soothing melodies! 

Examples From Inspiring English Sources

The key thing about the fidgety, sonic assault that is Skrillex’s Dirty Vibe isn’t the head-spinning bass drop that stands in for the chorus, or the fact that Big Bang heart-throb G-Dragon seems to be wearing lollipops as hair bands, but the way it teases us with one of 2015’s prospective megastars. – The Guardian

Writing about the St. Thomas choir in The New York Times in 2004, Allan Kozinn said, “It produces a polished, powerful and beautifully balanced sound that for sacred music — particularly that of the Renaissance and Baroque, historically sung by all-male choirs — is about the best that New York has to offer”. – The New York Times

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