The main difference between Eulogy and Elegy is that the Eulogy is a speech in praise of a person, usually recently deceased and Elegy is a literary genre.
A eulogy (from εὐλογία, eulogia, Classical Greek, eu for “well” or “true”, logia for “words” or “text”, together for “praise”) is a speech or writing in praise of a person(s) or thing(s), especially one who recently died or retired or as a term of endearment.
Eulogies may be given as part of funeral services. They take place in a funeral home during or after a wake. However, some denominations either discourage or do not permit eulogies at services to maintain respect for traditions. Eulogies can also praise people who are still alive. This normally takes place on special occasions like birthdays, office parties, retirement celebrations, etc. Eulogies should not be confused with elegies, which are poems written in tribute to the dead; nor with obituaries, which are published biographies recounting the lives of those who have recently died; nor with obsequies, which refer generally to the rituals surrounding funerals. Catholic priests are prohibited by the rubrics of the Mass from presenting a eulogy for the deceased in place of a homily during a funeral Mass.
The modern use of the word eulogy was first documented in the 15th century and came from the Medieval Latin term eulogium (Merriam-Webster 2012). Eulogium at that time has since turned into the shorter eulogy of today.
Eulogies are usually delivered by a family member or a close family friend in the case of a dead person. For a living eulogy given in such cases as a retirement, a senior colleague could perhaps deliver it. On occasions, eulogies are given to those who are severely ill or elderly in order to express words of love and gratitude before they die. Eulogies are not limited to merely people, however; places or things can also be given eulogies (which anyone can deliver), but these are less common than those delivered to people, whether living or deceased.
In English literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead. The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy notes:
For all of its pervasiveness, however, the ‘elegy’ remains remarkably ill-defined: sometimes used as a catch-all to denominate texts of a somber or pessimistic tone, sometimes as a marker for textual monumentalizing, and sometimes strictly as a sign of a lament for the dead.
An oration to honor a deceased person, usually at a funeral.
Speaking highly of someone or something; the act of praising or commending someone or something.
A mournful or plaintive poem; a funeral song; a poem of lamentation. from early 16th c.
A composition of mournful character.