Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


alexandrine (ălˌĭgzănˈdrēnˌ, –drīnˌ), in prosody, a line of 12 syllables (or 13 if the last syllable is unstressed). Its name probably derives from the fact that some poems of the 12th and 13th cent. about Alexander the Great were written in this meter. In French, rhyming couplets of two alexandrines of equal length, usually containing four accents, have been the classic poetic form since the time of Ronsard, e.g., in the dramas of Racine and Corneille. In English an iambic hexameter line is often called an alexandrine. The most notable example is found in the Spenserian stanza, which contains eight iambic pentameters and an alexandrine rhyming with the last pentameter. Pope's “Essay on Criticism” contains what is probably the most quoted alexandrine in English literature:
A needless alexandrine ends the song
That like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) In French versification, a 12–syllable line with fixed accents on the sixth and 12th syllables and a caesura after the sixth syllable. The rhyme pattern is a a b b (heroic alexandrine) or a b a b (elegiac alexandrine) with obligatory alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes. Alexandrine verse has been known since the 12th century; the name is derived from a 12th-century poem about Alexander of Macedonia. During the age of classicism it was the canonical meter of the epic, tragedy, and other exalted genres. During the age of romanticism it acquired greater freedom of sound and was applied to any content.

(2) In Russian poetry, iambic hexameter with a caesura after the third foot and with a rhyme pattern of a a b b and alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes. In the 18th century it was used in “high” genres; in the post-Pushkin era it is found primarily in antique stylizations. An example of the Russian alexandrine is K. F. Ryleev’s satire “To the Favorite.”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The larger Alexandrine species, though more friendly than the other parrots, are particularly noisy.
"Christmas is our busiest time for rescuing birds and this is the second Alexandrine I've taken in this week."
The alexandrine's length can be curtailed, you see,
The poem, notes Cornulier, starts out with a classical Alexandrine in 6 + 6 ("Qu'est-ce que pour nous mon coeur / que les nappes de sang") and quickly dissolves into lines of twelve syllables that cannot easily be divided into 6 + 6, 8 + 4, or 4 + 8 without the caesura landing on a conjunction ("et") or an unstable e, violating two of the most sacred rules of traditional metered verse.
Here she uncovers the diary of Alexandrine, companion to the Dauphin Louis-Charles, learns about her struggle to save him from death in revolutionary Paris and her fight to let him know he is not forgotten when he is imprisoned.
In Paris, Andi is given an old guitar wich contains diary that belonged to Alexandrine Paradis, daughter of a family of entertainers.
Most interesting, perhaps, is the double-translating of the play: Virginia Scott, a Moliere scholar, did a rough prose translation after which Constance Congdon, a playwright put it into verse, changing Moliere's Alexandrine couplets into iambic pentameter, as being more familiar to English-speakers.
"Murwab is an exceptional site in that the settlement dates exclusively from the 9th century at the very beginning of the Abbasid period," Dr Alexandrine Guerin, the Chief for the archaeological campaign, told The Peninsula.
Besides the description of her desert expeditions, Arita Baaijens has written a section on desert travelers which include two women: Alexandrine Tinne and Rosita Forbes.
The two poetic prophecies in this edition--one in decasyllabic rhymed couplets, the other in monorhymed alexandrine laisses--are translations into Anglo-Norman of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Latin text of Prophetia Merlini ('Prophecies of Merlin').
The Echo last week revealed how Stephen Daley, of Gabalfa, Cardiff, was conned into paying pounds 170 for a bird described as an Alexandrine parrot as an early 50th birthday present for wife Sheila.