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(pĕntăm`ətər) [Gr.,=measure of five], in prosody, a line to be scanned in five feet (see versificationversification,
principles of metrical practice in poetry. In different literatures poetic form is achieved in various ways; usually, however, a definite and predictable pattern is evident in the language.
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). The third line of Thomas Nashe's "Spring" is in pentameter: "Cold doth / not sting, / the pret / ty birds / do sing." Iambic pentameter, in which each foot contains an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable, is the most common English meter. Chaucer first used it in what was later called rhyme royal, seven iambic pentameters rhyming ababbcc; as Chaucer pronounced a final short e, his pentameters often end in an 11th, unstressed syllable. In his Canterbury Tales the pentameters are disposed in rhyming pairs. The pentameter couplet was used also by his imitators in Scotland, with the important difference that when the final e disappeared from speech the couplet became one of strict pentameters. This, known as the heroic couplet, became important in the 17th and 18th cent., notably in the hands of Dryden and Pope.
True wit is Nature to advantage dress'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd.
Pope, "Essay on Criticism"
Blank verse, a succession of unrhymed iambic pentameters, is primarily an English form and has been used in the loftiest epic and dramatic verse from Shakespeare and Milton to the present.
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Shakespeare, The Tempest, iv:1
The sonnetsonnet,
poem of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter, restricted to a definite rhyme scheme. There are two prominent types: the Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet, composed of an octave and a sestet (rhyming abbaabba cdecde
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 is one of the most familiar and successful uses of iambic pentameter in English poetry.



in ancient prosody, a dactylic line formed by doubling the first hemistich of a hexameter; each of the two hemistichs consists of two and a half dactylic feet. The hemi-stichs are divided by a caesura, and the dactyls may be replaced by spondees only in the first hemistich. The metric scheme is Pentameter.

The pentameter was used only in alternation with the hexameter, to form the elegaic couplet; in this form it was the basic meter of ancient elegies and epigrams. An example of a tonic rendition of an elegaic couplet whose second line is a pentameter follows (from a poem by A. S. Pushkin):

Slýshu umólknuvshii zvúk bozhéstvennoi éllinskoi réchi,

Stártsa velíkogo tén’ chúiu smushchë́nnoi dushói.


1. a verse line consisting of five metrical feet
2. (in classical prosody) a verse line consisting of two dactyls, one stressed syllable, two dactyls, and a final stressed syllable
3. designating a verse line consisting of five metrical feet
References in periodicals archive ?
In the paradigmatic iambic pentameter or decasyllabic line, the five even-numbered syllables in "strong" positions (syllables 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10) are stressed, while the five uneven-numbered syllables in "weak" positions are not.
If the rhythm seems to match the pattern of iambic pentameter, the tweet goes into a bin of potential lines of poetry.
The women don't actually teach the kids what iambic pentameter is, but the children are subconsciously learning it at free monthly poetry readings at The Rabbit Hole.
Iambic pentameter happened to be Shakespeare's facility, and when he writes prose it's a very straightforward, very ordinary kind of prose.
Shakespeare saw potential in iambic pentameter, in a similar way to the programmers who saw the basic search engines, and invented Google.
The latest Scottish crackdown on trafficking was part of the UK-wide Operation Pentameter 2.
It was part of UK-wide operation Pentameter 2 aimed at criminals selling victims for sex or forced labour.
Zhang was busted as part of Operation Pentameter 2 - a UK-wide crackdown on international sex trafficking.
Chips character who seems like a cross between the Pillsbury Doughboy and the Energizer Bunny, and who is given to regular outbursts of iambic pentameter.
In February, Operation Pentameter - the first anti sex trafficking drive involving all 55 police forces in the UK and Ireland - rescued 84 girls from brothels.
While lines in iambic pentameter are regulated by the meter, they vary from each other in the number of syllables, and in the exact pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables which constitutes the rhythm of the line.
Then they are confronted with the opening lines, a prologue in rhymed iambic pentameter.