definitions a-z


ACCENT - The prominence or emphasis given to a syllable or word.

ACCENTUAL VERSE - A verse in which the metrical system is based on the count or pattern of accented syllables, which establishes the rhythm.

ACROSTIC POEM - A poem in which certain letters of the lines, usually the first letters, form a word or message relating to the subject.

ADJECTIVE - A word used to limit or qualify a noun; one of the eight traditional parts of speech.

ALEXANDRINE - A line of poetry containing twelve syllables.

ANAPAEST - Is a metrical foot used in formal poetry.

ANTONYM - A word opposed in meaning to another, as the English words young, old; opposed to synonym.

APHORISM - A brief statement containing an important truth or fundamental principle.

APOLOGUE - An allegorical narrative such as a fable, usually intended to convey a moral or a useful truth.

APOSIOPESIS - Stopping short of a complete thought for effect, thus calling attention to it.

APOSTROPHE - Words that are spoken to a person who is absent or imaginary, or to an object or abstract idea.

ASSONANCE - Resemblance in sound; specifically, in prosody, correspondence of the accented vowels, but not the consonants, as in main, came.


BALLAD - A narrative poem or song of popular origin in short stanzas, often with a refrain.

BALLADE - A poem typically consisting of three eight line stanzas, each with a consistent meter and a particular rhyme scheme.

BLANK VERSE - Without rhyme or set stanzas.

BURLESQUE - Ludicrous imitation or representation of serious literary work; broad caricature; travesty.

BUCOLIC - A pastoral poem, refer to Pastoral.


CAESURA - In prosody, a break or pause in the middle of a foot, usually near the middle of the verse.

CANZONE - A medieval Italian lyric poem, with five or six stanzas and a shorter concluding stanza.

CINQUAIN - A poem consisting of five lines, each line different in form and theme. Example: Line 1 = One word title. Line 2 = Two words describing the title. Line 3 = Three words that tell the action. Line 4 = Four words expressing the feeling. Line 5 = One word recalling the title.


COUPLET - A poem consisting of rhyming stanzas, each made of two lines.


DECASYLLABLE - A line of verse of having ten syllables - decasyllabic (adj.).

DRAMATIC LYRIC - Emphasis is placed upon the poem's subject rather than speaker. (Speaker: addresses one or more silent auditors; recognised indirectly by the reader).

DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE - Lyric poem in which the speaker is a persona; created by the poet.


ECLOGUE - A poem of a Shepherd.

ELEGY - A mediative poem with sorrowful theme. (Common definition since 17th century).

EPIC - A poem celebrating in stately, formal verse the achievements of heroes, gods and demigods: also heroic epic. Example: Homer's Iliad & Odyssey & Vergil's Aeneid.

EPIGRAM - A short, pithy poem, especially one ending with a caustic point.

EPITHALAMIUM - A poem in honour of a bride or groom.

ENVOY - The shorter final stanza in a poem, as in a ballade.


FALLING METER - A poem consisting of movement from stressed to unstressed syllables.

FOOT - Two or more syllables that together make up the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem.

FREE VERSE - Verse depending on its poetic effect upon irregular rhythmical pattern, either absence or irregularity of rhyme, and the use of cadenced speech rhythms rather than conventional verse forms.


HAIKU - A poem in imitation of a Japanese verse form, consisting of three lines of five, seven and five syllables respectively.

HEPTAMETER - A line of poetry that consists of seven metrical feet.

HEXAMETER - A line of poetry that consists of six metrical feet.

HYPERBOLE - A figure of speech in which deliberate exaggeration is used for emphasis.


IDYL/IDYLL - A short poem or prose piece depicting simple scenes of pastoral, domestic, or country life; also a more descriptive or narrative poem.

IAMB - A metrical foot of two syllables, one short (or unstressed) and one long (or stressed).

IMAGERY - Words drawing the reader into the poetic verse with the use of images and senses already known to the reader..

INTERNAL RHYME - The rhyming of a word or group of syllables in a line or verse, as the word before the caesura, with a word or group of syllables at the end of the line or another line: also called leonine rhyme.


LAY - A long narrative poem.

LIMERICK - A light, humorous poem of five usually anapaestic lines with the rhyme scheme of aabba. Lines 1, 2 and 5 feature seven to ten syllables. Lines 3 and 4 feature five to seven syllables.

LITOTES - A figure of speech in which a positive is stated by negating its opposite.

LYRIC - Characterising verse expressing the poets' personal emotions or sentiments; songlike: distinguished from epic, dramatic.


METAPHOR - A figure of speech in which one object is likened to another by speaking of it as if it were that other: distinguished from simile by not employing and word of comparison, such as like or as.

METAPHRAST - One who renders poetry into prose or prose into poetry, or changes the meter of the verse.

METONYMY - A figure of speech in which one word is substituted for another with which it is closely associated. Example: The pen is mightier than the sword. The word pen is used for the written words and sword is used for military power.

METER - The use of rhythms at regular intervals.

MEIOSIS - A figure of speech that consists of saying less than one means, or saying what one means with less force than the occasion warrants.

MIXED METAPHOR - Figurative language in which incongruous and often contradictory, metaphors are used; confusion of figurative with plain statement.


NARRATIVE POEM - Continuous account of an event, or series of events.

NEAR RHYME - In prosody, a more or less radical substitute for rhyme, including such devices as assonance and consonance: also called paraphone, half rhyme and oblique rhyme.

NOUN - A word used as the name of a thing, quality, or action existing or conceived by the mind; a substantive. A proper noun is the name of an individual person, place or thing. A common noun is the name an individual object has in common with others of its class, as man, city or hill; a collective noun  is one expressing a collection or aggregate of individuals, as assembly, army; an abstract noun is one indicating a quality, as goodness, beauty.


OCTOSYLLABIC - Composed of eight syllables as a line of verse - octosyllable (n.).

ODE - A lyric poem, rhymed or unrhymed, of lofty tone, treating progressively one dignified theme, often in the form of an address.

ONOMATOPOEIA - A figure of speech in which words are used to imitate sounds. Examples of onomatopoeic words - buzz, hiss, zing, clipperty-clop, cock-a-doodle-do, pop, splat, thump and tick-tock.

OXYMORON - A figure of speech consisting of contradictory terms brought together sharply, as in the phrase: O heavy lightness, serious vanity.


PARADOX - A statement, doctrine, or expression seemingly absurd or contradictory to common  notions or to what would naturally be believed, but in fact is really true.

PASTORAL - A poem dealing with rural matters; a bucolic; an idyl/idyll.

PENTAMETER - A line of poetry that contains five metrical feet.

PERSONA - Literally, person; specifically, a character in a drama, novel, poem etc.

PERSONIFICATION - The figurative endowment of inanimate objects or qualities with personality or human attributes.

POEM - A composition in verse either in meter or in free verse, characterised by the imaginative treatment of experience and a heightened use of language, more intensive than ordinary speech.

POESY - Poetry taken collectively.

POETASTER - An inferior poet; a mere rhymer or writer of mediocre verse.

POETIC - Pertaining to poetry; having the nature  or quality of /or expressed in poetry: a poetic theme.

POETIC LICENSE - The departure from the rules of diction, pronunciation, or from what is generally regarded as fact, for the sake of rhyme, meter, or an overall enhancement of effect.

POETICS - The principles and nature of poetry or, by extension of any art.

POETIZE - To write poetry.

POETRY - The writing of poems; the art by which the poet projects feelings and experience onto an imaginative plane, in rhythmical words, to stir the imagination and the emotions.

PROSODY - The science or study of poetic meters and versification.


QUATRAIN - A stanza or poem of four lines.


REFRAIN - A phrase, line or group of lines that is repeated throughout a poem, usually after every stanza.

RHYME - A correspondence of sounds in two or more words, especially at the ends of lines of poetry.

RHYTHM - Is measured in feet, usually consisting of accented syllables and one or more lightly accented syllable.


SCANSION - The analysis of a poem's meter.

SENRYU - A short Japanese poem that is similar to a haiku in structure but treats human beings rather than nature, often in a humorous or satiric way.

SIMILE - A rhetorical figure expressing comparison or likeness, by the use of such terms as like, as etc.

SONNET - A poem of fourteen decasyllabic or (rarely) octosyllabic lines, originally composed of an octave and a sestet, properly expressing two successive phases of a single thought or sentiment. (Petrarchan, or Italian sonnet) the rhyme scheme for the octave is abbaabba, followed by two or three other rhymes in the sestet, with a slight change in thought after the octave. (Elizabethan, or Shakespearian sonnet) the rhyme scheme is ababcdcdefefgg.

SPONDEE - A metrical foot of two syllables, both of which are long (stressed).

STRESSES - The emphasis placed on a particular syllable or word as part of the rhythm of a poem or a line. Associated with sonnets.

SYLLABLE - A word or part of a word uttered in a single vocal impulse, and consisting of a vowel alone or with one or more consonants, or of a syllabic consonant. An open syllable is one ending in a vowel, as the first syllable of si-lent; a closed syllable is one ending in a consonant, as the first and third syllables of cat-a-pult.

SYNECDOCHE - A figure of speech in which a part is used to designate the whole or the whole is used to designate a part. Example: All hands on deck means all men on deck, not just their hands. The reverse situation in which the whole is used for a part; Australia defeated England in the final test match, where Australia and England stand for the Australian team and the England team.

SYNONYM - A word having the same or almost the same meaning as some other; hence one of a number of words that have one or more meanings in common: opposite of antonym.

SYNTAX - A poem that word order may be shifted around to meet emphasis, to heighten the connection between two words, or to pick up on specific implications or traditions.


TANKA - A Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third composed of five syllables and the rest of seven.

TAUTOLOGY - The use or words that merely repeat elements of the meaning already conveyed.

TERMINAL RHYME - The rhyming of a word or group of syllables at the end of a verse with that of another verse in the same stanza or poem.

TETRAMETER - A line of poetry that contains four metrical feet.

TROCHEE - A metrical foot of two syllables, one long (stressed) and the other short (unstressed).

TROPE - A figure of speech, such as a metaphor or metonymy, in which words are not used in their literal (or actual) sense, but in a figurative or imaginative sense.


VERB - One of a class of words which assert, declare, or predicate something; that part of speech which expresses existence, action, or occurrence, as the English words be, collide, think.

VERSE - A single metrical line of poetry, or poetry in general (as opposed to prose).

VERSIFICATION - The system of rhyme and meter in poetry.


ZEUGMA - A figure of speech in which a single word, usually a verb or adjective is used in the same grammatical and semantic relationship with two or more other words.