Definition of meter
- iambic meter
- ballad meter
Meter is a metric measurement slightly longer than a yard; thus, a 100-meter dash might take you a second longer than a 100-yard dash. But the word has a different sense in music, where people aren't separated by whether they use the metric system. For a musician, the meter is the regular background rhythm, expressed by the "time signature" written at the beginning of a piece or section: 2/2, 2/4, 3/8, 4/4, 6/8, etc. Within a meter, you can create rhythms that range from the simple to the complex. So, for example, "America the Beautiful" is in 4/4 meter (or "4/4 time"), but so are most of the rhythmically complex songs written by Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, or Stevie Wonder. In ordinary conversation, though, most people use "rhythm" to include meter and everything that's built on top of it. In poetry, meter has much the same meaning; however, poetic meters aren't named with numbers but instead with traditional Greek and Latin terms such as iambic and dactylic.
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
First Known Use: 1797See Words from the same year
First Known Use: 1815See Words from the same year
: device used to measure something
What made you want to look up meter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
to lessen the seriousness or strength of
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