an·​a·​cru·​sis ˌa-nə-ˈkrü-səs How to pronounce anacrusis (audio)
plural anacruses ˌa-nə-ˈkrü-ˌsēz How to pronounce anacrusis (audio)
: one or more syllables at the beginning of a line of poetry that are regarded as preliminary to and not a part of the metrical pattern
: upbeat
specifically : one or more notes or tones preceding the first downbeat of a musical phrase

Word History


borrowed from New Latin & Greek; New Latin, borrowed from Greek anákrousis, ánkrousis "act of pushing back, beginning of a song," noun derivative (with the suffix -sis -sis), from anakroúein "to push back, strike up, begin (a melody)," from ana- ana- + kroúein "to strike, knock, play," going back to Indo-European *kreu̯s- "strike," whence also Lithuanian krùšti "to crush, trample," Old Church Slavic krušiti "to smash"

First Known Use

1763, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of anacrusis was in 1763

Dictionary Entries Near anacrusis

Cite this Entry

“Anacrusis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

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