cae·​su·​ra si-ˈzyu̇r-ə How to pronounce caesura (audio) -ˈzhu̇r- How to pronounce caesura (audio)
plural caesuras or caesurae si-ˈzyu̇r-(ˌ)ē How to pronounce caesura (audio)
in modern prosody : a usually rhetorical break in the flow of sound in the middle of a line of verse
Greek and Latin prosody : a break in the flow of sound in a verse caused by the ending of a word within a foot
: break, interruption
a caesura between the movie and its sequel
: a pause marking a rhythmic point of division in a melody
si-ˈzyu̇r-əl How to pronounce caesura (audio)

Did you know?

Caesuras (or caesurae) are those slight pauses one makes as one reads verse. While it may seem that their most obvious role is to emphasize the metrical construction of the verse, more often we need these little stops (which may be, but are not necessarily, set off by punctuation) to introduce the cadence and phrasing of natural speech into the metrical scheme. The word caesura, borrowed from Late Latin, is ultimately from Latin caedere meaning "to cut." Nearly as old as the 450-year-old poetry senses is the general meaning of "a break or interruption."

Examples of caesura in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web During the concert Friday night, the important silences between movements — caesuras central to the impact of the music — were consistently broken by applause. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Mar. 2023 Nearly every line is interrupted with a caesura (a period, em dash, comma or question mark), mirroring a zigzagging mind. Mark Wunderlich Victoria Chang, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2022 However, with a likely yearslong caesura between Muti’s tenure and, well, whoever’s, why get ahead of ourselves? Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 9 Sep. 2022 Details like these are scattered throughout the first half of the novella, partly so Wallace can establish a generational caesura between Fogle and his father, the Reagan-campaign contributor. Jon Baskin, The New Yorker, 27 July 2022 For Rapsody’s verse, medial caesura fashions a rhythmic back and forth — a left-foot, right-foot two-step. Adam Bradley, New York Times, 4 Mar. 2021 There's a caesura, and then all the hands in the congregation go up. Michael Paterniti, GQ, 26 June 2018 Mr. Korstvedt, the Bruckner Society president, pointed to the Fifth as an important caesura, concluding Bruckner’s earlier period with its daring fugal finale. David Allen, New York Times, 13 Jan. 2017 Jonathan Waldorf, 11, who was missing the sixth grade that day to attend the match, found the action on the V.I.P. monitors fascinating, including the tense caesurae between moves. John Leland, New York Times, 11 Nov. 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'caesura.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Late Latin, from Latin, act of cutting, from caedere to cut

First Known Use

circa 1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of caesura was circa 1567


Dictionary Entries Near caesura

Cite this Entry

“Caesura.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


cae·​su·​ra si-ˈzu̇r-ə How to pronounce caesura (audio) -ˈzhu̇r- How to pronounce caesura (audio)
plural caesuras or caesurae -ˈzu̇(ə)r-(ˌ)ē How to pronounce caesura (audio)
: a break in the flow of sound usually in the middle of a line of verse

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