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) , -​ˈzhu̇r-​ \

Definition of caesura

1 in modern prosody : a usually rhetorical break in the flow of sound in the middle of a line of verse
2 Greek and Latin prosody : a break in the flow of sound in a verse caused by the ending of a word within a foot
3 : break, interruption a caesura between the movie and its sequel
4 : a pause marking a rhythmic point of division in a melody

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Other Words from caesura

caesural \ si-​ˈzyu̇r-​əl How to pronounce caesura (audio) , -​ˈzhu̇r-​ \ adjective

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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 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caesura.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of caesura

circa 1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for caesura

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

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The first known use of caesura was circa 1567

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Cite this Entry

“Caesura.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on caesura

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for caesura

Nglish: Translation of caesura for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about caesura


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