pen·​tam·​e·​ter | \ pen-ˈta-mə-tər How to pronounce pentameter (audio) \

Definition of pentameter

: a line of verse consisting of five metrical feet

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In a line of poetry written in perfect iambic pentameter, there are five unstressed syllables, each of which is followed by a stressed syllable. Each pair of syllables is a metrical foot called an iamb. Much of the greatest poetry in English has been written in iambic pentameter; Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton used it more than any other meter. Robert Frost's line "I'm going out to clean the pasture spring" is an example of it; his "And miles to go before I sleep" is instead an example of iambic tetrameter, with only four accented syllables.

Examples of pentameter in a Sentence

a poem written in iambic pentameter
Recent Examples on the Web Delivering lines about the two devoted coalitions in iambic pentameter is truly a standout of the season. Alamin Yohannes,, 22 Apr. 2021 Wearing sweatpants, doing acting exercises like trilling my tongue and learning iambic pentameter. Roberta Naas, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2021 The book received plenty of praise, but many critics missed the point, describing Betts’s work as raw and gritty, when the title poem is entirely in blank verse — unrhymed iambic pentameter. Adam Bradley, New York Times, 4 Mar. 2021 Nobles, for instance, tend to speak in iambic pentameter, while commoners speak in prose. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Oct. 2020 Aside from being a nice, tongue-twisting bit of iambic pentameter, What makes lymphatic massage therapy so special? Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, 31 Jan. 2020 Doescher and della Quercia relate the history of MacTrump in mock-Elizabethan lingo and mostly iambic pentameter. Joseph Peschel | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 3 Oct. 2019 Consider this example: In Elizabethan England, William Shakespeare wrote plays in iambic pentameter. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, 17 May 2019 The usually reliable Gnapp makes for a blocky Claudius, chugging through lines as if buoyed by the iambic pentameter and nothing more. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pentameter.' 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 pentameter

1580, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pentameter

Latin, from Greek pentametros having five metrical feet, from penta- + metron measure — more at measure

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Time Traveler for pentameter

Time Traveler

The first known use of pentameter was in 1580

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Statistics for pentameter

Last Updated

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pentameter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for pentameter



English Language Learners Definition of pentameter

technical : a rhythm in poetry that has five stressed syllables in each line

More from Merriam-Webster on pentameter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pentameter Encyclopedia article about pentameter


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