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 From there, Bartlett uses Shakespearean iambic pentameter to point up the disparity between petty-minded behavior and grandiose dreams of a return to power. David Benedict, Variety, 13 Apr. 2022 Washington is no stranger to iambic pentameter, but his Macbeth is more piercing in his sighs than in his utterances. Los Angeles Times, 14 Jan. 2022 Elizabethan iambic pentameter has been trimmed, while keeping the songs intact and leaving room for spontaneous actor-audience interactions. Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2021 This man has arrived with actual bits and jokes and a series of riddles written in iambic pentameter to introduce The Tight Ass Party. Ali Barthwell, Vulture, 8 Sep. 2021 Shakespearean: Project your scream and use iambic pentameter. Dani Alvarez, The New Yorker, 11 July 2021 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 See More

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.

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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The first known use of pentameter was in 1580

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Cite this Entry

“Pentameter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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