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[dak-til] /ˈdæk tɪl/
Prosody. a foot of three syllables, one long followed by two short in quantitative meter, or one stressed followed by two unstressed in accentual meter, as in gently and humanly. Symbol: .
a finger or toe.
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin dactylus < Greek dáktylos finger, a dactyl, referring to the three joints of the finger


[dak-til] /ˈdæk tɪl/
noun, plural Dactyls, Dactyli
[dak-ti-lahy] /ˈdæk tɪˌlaɪ/ (Show IPA).
Classical Mythology
any of a number of beings dwelling on Mount Ida and working as metalworkers and magicians.
Also, Daktyl.
< Greek Dáktyloi (Idaîoi) (Idaean) craftsmen or wizards (plural of dáktylos; see dactyl)


variant of -dactylous, especially with nouns:
pterodactyl. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for dactyl
  • Sorrow is ever by the side of joy, the spondee beside the dactyl.
British Dictionary definitions for dactyl


(prosody) Also called dactylic. a metrical foot of three syllables, one long followed by two short (– ◡ ◡) Compare bacchius
(zoology) any digit of a vertebrate
Word Origin
C14: via Latin from Greek daktulos finger, dactyl, comparing the finger's three joints to the three syllables
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for dactyl
late 14c., from Gk. dactylos "finger," of unknown origin; the metrical use (a long syllable followed by two short ones) is by analogy with the three joints of a finger.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dactyl in Medicine

dactyl dac·tyl (dāk'təl)
A finger or toe; digit.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for dactyl

metrical foot consisting of one long (classical verse) or stressed (English verse) syllable followed by two short, or unstressed, syllables. Probably the oldest and most common metre in classical verse is the dactylic hexameter, the metre of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and of other ancient epics. Dactylic metres are fairly rare in English verse, one difficulty being that the prolonged use of the dactyl tends to distort normal word accent, giving the lines a jerky movement. They appeared with regularity only after poets like Robert Browning and Algernon Charles Swinburne successfully used the form in the 19th century. Dactylic rhythm produces a lilting movement as in the following example from Byron's Bride of Abydos:

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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