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iambic pentameter


a common meter in poetry consisting of an unrhymed line with five feet or accents, each foot containing an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable

Word Origin

French iambique 'of a foot or verse' and Greek pentameter 'measure of five''s 21st Century Lexicon
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iambic pentameter in Culture
iambic pentameter [(eye-am-bik pen-tam-uh-tuhr)]

The most common meter in English verse. It consists of a line ten syllables long that is accented on every second beat (see blank verse). These lines in iambic pentameter are from The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare:

&Ibreve;n sóoth,/&Ibreve; knów/nŏt whý/&Ibreve; ám/sŏ sád.
&Ibreve;t wéa/riěs mé;/yŏu sáy/ĭt wéa/riěs yóu&ellipsis4;
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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