Glossary of Poetry Terms


Measures of Verse – Types of Metre  |  Tetrasyllables  |  Verse Forms


Measures of Verse – Types of Metre

Below, “short/long” definitions of a syllable of classical languages correspond to “unstressed/stressed” of English language.

  • Iamb: short-long
  • Trochee or Choreus, choree: long-short
  • Spondee: long-long
  • Pyrrhic or dibrach: short-short
  • Dactyl: long-short-short
  • Anapaest or antivdactylus: short-short-long
  • Amphibrach: short-long-short
  • Amphimacer or cretic: long-short-long
  • Molossus: long-long-long
  • Tribrach: short-short-short


  • primus paeon: long-short-short-short
  • secundus paeon: short-long-short-short
  • tertius paeon: short-short-long-short
  • quartus paeon: short-short-short-long
  • first epitrite: short-long-long-long
  • second epitrite: long-short-long-long
  • third epitrite: long-long-short-long
  • fourth epitrite: long-long-long-short
  • minor ionic, or double iamb: short-short-long-long
  • major ionic: long-long-short-short
  • diamb: short-long-short-long
  • ditrochee: long-short-long-short
  • antispast: short-long-long-short
  • choriamb: long-short-short-long
  • tetrabrach or proceleusmatic: short-short-short-short
  • dispondee: long-long-long-long

Verse Forms

  • ‘a Gra’ Reformata’ Ten stanza’s of ABA CD ABA CD ABA CD ABA CD ABA CD ABAC. Following the rhyme scheme of the ‘Villanelle’, but with five extra couplets just after each tercet.
  • Ballade: Three stanzas of “ababbcbC” followed by a refrain of “bcbC”. The last line of each, indicated by the capital letter, is repeated verbatim.
  • Chant royal: Five stanzas of “ababccddedE” followed by either “ddedE” or “ccddedE”. (The capital letters indicate a line repeated verbatim.)
  • Cinquain: “ababb”.
  • Clerihew: “aabb”.
  • Couplet: “aa”, but usually occurs as “aa bb cc dd …”.
  • Enclosed rhyme (or enclosing rhyme): “abba”.
  • Ghazal: “aa ba ca da …”.
  • Limerick: “aabba”.
  • Monorhyme: “aaaaa…”, an identical rhyme on every line, common in Latin and Arabic
  • Ottava rima: “abababcc”.
  • Rhyme royal: “ababbcc”.
  • Rondelet: “AbAabbA”.
  • Rubaiyat: “aaba”.
  • Sapphics
    • Petrarchan sonnet: “abba abba cde cde” or “abba abba cdc cdc”.
  • Shadorma: an allegedly Spanish six-line stanza, syllable-count restricted form, 3/5/3/3/7/5)
    • Shakespearean sonnet: “abab cdcd efef gg”.
    • Simple 4-line: “abcb”
    • Spenserian sonnet: “abab bcbc cdcd ee”.
    • Onegin stanzas: “aBaBccDDeFFeGG” with lowercase letters representing assonant rhymes and the uppercase representing end-rhymes
  • Spenserian stanza: “ababbcbcc”.
  • Tanaga: traditional Tagalog tanaga is aaaa
  • Terza rima: “aba bcb cdc …”, ending on “yzy z” or “yzy zz”.
  • Triplet: “aaa”, often repeating like the couplet.
  • Verbless poetry

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