Definition of alcaic in English:



  • Using or denoting a verse metre occurring in four-line stanzas.

    • ‘He turned it down, but the first six odes of Book III, very serious - minded and written in alcaic metre, are closely aligned with Augustus’ policies.’
    • ‘It was monodic, and was composed in a variety of lyric metres in two or four-line stanzas, including the alcaic stanza, named after him.’
    • ‘There aren't many intact alcaic stanzas, but it is an important one [(Horace used in in his Odes [e.g.,])] and you should be familiar with it.’
    • ‘Auden's elegy for Sigmund Freud follows the alcaic syllable-count (though not its rhythm).’
    • ‘The paper will also attend to some critical implications of the meter's movement, and will end by pointing to successors of Auden - poets like John Hollander and Marilyn Hacker - who followed his example and took up the alcaic meter in their own verses.’

plural noun

  • Alcaic verse.

    • ‘He employed the classical elegiacs and alcaics with ease, and was equally at home with trochaic and iambic lines.’
    • ‘In translating the odes, for example, I kept to their syllabic count and tried to engender rhythms akin to but not identical with those engendered by alcaics in German.’
    • ‘The first six odes of Book 3 are sometimes referred to as the Roman Odes, written in stately alcaics in elevated style on patriotic themes.’
    • ‘Later, he was taught to turn English verse into alcaics and sapphics in Horatian style, as well as imitating Virgil, Ovid and the Greek tragedians.’
    • ‘According to the Speccie he knows the difference ‘between a tribrach and a molossus, a sapphic and an alcaic’.’


Mid 17th century: via late Latin from Greek alkaikos, from Alkaios (see Alcaeus).