One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A metrical foot consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable.
- ‘The metre throughout is iambic tetrameter, alternating with trimeter - in other words, lines of four iambuses alternate with lines of three.’
- ‘Of the five kinds of feet illustrated here, the iambus is by far the most often used in English verse; the spondee is the rarest.’
- ‘They consist of a collection of seventeen poems in different versions of the iambus, the metre traditionally associated with lampoon.’
- ‘The aural effect, then, is that the second and last feet are always heard as true iambuses, while the first and/or third may be spondees.’
- ‘For example, an iamb / iambus or iambic foot is represented by an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one.’
Late 16th century: Latin, from Greek iambos ‘iambus, lampoon’, from iaptein ‘attack verbally’ (because the iambic trimeter was first used by Greek satirists).
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