Definition of prosody in English:



mass noun
  • 1The patterns of rhythm and sound used in poetry.

    ‘the translator is not obliged to reproduce the prosody of the original’
    • ‘In other words, without a sense of the context I am obliged to provide here, if you want a fully textured morsel of that local flavor, you'll get nothing but my poor attempts at prosody.’
    • ‘But, however brilliant the translators' work may be, obviously it is not ideal; the composers' prosody must necessarily suffer, and the character of the opera change.’
    • ‘Even when it is concerned with poems written in fixed verse forms, it pays no attention to prosody, discussing the texts in question as if they were, in fact, written in prose.’
    • ‘The argument in favor of hexameter is thus analogous to Coleridge's endeavor to free himself from syllabic prosody in Christabel.’
    • ‘He cared deeply about Greek and Latin history and mythology and possessed a comprehensive knowledge of the prose, poetry and prosody of the eighteenth century.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, however high his standards of prosody and musical composition, he has relaxed his standards about the stuff he chooses to ornament.’
    • ‘My ‘form group’ of writers had continued to meet and I regularly discussed prosody with a friend and poet who writes consistently and beautifully using given forms.’
    • ‘Its many polymorphous delights include its being a casebook of prosody, but its real achievement is its musically endgame equipoise and its intelligent, credible wisdom.’
    • ‘Verse would have clothed it in the qualifications of prosody.’
    • ‘What makes this (I think misnamed) book worthwhile is that it is, in fact, a very good introduction to English prosody, to the rules of versification, metre, rhyme, and so on, as they apply to more traditional poetry.’
    • ‘The development of an appropriate poetic line is one of the most enduring interests and concerns of prosody.’
    • ‘What made prosody a central concern for these thinkers (evidenced by the failed race to perfect quantitative prosody in English participated in by Spenser, Sidney and others)?’
    • ‘By contrast, Chapter 6 uses the prosody of classical Greek poetry to illuminate the Seventh Symphony.’
    • ‘But like Hopkins, Lin wants almost every syllable to pop in some way, and he pushes the line across the page quickly, impatiently, challenging the ear to assimilate its bounding prosody.’
    • ‘My emphasis is upon ‘how it's made ’, what poetic ‘tricks of the trade’ can be found in the poems in terms of dramatic situation, lines, image, prosody, voice, and so on.’
    • ‘There is no song without prosody, no prosody without song.’
    • ‘OK, so in this absolutely fascinating education in poetry, the English classics, say, with all their various and intricate prosodies, didn't play a central role?’
    • ‘Her diction, her art of prosody, the amorous passion that he brings into her troubling singing make up for her hard and rather metallic tone.’
    • ‘Transcribed excerpts of the lyrics will be analyzed with respect to phonetics, phonology, morpho-syntax, prosody, and lexis.’
    • ‘Earlier British attempts to adopt the meter, such as that of Sir Philip Sidney, failed only because they clung to the quantitative system of classical prosody.’
    1. 1.1 The theory or study of prosody.
      ‘a general theory of prosody’
      • ‘The second edition of 1575 tops this up with, among other things, the first treatise on prosody in English.’
      • ‘Traditional prosody describes the rhythm of poetry as the meaningful counterpoint of speech pattern against a fixed abstract meter.’
      • ‘Surviving journals, notebooks, and letters articulate his profound responsiveness to nature and beauty, his acumen as a literary critic and theorist of prosody, his playful wit and devoted friendliness.’
      • ‘Further ventures into prosody and theory I leave until senior classes.’
      • ‘By good luck I heard that a former professor of mine was about to teach a course in prosody - the study of poetic metre, rhyme and stanza.’
      • ‘First, with respect to prosody, he believes that the syllable count of poetic lines, strophes, stanzas, and poems was essential to the writing of biblical poetry.’
      • ‘The editors begin their work with a detailed introduction to the collection's contents and also include a few pages of ‘the basic terms of prosody used in this book’.’
  • 2The patterns of stress and intonation in a language.

    ‘the salience of prosody in child language acquisition’
    count noun ‘early English prosodies’
    • ‘He believed that jazz was the essential American art form, and that no-one before him had seen the true potential of jazz prose or bop prosody.’
    • ‘Sometimes his structures would be clear in a spoken form, but strain the capacities of punctuation in the absence of prosody.’
    • ‘The mother's spoken responses, which at first convey to the baby only feelings - the shared affective language of posture and prosody - begin to carry specific semantic content.’
    • ‘The fundamental importance of prosody in relation to human speech and song, where the timing of stress within a word can determine its linguistic function as noun or verb, is well expressed in ‘office psalmody’.’
    • ‘Craft lore was his phrase for the kind of knowing that's always just escaping our grammars and prosodies - partly, we surmise, because these are described knowledges.’
    • ‘Consequently, we need to scrutinize next the role of prosody, as well as the role of the word, syllable, and phonotactic nature of children's speech.’
    • ‘The current dude flap features exchanges consisting entirely of occurrences of the word dude, with varying prosodies and accompanying gestures, the whole thing telling a story.’
    • ‘But announcing the discovery of prosody (she was actually talking mainly about sentence intonation, not other prosodic features) seems a bit much.’
    • ‘Do you think it is possible, or desirable, to identify a specifically female language or prosody?’
    • ‘The ultimate goal is to articulate, provisionally, a new theoretical and historical contextualization of early modern prosody.’
    • ‘In which case, the difference between Japanese and Dutch prosody might be intrinsically more learnable for a large class of abstract learning systems than is the difference between the reverse of these languages.’
    • ‘The results suggest the right side of the brain is important for processing emotional tone, or prosody, while the left side is important for processing emotional meaning, or semantics.’
    • ‘But what I liked about ‘isotropic rigmarole’ was its prosody, anyhow.’
    • ‘Although older adults have greater difficulty than younger adults when the rate of speech is more rapid, use of prosody remains largely unaffected by age.’
    • ‘It's said that way, with the local accent and prosody.’
    • ‘It is therefore quite difficult to separate the prosody of the language from that of the song.’
    • ‘Finally, this Sunday strip has no connection to syntax or prosody, but does highlight the inadequacy of modern lexicography.’
    • ‘Evaluations of prosody, of course, are a slippery undertaking, and it certainly bears pointing out that the ‘authoritative’ decipherings of a computer still leave much open to interpretation.’


Late 15th century: from Latin prosodia ‘accent of a syllable’, from Greek prosōidia ‘song sung to music, tone of a syllable’, from pros ‘towards’ + ōidē ‘song’.