Definition of scansion in English:



mass noun
  • 1The action of scanning a line of verse to determine its rhythm.

    ‘the verse defies easy scansion’
    • ‘Some of the entries failed to make the grade because their authors apparently didn't understand the scansion required.’
    • ‘Very few children, for example, are now familiar with nursery rhymes, which not only fuel the imagination but form an introduction to scansion, rhythm and interesting vocabulary.’
    • ‘This kind of annotation of the rhythmic structure of a verse is called scansion, and the basic rhythmic pattern of a poem (if it has one) is called its meter.’
    • ‘After a brisk run-through of key terms - they include scansion, rhyme, caesura, verse - he proceeds to a series of Shakespearean speeches for analysis, which form the main section here.’
    • ‘It is a commentary on our times, that to us it seems if not odd, then certainly unexpected that a warrior and statesman should devote his attention to intricate questions of scansion and metrics.’
    • ‘Using conventional scansion the lines would scan.’
    • ‘But I'm not sure that I take your point about the equivalence of Japanese and English syllables in scansion.’
    1. 1.1 The rhythm of a line of verse.
      ‘triple scansion’
      • ‘The rest of the line follows the regular scansion, but this departure from the formal scansion at the start of the line contributes to its extraordinary power and helps to make it so memorable.’
      • ‘But for a poet concerned with scansion, as Chaucer was, that weak ending the final e offered was a blessing.’
      • ‘Where others would use more flowery language to remain within the rhyming scheme and scansion they have set up, he can find simple ways to do it, so it doesn't become contorted.’
      • ‘I took the liberty of fiddling with the scansion in Lines 3 and 7.’
      • ‘Tennyson's epic Charge of the Light Brigade was really just McGonagall with a competent rhyme scheme and effective scansion!’


Mid 17th century: from Latin scansio(n-), from scandere ‘to climb’; compare with scan.