Definition of anacrusis in English:



  • 1Prosody
    One or more unstressed syllables at the beginning of a verse.

    • ‘The Old English poem contains only about eighty instances of anacrusis, for example.’
    • ‘A full anapestic metre with feminine ending gives somewhat the effect of anacrusis, since a third light syllable must be crowded in between the stresses.’
    • ‘Coleridge seems not to have noticed that the tenth line is actually a heptameter - unless one were to allow a double anacrusis.’
  • 2Music
    One or more unstressed notes before the first bar line of a piece or passage.

    • ‘Again they sound at the same speed as in bar 4 (if the two-to-one tempo-relationship is observed), but this time they act as anacrusis to a vigorous statement of ‘c’.’
    • ‘Edward's final, truthful, answer, ‘O, I have killed my father dear,’ explodes at the end of the third stanza of the poem and in the music at the anacrusis to measure 44.’
    • ‘The first subphrase is a modified inversion of the first measure of the Mother's theme, motives a and b and the first note of motive c, excluding the anacrusis but including the grace note.’
    • ‘This restatement of the Mother's opening chord provides the vehicle for a sudden shift of tonality to B-flat major and Edward's final answer at the anacrusis to measures 44 and following.’


Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek anakrousis prelude from ana- up + krousis, from krouein to strike.