Definition of enjambment in US English:


(also enjambement)


  • (in verse) the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet, or stanza.

    ‘he uses enjambment less than many poets’
    count noun ‘flat language and clumsy enjambments’
    • ‘Those expecting the eccentric enjambement and biting wordplay of this artist will be disappointed.’
    • ‘Except when he's imitating children's taunts, the lines are uniformly stilted; they could be broken up with more telling enjambments.’
    • ‘Usually, as I walk, I get ideas for subjects, be they prose poems or poems with some pattern for enjambment.’
    • ‘One of his methods of conveying this celerity is an increasing use of enjambment, and his admission that he translated the cantos roughly in order allows readers to witness the growing importance of capturing these quick rhythms.’
    • ‘You know, it's seductive-having written a number of poems now in which the elasticity of the sentence is paramount, as opposed to the usual blend of enjambments and end-stops.’
    • ‘Thomson employs enjambment so that his poetry flows as does the river, the entire seventeen-line passage being contained within only three sentences.’
    • ‘Consisting of a scant 17 lines, only 3 of which contain more than 3 words, the poem displays her penchant for brevity and enjambment.’
    • ‘The lyrics seem to have been written first and then forcibly inserted into songs, resulting in some heavy enjambment.’
    • ‘We focussed on the form, on how closely they'd followed the rules of syllable and rhyme, enjambment and stress, and only secondarily on how it worked as a poem.’
    • ‘Chief among these was enjambment, in all its kinds and degrees: phrases and clauses splay, leap or crawl across line and stanza breaks, in deliberate violation of natural pauses and syntactic boundaries.’
    • ‘They were also asked, gradually, over weeks, to increase the use of enjambment, parataxis, and disassociation, using the same base material.’
    • ‘One obvious example of this is the difference between end-stopped lines and lines that exhibit weaker and stronger kinds of enjambment.’
    • ‘She or he needs an instinctive sense of where lines should end, how end-stopped they might be, and which ones call for enjambment, their sense flowing lyrically over the tiny pause and into a line that follows.’
    • ‘Again, as in other pieces, the autumn poem uses quietude, fine enjambment and spacing, to convey the weight of the branches, the dying process.’
    • ‘Dramatic use of enjambment brings the movement of the line to a sudden halt.’
    • ‘The enjambment of lines 12 to 13, successful in its matching the sense, introduces a further rhythmic variation due to the unusual length of the vowel in ‘over-poise’.’
    • ‘Get up, it's night, says this fragment, which then goes on by enjambment to its iambic continuation, ‘There'll be time enough to sleep.’’
    • ‘His lines are percussive, martial, thorough in their report; his enjambments work like arguments against the will of the sentences.’
    • ‘The enjambment of ‘un/earthly’ comes across not so much as violent or macabre (as the word unearthly might suggest) but again as hesitation.’


Mid 19th century: French, from enjamber ‘stride over, go beyond’, from en- ‘in’ + jambe ‘leg’.