Definition of iambic in English:



  • Of or using iambs.

    ‘iambic pentameters’
    • ‘Both poems tend strongly toward an iambic rhythm.’
    • ‘I have also used iambic tetrameter, a rhyme scheme that appears frequently in songs and uses four iambic feet.’
    • ‘In this year he sits down to compose 23 farewell letters to his friends, each set into conversational iambic hexameter.’
    • ‘He kept the iambic blank verse form but relieved it entirely of its poetic burden.’
    • ‘The second section of the poem, the last four lines, alternate between iambic tetrameter and pentameter.’
    • ‘If you want to run all your editorials in purple or run the type sideways, or give voice to all your opinions in iambic hexameter, knock yourself out.’
    • ‘The Cautionary Tales are in iambic octosyllabic couplets and can run to fifty lines or so.’
    • ‘That particular line-length is easy to swallow, while its iambic rocking gives a steady rhythmical pleasure to listeners.’
    • ‘Iambic verse he thought potentially monotonous.’
    • ‘An Admonition of Warning to England comprises twenty-four rhyming couplets in alternating lines of iambic hexameter and heptameter.’
    • ‘Here is how Arthur Golding rendered the scene, in iambic heptameter couplets, about the time Shakespeare was born.’
    • ‘In poetic terms I used to step out a good iambic metre, lively and heroic.’
    • ‘The central theme of iambic poetry was traditionally invective, that is personal attack, mockery, and satire.’
    • ‘Even students with a strong background in form tend to be familiar only with iambic meter.’
    • ‘This probably refers to the anapaestic and iambic chants which accompanied armed dances and processions at certain Spartan festivals.’


  • 1Iambic verse as a genre.

    • ‘While still at school he translated Euripides Medea from Greek into Latin iambics.’
    • ‘A drunk, a brawler, a pathetic lover, Hipponax invented the ‘limping iambic, also known as the scazon.’’
    • ‘It can't just be a line of iambic, or a nineteen-line villanelle.’
    1. 1.1Iambic verse.
      • ‘She will slip from dactyls to iambics, pentameter to trimeter, quatrains to sestets.’
      • ‘There is often a meandering discursivity in the rhythm and content of Prynne's fractured iambics.’
      • ‘Halfway through part 2, the three-line stanzas with their fairly regular iambics are interrupted, and quite literally torn apart.’
      • ‘I'd have to stay up all night long showing him how to use the iambics.’
      • ‘‘The Beautiful Changes’ consists of three six-line stanzas in loose iambics with an anapestic lilt.’


Mid 16th century: from French iambique, via late Latin from Greek iambikos, from iambos (see iambus).