Definition of pentameter in English:



  • A line of verse consisting of five metrical feet, or (in Greek and Latin verse) of two halves each of two feet and a long syllable.

    • ‘Sidestepping the spoken word label, she even pens three sonnets, written in loose pentameter lines.’
    • ‘As well as one already-known pentameter, nine lines of these verses have been recovered from a papyrus, perhaps dating from the 20s BC, found in 1978 in a fortress in Egyptian Nubia.’
    • ‘Although the English meter is properly iambic, often with feminine endings, line length is erratic, ranging from trimeter to pentameter, except for the two shortest lines, which appear in dimeter.’
    • ‘The poem, in pentameter couplets, describes the funeral ceremonies for Queen Mary the preceding month.’
    • ‘You can hear it pushing against the constraints of the pentameter and the irregular end rhyme.’
    • ‘The opening line is humorous, touching,and declamatory at one and the same time, its pentameter rhythm sedate and arresting.’
    • ‘He allows his lines freedom to expand and shrink from their pentameter norm to accommodate his shifts of style and tone.’
    • ‘Did you know I spent ten years writing poetry, refining and refining that little crossword puzzle of an art they call the sonnet until it was an effort not to answer the phone in pentameter?’
    • ‘Here is work that manages to be entirely of-the-moment while at every turn it announces not merely an awareness, but an actual confidence with such prosodic traditions as the heroic couplet and the pentameter line.’
    • ‘Who else would contrive a poem of 10, 10-line stanzas, each line a brutally regular pentameter, about his father's abandoning the family home 10 days after cutting up a pig into 10 joints?’
    • ‘If you listen to the line carefully, it's a line of regular trochaic pentameter.’
    • ‘Single couplets of course form a significant category, as do longer poems composed of rhyming pentameter couplets.’
    • ‘Its graceful pentameter couplets express the mid-century fascination with theatrical performance.’
    • ‘Trimeter lines predominate, very short dimeter lines punctuate, and against both rise up the comparatively unexpected yet satisfying lengths of the two thoughtful pentameter and hexameter lines.’
    • ‘When he hasn't been saving the world or singing songs with basic rhyming pentameters, he has been involved in a bitter court case with an old stylist who apparently stole clothes from him.’
    • ‘By the time he suggests that the verse inclines towards the pentameter, it is clear that it has not occurred to him that the phrasings are of formal significance.’
    • ‘Shakespeare's poems are almost entirely written in full pentameter lines.’
    • ‘He reads and studies the pentameter of the ancient myths - his favorite are the Welsh myths, and he lists them all and describes them.’
    • ‘She enclosed a poem of her own composition on the same theme in irregularly rhyming pentameters.’


Early 16th century: via Latin from Greek pentametros (see penta-, -meter).