Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A metrical foot composed of two short syllables followed by one long one, as in the word seventeen.
  • n. A line of verse using this meter; for example, "'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house” ( Clement Clarke Moore).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A metrical foot consisting of three syllables, two short and one long (e.g the word "velveteen").
  • n. A fragment, phrase or line of poetry or verse using this meter; e.g. “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did NOT!” (Dr Seuss aka Theodor Geisel).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A metrical foot consisting of three syllables, the first two short, or unaccented, the last long, or accented (˘ ˘ -); the reverse of the dactyl. In Latin dĕ-ĭ-tās, and in English in-ter-vene", are examples of anapests.
  • n. A verse composed of such feet.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In prosody, a foot consisting of three syllables, the first two short or unaccented, the last long or accented: the reverse of the dactyl.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a metrical unit with unstressed-unstressed-stressed syllables

Etymologies

Latin anapaestus, from Greek anapaistos : ana-, ana- + paiein, pais-, to strike (so called because an anapest is a reversed dactyl).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin anapaestus, from Ancient Greek ἀνάπαιστος (anapaistos, "struck back”, “reversed"), from ἀνά (ana, "back") + παίω (paiō, "I strike"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • That verse wherein the accent falls on every third syllable, may be called trisyllabic verse; it is equivalent to what has been called anapestic; and we will still use the term anapest to express two unaccented and one accented syllable.

    Miscellany

  • The emphasis of the rhyme, coming as it does after the rushing anapest, is to settle the word ‘knew’ much deeper in the voice than the word ‘yew.’

    The Poet Thomas Hardy « Unknowing

  • The first two iambs are followed by something almost like a qualitative anapest (in English we do meter based on stress, and here the stress falls on the first syllable of grandeur; in Greek and Latin the stress is based on quality = the length of the syllable, and you can see how much longer than ‘with’ and ‘the’ is the ‘grand’ of grandeur).

    God’s Grandeur « Unknowing

  • A limerick traditionally uses anapest meter -- that is, with metrical feet consisting of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable, and with three feet each for lines 1, 2, and 5, and two feet each for lines 3 and 4.

    Florida Keys Swordfish Limerick Contest

  • With a polished iamb, trochee, dactyl, amphibrach and anapest.

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • The chapter then proceeds to consider the four most common metrical patterns: in relative order of importance, the iambic, the anapest, the trochee and the dactyl.

    THE PROSODY HANDBOOK: A GUIDE TO POETIC FORM by ROBERT BEUM & KARL SHAPIRO

  • If she was going to be honest, she had loved the way Seth knew what an anapest was, and a canzone.

    The Tenth Circle

  • For the next seven years, despite repeated strokes, my grandfather worked at a small desk, piecing together the legendary fragments into a larger mosaic, adding a stanza here, a coda there, soldering an anapest or an iamb.

    Middlesex

  • Isocrates about thirty verses, most of them senarian, and some of them anapest, which in prose have a more disagreeable effect than any others.

    Cicero's Brutus or History of Famous Orators; also His Orator, or Accomplished Speaker.

  • But he quotes them with a malicious partiality: for he cuts off the first syllable of the first word in a sentence, and annexes to the last word the first syllable of the following sentence; and thus he forms what is called an _Aristophanean_ anapest, which it is neither possible nor necessary to avoid entirely.

    Cicero's Brutus or History of Famous Orators; also His Orator, or Accomplished Speaker.

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  • listed in xkcd's 1383th comic.
    I had to look this one up.

    June 18, 2014

  • US Railway Association, Standard Cipher Code, 1906: Railway telegraphers' shorthand meaning "Has not been allowed (to)".

    January 19, 2013