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

  • n. A metrical foot consisting of one accented syllable followed by two unaccented or of one long syllable followed by two short, as in flattery.
  • n. A finger, toe, or similar part or structure; a digit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A poetical foot of three syllables (— ~ ~), one long followed by two short, or one accented followed by two unaccented.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A poetical foot of three sylables (--- ˘ ˘), one long followed by two short, or one accented followed by two unaccented
  • n.
  • n. A finger or toe; a digit.
  • n. The claw or terminal joint of a leg of an insect or crustacean.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move nimbly; leap; bound.
  • n. A unit of linear measure; a finger-breadth; a digit: used in reference to Greek, Egyptian, and Babylonian measures.
  • n. In prosody, a foot of three syllables, the first long, the second and third short.
  • n. In anatomy: A digit, whether of the hand or foot; a finger or a toe.
  • n. A toe or digit of the hind foot only, when the word digit is restricted to a finger.
  • n. In zoology, a dactylus.
  • n. The piddock, Pholas dactylus. See dactylus .—
  • n. In Greek antiquity, a mythological creature supposed to have the secrets of fire and of iron-working.

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

  • n. a finger or toe in human beings or corresponding body part in other vertebrates
  • n. a metrical unit with stressed-unstressed-unstressed syllables


Middle English dactil, from Latin dactylus, from Greek daktulos, finger, dactyl.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek δάκτυλος (daktulos, "a finger"), three bones of the finger corresponding to three syllables. (Wiktionary)


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  • I agree with his reasoning, but to me "Crowley" is more trochaic than spondulic.

    March 28, 2012

  • (In)famous mystic Aleister Crowley had allegedly chosen his own name because he was convinced that one consisting of a dactyl (A-lei-ster?) followed by a spondee (crow-ley) was the most favorable for becoming famous. Something to do with having a hypnotic or suggestive quality to it or whatever.

    Not the most bizarre thing coming from him.

    The More You Know

    March 28, 2012

  • "...he was surprised to hear Rowan say 'I may not know what a dactyl is, but I do know that Will you take A piece of cake is poetry, whatever you may say. It rhymes, don't it? And if what rhymes ain't poetry, what is?'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 171

    February 13, 2008