American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A line of verse consisting of six metrical feet.
- n. In classical prosody, a line in which the first four feet are either dactylic or spondaic, the fifth dactylic, and the sixth spondaic.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- In prosody, containing or consisting of six measures; having a length of six feet or six dipodies; especially, composed of six feet, of which the first four are dactyls or spondees, the fifth ordinarily a dactyl, sometimes a spondee, and the last a spondee or trochee: as, a hexameter line, verse, or period.
- n. In prosody, a period, line, or verse consisting of six measures. In books on modern versification, the “measure” and “foot” being ordinarily assumed to be identical, the word hexameter is used as precisely equivalent to hexapody; but according to the nomenclature of classical metrics, a hexameter is a group of six feet only in those classes of feet which are measured by single feet (monopodies). Since iambi, trochees, and anapests are measured by dipodies, an iambic, trochaic, or anapestic hexameter would be a group of twelve feet, a group of six such feet being a trimeter. The name hexameter is given by preëminence to the dactylic hexameter, also called the heroic or epic hexameter, or heroic or epic verse, from its use in Greek and Roman epic poetry from the earliest to the latest period. It is a compound verse consisting of two cola or members, either both of three feet or one of two feet and one of four feet. The heroic hexameter never consists of six dactyls, the last foot being always a spondee
, or, as the last syllable of a period may always be either long or short, a trochee as a substitute for a spondee. Some authorities have regarded this meter as catalectic, so that the last foot would be a trochee by omission of the last syllable of the dactyl, or a spondee for the trochee. The fifth foot is rarely a spondee, but a spondee can always be used instead of a dactyl in any of the first four places. The ordinary form of the hexameter is accordingly . A verse with a spondee as fifth foot is said to be spondaic, one consisting entirely of spondees holospondaic, and one entirely (except the last foot) of dactyls holodactylic. The principal cesuras are the trochaic of the third foot, the penthemimeral, and the hephthemimeral; besides which the bucolic cesura or dieresis and the trithemimeral cesura are to be noted. See cesura.
- n. countable a line in a poem having six metrical feet
- n. uncountable a poetic metre in which each line has six feet
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Gr. & Lat. Pros.) A verse of six feet, the first four of which may be either dactyls or spondees, the fifth must regularly be a dactyl, and the sixth always a spondee. In this species of verse are composed the Iliad of Homer and the Æneid of Virgil. In English hexameters accent takes the place of quantity.
- adj. Having six metrical feet, especially dactyls and spondees.
- n. a verse line having six metrical feet
- From Ancient Greek ἑξάμετρος. (Wiktionary)
- Latin, from Greek hexametros, having six metrical feet : hexa-, hexa- + metron, meter; see meter1. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“I had toyed with writing a response in hexameter verse, but that would have been pushing it, no?”
“As European students learnt Latin, they learnt how to translate Virgil and Homer, how to write imitation verses and how to write in hexameter and with rhyme.”
“I have, accordingly, ventured to elicit the end of a hexameter from the Greek letters of the MS., of which no satisfactory account has been given, and to read _Itaque dixit statim "respublica lege maiestatis_ οὐ σοί κεν ἄρ 'ἶσα μ' ἀφείη (or ἀφιῇ).”
“He followed her to Switzerland one summer, and all the time that he was dangling after her (a little too conspicuously, I always thought, for a Great Man), he was writing to me about his theory of vowel-combinations -- or was it his experi - ments in English hexameter?”
“Well might Egbert be proud of his librarian: the first, I believe upon record, who has composed a catalogue  of books in Latin hexameter verse: and full reluctantly, I ween, did this librarian take leave of his _Cell_ stored with the choicest volumes -- as we may judge from his pathetic address to it, on quitting England for France!”
“The poems of Homer have the most perfect metre, the hexameter, which is also called heroic.”
“It is called hexameter because each line has six feet: one of these is of two long syllables, called spondee; the other, of three syllables, one long and two short, which is called dactyl.”
“In vi. 65 he apologizes for using the pure hexameter, which is found only four times.”
“This Latin hexameter, which is commonly ascribed to Horace, appeared for the first time as an epigraph to President Hénaults Abrégé Chronologique, and in the preface to the third edition of this work Hénault acknowledges that he had given it as a translation of this couplet.”
“This metre, which from its popularity must be termed the hexameter of the Irish, is named Deibhidhe (D'yevvee), and well shows in the last two lines the internal rhyme to which we refer.”
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