Definitions

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

  • n. A metrical foot consisting of two long or stressed syllables.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A word or metrical foot of two syllables, either both long or both stressed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A poetic foot of two long syllables, as in the Latin word lēgēs.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ancient prosody, a foot consisting of two long times or syllables, one of which constitutes the thesis and the other the arsis: it is accordingly tetrasemic and isorrhythmic. The spondee is principally used as a substitute for a dactyl or an anapest. In the former case it is a dactylic spondee ( for ), in the latter an anapestic spondee ( for ). An irrational spondee represents a trisemic foot, trochee, or iambus ( for , or for ). It is found in the even places of trochaic lines and in the odd places of iambic lines, also in logaœdic verses, especially as representing the initial trochee (“basis”). A foot consisting of two spondees is called a dispondee.

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

  • n. a metrical unit with stressed-stressed syllables

Etymologies

Middle English sponde, from Old French spondee, from Latin spondēum, from neuter of spondēus, of libations, spondaic, from Greek spondeios, from spondē, libation (from its use in songs performed at libations); see spend- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin spondēus ("spondee"), from Ancient Greek σπονδεῖος (spondeios, "associated with a libation") from σπονδή (spondē, "libation")- spondees were often used in melodies sung at libations. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's in a beat called iambic trimeter: da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM, which keeps it light-hearted, but generally when Kunitz uses the word "God" he does so in what's called a spondee, with two strong syllables in succession.

    The Nervous Breakdown

  • Most years from 1300 to 1999 started with more of a spondee.

    On tens, teens, or whatever

  • Horace's Epicuri de grege, but let none add to it the sad spondee which ends the hemistich, "is more unsettling, since it mainly seems devoted to playing, through negation and elaborate periphrasis, with the possibility of referring to its subject as" an

    Economies of Excess in Brillat-Savarin, Balzac, and Baudelaire

  • Iambs, spondee, trochee were liberally abused in rhythms broken and confused;

    You Eat Bovine

  • But after the volta, the same word has changed its intensity entirely, the spondee conveying an unstoppable force that floods over the expected unstressed syllable in irresistible exhortation.

    Annie Finch reads Claude McKay

  • The first two quatrains have a somber tone, a heaviness emphasized by the repeating phrase “if we must die,” with its sonorous spondee.

    Annie Finch reads Claude McKay

  • This is the only instance where Catullus has introduced a spondee into the second foot of the phalaecian, which then becomes decasyllabic.

    Poems and Fragments

  • By contrast the suggested rewrite begins with a spondee, kapow!

    languagehat.com: LOVE—AND THE PHILOSOPHER.

  • 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.

    Essays and Miscellanies

  • ST: I don't think about meter in the sense of "long syllable, short syllable, spondee," but I do think a lot about cadence and rhythm -- not in the sense of plotting out words to fill a particular line, but does it sound right once I've written it?

    Archive 2004-11-01

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