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

  • adj. Lacking one or more syllables, especially in the final foot. Used of verse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Said of a line with incomplete meter, lacking a syllable at the end or ending with an incomplete foot.
  • adj. incomplete; partial; not affecting the whole of a substance

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Wanting a syllable at the end, or terminating in an imperfect foot.
  • adj. Incomplete; partial; not affecting the whole of a substance.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In prosody: Wanting part of the last foot: as, a catalectic line or verse: opposed to acatalectic.
  • n. A catalectic verse.

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

  • adj. (verse) metrically incomplete; especially lacking one or more syllables in the final metrical foot
  • n. (prosody) a line of verse that lacks a syllable in the last metrical foot


Late Latin catalēcticus, from Greek katalēktikos, from katalēgein, to leave off : kata-, intensive pref.; see cata- + lēgein, to cease, terminate; see slēg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin catalecticus, from Ancient Greek καταληκτικός (katalēktikos, "leaving off, incomplete") from κατά (kata, "down, wholly") + ληκτικός (lēktikos, "causing to stop") (Wiktionary)



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  • A catalectic tetrameter of iambs marching.
    Joyce, Ulysses, 3

    December 30, 2006