Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English dactil, from Latin dactylus, from Greek daktulos, finger, toe, dactyl (the three syllables of a dactyl being likened to the three phalanges of a finger ).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek δάκτυλος (daktulos, "a finger"), three bones of the finger corresponding to three syllables.

Examples

  • Because of the lever action, the striking limb called a dactyl moves much faster than the releasing chitin and attains the tremendous acceleration.

    BOOK VIEW CAFE BLOG » Aliens Among Us

  • Some prefer the _Iambic_ (macron-breve) (short - long) as approaching the nearest to common language; for which reason, they say, it is generally made use of in fables and comedies, on account of it's resemblance to conversation; and because the dactyl, which is the favourite number of hexameters, is more adapted to a pompous style.

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

  • Other researchers have studied a variety of ways for climbing robots to stick to walls, including dry adhesives, microspines, so-called "dactyl" spines or large claws like ROCR's, suction cups, magnets, and even a mix of dry adhesive and claws to mimic wall-climbing geckos.

    PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news stories

  • Other researchers have studied a variety of ways for climbing robots to stick to walls, including dry adhesives, microspines, so-called "dactyl" spines or large claws like ROCR's, suction cups, magnets, and even a mix of dry adhesive and claws to mimic wall-climbing geckos.

    PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news stories

  • Other researchers have studied a variety of ways for climbing robots to stick to walls, including dry adhesives, microspines, so-called "dactyl" spines or large claws like ROCR's, suction cups, magnets, and even a mix of dry adhesive and claws to mimic wall-climbing geckos.

    Space Business and Industry News at SpaceMart.com

  • Other researchers have studied a variety of ways for climbing robots to stick to walls, including dry adhesives, microspines, so-called "dactyl" spines or large claws like ROCRs, suction cups, magnets, and even a mix of dry adhesive and claws to mimic wall-climbing geckos.

    Reliable Plant Home Page

  • (which should be easy enough to pronounce) and "dactyl".

    digg.com: Stories / Popular

  • Of course the 'trochee trochee dactyl trochee trochee pattern is only the vaguest approximation of quantitative metrics, but it nonetheless imposes (lyrical or playful) exigencies on the language of the poem that lead, in the best of cases, to discovery, directions to the poem unexpected even to the poet.

    Anis Shivani: Poetry As a Bridge Across Cultures: Anis Shivani Interviews Marilyn Hacker

  • Of course the 'trochee trochee dactyl trochee trochee pattern is only the vaguest approximation of quantitative metrics, but it nonetheless imposes (lyrical or playful) exigencies on the language of the poem that lead, in the best of cases, to discovery, directions to the poem unexpected even to the poet.

    Anis Shivani: Poetry As a Bridge Across Cultures: Anis Shivani Interviews Marilyn Hacker

  • Of course the 'trochee trochee dactyl trochee trochee pattern is only the vaguest approximation of quantitative metrics, but it nonetheless imposes (lyrical or playful) exigencies on the language of the poem that lead, in the best of cases, to discovery, directions to the poem unexpected even to the poet.

    Anis Shivani: Poetry As a Bridge Across Cultures: Anis Shivani Interviews Marilyn Hacker

Comments

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  • "...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

  • (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

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

    March 28, 2012