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More Metrical Feet

Reference > Literature > Poetry > The Bard

You've already learned about iambs and anapests, and those are two of the more common metrical feet, but there are others. Now that you have the hang of how metrical feet work, I won't spend a lot of time on any one of them; I'll just give a quick explanation and example.


A dactyl is a metrical foot which, like the anapest, contains one stressed and two unstressed syllables. The difference between the two is that, where anapestic starts with the two unstressed, dactylfinishes with unstressed.

Here are a couple examples of dactylic lines:

  • President Washington - PRES i dent WASH ing ton
  • Mediterranean - MED i ter RAN e an
  • beautiful poetry - BEAU ti ful PO et ry



Just like a dactyl is sort of the "opposite" of an anapest, a trochee is the opposite of an iamb. A trochee has an accented syllable followed by an unaccented syllable.

  • Douglas Twitchell - DOUG las TWITCH ell
  • One fish, two fish - ONE fish, TWO fish



I love the word "amphibrach," and my son's full name is 100% amphibrachic. What's an amphibrach? Well, it's like an anapest, except it's the middle syllable that gets stressed.

  • Tobias - to BI as
  • regardless - re GARD less

For those who love strange and peculiar bits of trivia - here's one that I find fascinating: The word "trochaic" is amphibrachic, while the word "amphibrachic" is trochaic!


Spondees are a bit unusual in that people don't make poetry out of spondees - they just add a bit of rhythmic bump now and again. Spondees are pairs of stressed syllables back to back. Imagine writing a poem in which all the syllables were stressed - it would be like shouting the poem! Few words are spondaic, and the ones that are spondees are mostly compound words like football, bathrobe, mayday, and so on.


Explain the difference between an amphibrach and an anapest.
Explain the difference between an iamb and a trochee.
Why don't people write poetry that is entirely spondaic?
Write a phrase that is entirely dactylic.
Write a phrase that is entirely trochaic.
Write a phrase that is entirely amphibrachic.
Write a phrase that is made up of two dactyls, followed by a trochee.
Assign this reference page
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The AnapestThe Anapest
Iambic Pentameter, Anapestic TetrameterIambic Pentameter, Anapestic Tetrameter

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