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Poetry Terms | Terminology

Poetry terms and terminology. A dictionary of poetry terms and examples that are excellent for teachiing and learning various aspects of poetry. This comprehensive glossary of English poetry terminology or literary terms is a valuable resource for all poets and educators.

PoetrySoup makes a distinction between poetry terms and poetry forms. Forms of poetry adhere to a certain pattern, scheme, or meter, etc. However, our poetry terms are words or terminology that are closely associated with poetry while not a form of poetry. We have seperated poetry forms from these definitions.

See also: Forms of Poetry

Poetry Terminology by Letter

Some Random Poetry Terms


The making of poetry. It derives from the Greek word 'to make' and eventually became the English word  'poetry' via 'poesie' and 'poesy'.

Oblique Rhyme

Alternative term for near rhyme.

Romanticism /Romantic Poets

Term used to describe the work of poets such as: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Burns, Southey, Scott, Keats, Shelley and Byron.

Rising Meter

Term used to describe end-stressed meters such as iambic and anapestic - as opposed to falling meter.

Catalogue Verse

Verse which lists people, places, things or ideas e.g. Contemporary Poets of the English Language by Anthony Thwaite.

Skeltonic Verse/ Skeltonics

Verse written in the style of John Skelton (?1460-1529). Skeltonic verse features short, irregular lines with multiple rhymes, written in a tumbling, helter-skelter style e.g. the following lines form How the Doughty Duke of Albany

Choriambic Meter

Classical meter consisting of four syllables per foot: one long, two short and one long. Choriambic meter has its origins in Greek poetry and is very rarely used in English.


An aubade is a type of morning love lyric poems about lovers separating at dawn. Aubades do not have a predefined form.


A poem presenting a controversial discussion e.g. Milton's Areopagitica (1664).

Spasmodic School Poets

Term devised by William Aytoun to describe a group of Victorian poets including: P. J. Bailey, J.W. Marston, S.T. Dobell and Alexander Smith whose work was characterised by violent and obscure imagery.


Onomatopoeic word (derived from the noise made by poultry) for incomprehensible or jargon-laden writing/language.


From the Greek meaning to 'make' a 'person' - hence the personification of inanimate objects or abstractions. See also personification.

New Criticism

Group of (largely) American critics including: T.S.Eliot, I.A. Richards, William Empson, Yvor Winters, Allen Tate, Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren who advocated a 'close reading' of texts.


Chinese term for different types of poetry/poems. See also jintishi, gushi and xinshi.

Chaucerian Stanza

See rhyme royal.