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Abecedarian Definition

(Or ABCEDARIUS) Type of acrostic where each line or verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet (a, b, c, d...and so forth) until the end of the alphabet is reached, thus using the whole alphabet. Sometimes known as an alphabet poem.

An Abecedarian poem is a type of acrostic poem that is arranged by alphabetical order, the initial line beginning with the first letter of the alphabet. Each successive line starts with the next letter of the alphabet, ending with the final letter.

This ancient form of poetry was often used for sacred compositions including hymns, prayers and psalms, the earliest examples being found in Hebrew texts. One of the most renowned pieces is Psalm 118 in the Hebrew Bible, consisting of 22 stanzas, each one comprised of eight lines, therefore using all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in turn. The medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the father of English literature, translated a French prayer using the abecedarian method to create "An ABC (The Prayer of our Lady)". Contemporary examples include mnemonic devices, written for children and often using musical arrangements or songs, by authors including Dr. Seuss, Gertrude Stein, and Edward Gorey. 

Abecedarian Poem Example

AN Geoffrey Chaucer

Other Abecedarian Definition

[n] a novice learning the rudiments of some subject
[adj] alphabetically arranged (as for beginning readers)

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See Also...

beginner, initiate, novice, tiro, tyro

Misc. Definitions

\A`be*ce*da"ri*an\, n. [L. abecedarius. A word from the first four letters of the alphabet.]
1. One who is learning the alphabet; hence, a tyro.
2. One engaged in teaching the alphabet. --Wood.
\A`be*ce*da"ri*an\, Abecedary \A`be*ce"da*ry\, a. Pertaining to, or formed by, the letters of the alphabet; alphabetic; hence, rudimentary. {Abecedarian psalms}, {hymns}, etc., compositions in which (like the 119th psalm in Hebrew) distinct portions or verses commence with successive letters of the alphabet. --Hook.

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