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


A stanza comprising of three lines e.g. The Old Familiar Faces by Charles Lamb.

Grub Street

Originally a street near Moorfields in London inhabited by minor writers and poets. The term is now synonymous with literary hackwork.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

A group of poets and artists including D.G. Rossetti, Walter Pater and William Morris. Their work is characterised by the use of medieval settings and subject matter and was a reaction against the ugliness of Victorian life. They were particularly inspired by La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats.


The coining or use of new words e.g. in Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Spondaic (spondee)

A two syllable foot that is comprised of two accented syllables-usually this is done in poetry by using one syllable words (like cat, dog) in a row

Gnomic poets

A class of writers of this form in Greek literature. [Gr. gnome, an opinion—gnonai, gignoskein, to know.]


Greek measure consisting of two metrical feet, which are taken as a single unit.

Proceleus Maticus

Classical foot consisting of four short or unstressed syllables. Also known as proceleusmatic.

Middle English

The written and spoken language of England from the beginning of the 12th Century to approx. 1500. The most important writer of the period being Chaucer.


Type of satirical verse which deals with trivial matters in the style of epic or heroic verse. The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope is an example of mock-heroic verse. Pope's poem was inspired by Lord Petre's cutting of a lock of Miss Arabella Fermor's hair without her permission.

Poetic Justice

The justice meted out by poets (in an ideal world) - where virtue is rewarded and vice punished.

Love Poetry

Poetry which deals with the agony and ecstasy of love e.g. Shakespeare's Sonnets. See also erotic poetry.


Smaller version of the rondel. The rondelet is a seven line poem with a refrain in the first, third and seventh line and a rhyme scheme: A-b-A-a-b-b-A.


One of the three modes of persuasion in rhetoric (along with ethos and logos). Pathos is appeal based on emotion.


Poem of lamentation. See elegy.