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

Graveyard Poets

Group of 18th century poets who specialised in poetry on the subject of human mortality - often set in graveyards. The group included Thomas Parnell, Edward Young, Robert Blair and most notably Thomas Gray.


Poor quality poetry. The Scottish poet William McGonagall is famous for his doggerel and enjoys the dubious distinction of being regarded as the world's worst poet.

Elizabethan Poets

Group of poets including Shakespeare, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson who were writing during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603).


A contest of invective between two poets e.g. the Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie.


A word which is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning.


Poundian term to describe the kind of poem which induces 'emotional correlations by the sound and rhythm of the speech'. He stated that the maximum amount of melopoeia is to be found in poems that are written to be sung, chanted or read aloud. See also logopoeia and phanopoeia.

Well Versed

Somebody proficient in the rules of prosody.


See ode.

Sick Verse

Poetry which exhibits an unhealthy preoccupation with subjects such as death or disease e.g. Surgeon at 2 a.m. by Sylvia Plath or Late Flowering Lust by John Betjeman.


Poetic-musical composition, introduced in the Jewish liturgy by king David, who improvised sacred songs accompanied by a harp. Psalm means in fact "chant accompanied by a string instrument".

Heroic Poetry

(or Heroic Verse) See epic.

Shakespearean Sonnet

See sonnet.


A basic structural component of a poem. Lines can be written in free form, in syllabic form (e.g. haiku) or in metrical form. In the official classification, metrical lines can vary in length from the monometer (one foot) to the octameter (eight feet).

Glyconic Verse

A lyric meter invented by the Greek poet Glykon.

Cross Rhyme

Where a word at the end of a line rhymes with a word in the middle of the next/previous line.