|◡ ◡||pyrrhic, dibrach|
|– ◡||trochee, choree|
|◡ ◡ ◡||tribrach|
|– ◡ ◡||dactyl|
|◡ – ◡||amphibrach|
|◡ ◡ –||anapaest, antidactylus|
|◡ – –||bacchius|
|– – ◡||antibacchius|
|– ◡ –||cretic, amphimacer|
|– – –||molossus|
|See main article for tetrasyllables.|
In English poetic metre and modern linguistics, a trochee (//) is a metrical foot consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. But in Latin and Ancient Greek poetic metre, a trochee is a heavy syllable followed by a light one in Latin or Greek (also described as a long syllable followed by a short one). In this respect, a trochee is the reverse of an iamb. Thus the Latin word íbī "there", because of its short-long rhythm, in Latin metrical studies is considered to be an iamb, but since it is stressed on the first syllable, in modern linguistics it is considered to be a trochee.
Another name formerly used for a trochee was a choree (//), or choreus.
Trochee comes from French trochée, adapted from Latin trochaeus, originally from the Greek τροχός (trokhós), 'wheel', from the phrase τροχαῖος πούς (trokhaîos poús), literally 'running foot'; it is connected with the word τρέχω trékhō, 'I run'. The less-often used word choree comes from χορός, khorós, 'dance'; both convey the "rolling" rhythm of this metrical foot. The phrase was adapted into English in the late 16th century.
There was a well-established ancient tradition that trochaic rhythm is faster than iambic. When used in drama it is often associated with lively situations. One ancient commentator notes that it was named from the metaphor of people running (ἐκ μεταφορᾶς τῶν τρεχόντων) and the Roman metrician Marius Victorinus notes that it was named from its running and speed (dictus a cursu et celeritate).
Trochaic meter is sometimes seen among the works of William Shakespeare:
- Double, double, toil and trouble;
- Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Perhaps owing to its simplicity, though, trochaic meter is fairly common in nursery rhymes:
- Peter, Peter pumpkin-eater
- Had a wife and couldn't keep her.
Trochaic verse is also well known in Latin poetry, especially of the medieval period. Since the stress never falls on the final syllable in Medieval Latin, the language is ideal for trochaic verse. The dies irae of the Requiem mass is an example:
- Dies irae, dies illa
- Solvet saeclum in favilla
- Teste David cum Sibylla.
The Taylor Swift song "Blank Space" contains examples of trochaic metre in its chorus, which is responsible for many listeners mishearing part of the lyric because the line "Got a long list of ex-lovers" is forced into an unnatural shape to fit the stress pattern:
- Got a long list of ex-lovers
Where the stress would, in spoken English, naturally fall on the 'ex' of 'ex-lovers', it instead falls on 'of' and the first syllable of 'lovers', which can confuse on first hearing and cause the mind to try to fit an alternative two-syllable word (like "Starbucks") into the 'of ex-' foot: supposedly, the line is misheard as "All the lonely Starbucks lovers".
In Greek and Latin, the syllabic structure deals with long and short syllables, rather than accented and unaccented. Trochaic meter was rarely used by the Latin poets, except in certain passages of the tragedies and the comedies.
- Prosody (Latin)
- Substitution (poetry), Trochaic substitution
- Prosody (Greek)
- Trochaic septenarius
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 293. .
- Etymology of the Latin word trochee, MyEtymology (retrieved 23 July 2015)
- Trochee, Etymology Online (retrieved 23 July 2015)
- A.M. Devine, Laurence Stephens, The Prosody of Greek Speech, p. 116.
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. London: Abbey Library/Cresta House, 1977.
- Josef Brukner, Jiří Filip, Poetický slovník, Mladá fronta, Praha 1997, p. 339-340 (in Czech).
- Wiktor J. Darasz, Trochej, Język Polski, 1-2/2001, p. 51 (in Polish).
- Dahl, Melissa. "Why You Keep Mishearing That Taylor Swift Lyric". New York Magazine. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
- Gustavus Fischer, "Prosody", Etymology and an introduction to syntax (Latin Grammar, Volume 1), J. W. Schermerhorn (1876) p. 395.