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[hem-i-stik] /ˈhɛm ɪˌstɪk/
noun, Prosody.
the exact or approximate half of a stich, or poetic verse or line, especially as divided by a caesura or the like.
an incomplete line, or a line of less than the usual length.
Origin of hemistich
1565-75; < Late Latin hēmistichium < Greek hēmistíchion a half-verse. See hemi-, stich1
Related forms
[huh-mis-ti-kuh l, hem-i-stik-uh l] /həˈmɪs tɪ kəl, ˈhɛm ɪˌstɪk əl/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hemistich
Historical Examples
  • The structure of the hemistich in the normal alliterative line.

  • Defective metre and sense, owing to the loss of a hemistich, but the sense is complete.

    Genesis A Anonymous
  • We may deeply admire and wonder, and, in another line or hemistich, grow indifferent or slightly averse.

    Hearts of Controversy Alice Meynell
  • I have composed the first hemistich of a verse, but cannot finish it, although it has occupied my mind for some days.'

    A Boswell of Baghdad E. V. Lucas
  • The simple five types of the hemistich admit of variation: i. by extension (as above); ii.

  • Every hemistich consists of two feet or measures, each containing an accented syllable.

  • The sub-type A3 is type A with alliteration on the second arsis only and is limited almost entirely to the first hemistich.

  • Type B, according to Sievers, occurs 1014 times in Beowulf, of which 293 are in the first hemistich and 721 in the second.

  • In the employment of alliteration and in the structure of the hemistich the lengthened line is closely allied to the normal line.

  • According to their position in the hemistich, rhymes fall into two classes (a) interior rhymes like hnd rnd gefeng Beow.

British Dictionary definitions for hemistich


(prosody) a half line of verse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hemistich

"half a poetic line," 1570s, from Middle French hémistiche, from Latin hemistichium, from Greek hemistikhion "half-line, half-verse," from hemi- "half" (see hemi-) + stikhos "row, line of verse" (see stair).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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