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[vurs] /vɜrs/
(not in technical use) a stanza.
a succession of metrical feet written, printed, or orally composed as one line; one of the lines of a poem.
a particular type of metrical line:
a hexameter verse.
a poem, or piece of poetry.
metrical composition; poetry, especially as involving metrical form.
metrical writing distinguished from poetry because of its inferior quality:
a writer of verse, not poetry.
a particular type of metrical composition:
elegiac verse.
the collective poetry of an author, period, nation, etc.:
Miltonian verse; American verse.
one of the short conventional divisions of a chapter of the Bible.
  1. that part of a song following the introduction and preceding the chorus.
  2. a part of a song designed to be sung by a solo voice.
Rare. a line of prose, especially a sentence, or part of a sentence, written as one line.
Rare. a subdivision in any literary work.
of, relating to, or written in verse:
a verse play.
verb (used without object), versed, versing.
verb (used with object), versed, versing.
to express in verse.
Origin of verse
before 900; Middle English vers(e), fers line of poetry, section of a psalm, Old English fers < Latin versus a row, line (of poetry), literally, a turning, equivalent to vert(ere) to turn (past participle versus) + -tus suffix of v. action, with dt > s; akin to -ward, worth2
Related forms
underverse, noun
Can be confused
verses, versus.
1. Verse, stanza, strophe, stave are terms for a metrical grouping in poetic composition. Verse is often mistakenly used for stanza, but is properly only a single metrical line. A stanza is a succession of lines (verses) commonly bound together by a rhyme scheme, and usually forming one of a series of similar groups that constitute a poem: The four-line stanza is the one most frequently used in English. Strophe (originally the section of a Greek choral ode sung while the chorus was moving from right to left) is in English poetry practically equivalent to “section”; a strophe may be unrhymed or without strict form, but may be a stanza: Strophes are divisions of odes. Stave is a word (now seldom used) that means a stanza set to music or intended to be sung: a stave of a hymn; a stave of a drinking song. 4–6. See poetry. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for verse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had completed the verse with the hint of a sneer in her tones.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • It was an express order for two hundred francs, in payment of a bit of verse.

    Ballads of a Bohemian Robert W. Service
  • And then Rico sang the verse and was pleased and said, "Sing some more."

    Rico and Wiseli Johanna Spyri
  • Then Rico fiddled and sung the verse with her, and said again, "Some more."

    Rico and Wiseli Johanna Spyri
  • Give me some more of the syrup, and then come and repeat the verse that I taught you the other day.

    Rico and Wiseli Johanna Spyri
British Dictionary definitions for verse


(not in technical usage) a stanza or other short subdivision of a poem
poetry as distinct from prose
  1. a series of metrical feet forming a rhythmic unit of one line
  2. (as modifier): verse line
a specified type of metre or metrical structure: iambic verse
one of the series of short subsections into which most of the writings in the Bible are divided
a metrical composition; poem
a rare word for versify
Word Origin
Old English vers, from Latin versus a furrow, literally: a turning (of the plough), from vertere to turn
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 verse

c.1050, "line or section of a psalm or canticle," later "line of poetry" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French and Old French vers, from Latin versus "verse, line of writing," from PIE root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). The metaphor is of plowing, of "turning" from one line to another (vertere = "to turn") as a plowman does.

Verse was invented as an aid to memory. Later it was preserved to increase pleasure by the spectacle of difficulty overcome. That it should still survive in dramatic art is a vestige of barbarism. [Stendhal "de l'Amour," 1822]
Old English had fers, an early West Germanic borrowing directly from Latin. Meaning "metrical composition" is recorded from c.1300; sense of "part of a modern pop song" (as distinguished from the chorus) is attested from 1927. The English New Testament first was divided fully into verses in the Geneva version (1550s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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verse in Culture

verse definition

A kind of language made intentionally different from ordinary speech or prose. It usually employs devices such as meter and rhyme, though not always. Free verse, for example, has neither meter nor rhyme. Verse is usually considered a broader category than poetry, with the latter being reserved to mean verse that is serious and genuinely artistic.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for verse


Related Terms

chapter and verse

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with verse


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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