Origin of acrostic
OTHER WORDS FROM acrostica·cros·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Words nearby acrostic
MORE ABOUT ACROSTIC
What is an acrostic?
An acrostic is a series of lines of writing or verses of poetry in which certain letters can be read from a word or phrase.
Here is an example of an acrostic in which the first letter of each word creates another word (dogs):
An acrostic doesn’t have to use the letters of the first words of a line, however. The letters could be from words in the middle or at the end of lines, as well. The letters of the “hidden message” are typically capitalized (food):
There are three types of acrostics. An acrostic that uses the initial letters is called a single acrostic (cat):
An acrostic that uses the first and last letters of a line is called a double acrostic (bird song):
Beautiful chirping sounds
I love the audio
Relaxes my brain
A triple acrostic uses the first letter, last letter, and a middle letter to form words.
The adjective form of acrostic is acrostical, as in The poem was acrostical.
Why is acrostic important?
The first records of acrostic come from around 1580. It comes from the Greek word akrostichís, made from acro– (end or extremity) and stich (a line of poetry). The most common (and easiest) form of acrostic is using the “ends” of lines (first or last letters) to make hidden messages.
An acrostic doesn’t have to be formed from top to bottom, either. Here is an example of this using a double acrostic that forms the same word (bat):
Beats its wings at night
Always prowling the area
Tries to eat its grub
Acrostics are most commonly used in poetry, where it is easy to construct them. Here is an example of an acrostic poem by Edgar Allen Poe (Elizabeth):
Elizabeth it is in vain you say
“Love not”—thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L. E. L.
Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breathe it less gently forth—and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love—was cured of all beside—
His folly—pride—and passion—for he died.
Did you know … ?
Acrostics are a very old literary device. They were used as early as the writing of the Hebrew Bible thousands of years ago. Rather than spell words, these acrostics used every letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order.
What are real-life examples of acrostic?
True or False?
An acrostic uses letters from lines of writing or verse to spell words or phrases.
How to use acrostic in a sentence
I dabble in humor contests, cryptic crosswords, and acrostics.Style Conversational Week 1443: The Ballad of Gary Crockett|Pat Myers|July 1, 2021|Washington Post
You learn about the origins of jigsaw puzzles, acrostics and Archimedes boxes.With playhouses dark, interactive theater online is lighting things up|Peter Marks|October 29, 2020|Washington Post
It would seem to be impossible to doubt her identity after the acrostic of the Amorosa Visione.Giovanni Boccaccio, a Biographical Study|Edward Hutton
Each column is an acrostic of the name Martinvs Luthervs, making 80 scurrilous epithets.The Book of Vagabonds and Beggars|Anonymous
The Acrostic and the Chronogram are both ingeniously described in the mock epic of the Scribleriad.Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 1 (of 3)|Isaac D'Israeli
Neither the acrostic nor the Alexandrine has the property assigned to it here.Essays|Ralph Waldo Emerson
A character is like an acrostic or Alexandrian stanza;—read it forward, backward, or across, it still spells the same thing.Essays, First Series|Ralph Waldo Emerson
British Dictionary definitions for acrostic
- a number of lines of writing, such as a poem, certain letters of which form a word, proverb, etc. A single acrostic is formed by the initial letters of the lines, a double acrostic by the initial and final letters, and a triple acrostic by the initial, middle, and final letters
- the word, proverb, etc, so formed
- (as modifier)an acrostic sonnet