(of a line of verse) lacking part of the last foot; metrically incomplete, as the second line of One more unfortunate,/Weary of breath.


a catalectic line of verse.

Nearby words

  1. catagen,
  2. catagenesis,
  3. catagenetic,
  4. catalan,
  5. catalase,
  6. catalepsy,
  7. cataleptic,
  8. catalexis,
  9. catalin,
  10. catalina island

Origin of catalectic

1580–90; < Late Latin catalēcticus < Greek katalēktikós incomplete, equivalent to katalēk-, variant stem of katalḗgein to leave off (kata- cata- + lḗgein to end) + -tikos -tic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for catalectic

  • Here the alternate lines are catalectic, both light syllables being wanting.

    English Verse|Raymond MacDonald Alden, Ph.D.
  • In like manner the catalectic iambic tetrameter is broken up by inserted rhyme into two short verses, viz.

British Dictionary definitions for catalectic



prosody (of a line of verse) having an incomplete final foot

Word Origin for catalectic

C16: via Late Latin from Greek katalēktikos incomplete, from katalēgein, from kata- off + lēgein to stop

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

Word Origin and History for catalectic



1580s, "wanting a syllable in the last foot," from Late Latin catalecticus, from Greek katalektikos "leaving off," from kata- "down" (see cata-) + legein "to leave off, cease from," from PIE *(s)leg- "to be slack, be languid" (see lax).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper