(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.

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

Historical Examples of catalectic

  • In like manner the catalectic iambic tetrameter is broken up by inserted rhyme into two short verses, viz.

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

    English Verse

    Raymond MacDonald Alden, Ph.D.

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