• synonyms


noun Prosody.
  1. the exact or approximate half of a stich, or poetic verse or line, especially as divided by a caesura or the like.
  2. an incomplete line, or a line of less than the usual length.
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Origin of hemistich

1565–75; < Late Latin hēmistichium < Greek hēmistíchion a half-verse. See hemi-, stich1
Related formshe·mis·ti·chal [huh-mis-ti-kuh l, hem-i-stik-uh l] /həˈmɪs tɪ kəl, ˈhɛm ɪˌstɪk əl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hemistich

Historical Examples of hemistich

  • The structure of the hemistich in the normal alliterative line.

    A History of English Versification

    Jakob Schipper

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

    Genesis A


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

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

  • The simple five types of the hemistich admit of variation: i. by extension (as above); ii.

British Dictionary definitions for hemistich


  1. prosody a half line of verse
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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 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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper