[spen-seer-ee-uh n]
  1. an imitator of Spenser.
  2. Spenserian stanza.
  3. verse in Spenserian stanzas.

Origin of Spenserian

First recorded in 1810–20; Spenser + -ian
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of spenserian

British Dictionary definitions for spenserian


  1. relating to, in the style of, or characteristic of Edmund Spenser, the English poet (?1552–99), or his poetry
  1. a student or imitator of Edmund Spenser
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 spenserian



1817, from Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599), Elizabethan poet. Spenserian stanza, which he employed in the "Faerie Queen," consists of eight decasyllabic lines and a final Alexandrine, with rhyme scheme ab ab bc bcc. For the origin of the surname, see Spencer.

"The measure soon ceases to be Spenser's except in its mere anatomy of rhyme-arrangement" [Elton, "Survey of English Literature 1770-1880," 1920]; it is the meter in Butler's "Hudibras," Scott's "Lady of the Lake," and notably the "Childe Harold" of Byron, who found (quoting Beattie) that it allowed him to be "either droll or pathetic, descriptive or sentimental, tender or satirical, as the humour strikes me; for, if I mistake not, the measure which I have adopted admits equally of all these kinds of composition."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper