[ stan-zuh ]
See synonyms for: stanzastanzas on

  1. an arrangement of a certain number of lines, usually four or more, sometimes having a fixed length, meter, or rhyme scheme, forming a division of a poem.

Origin of stanza

First recorded in 1580–90; from Italian: literally, “room, station, stopping-place” (plural stanze ), from unattested Vulgar Latin stantia, equivalent to Latin stant- (stem of stāns ), present participle of stāre “to stand” + -ia abstract noun suffix; see stand, -y3

synonym study For stanza

See verse.

word story For stanza

Stanza is first recorded in English at the end of the 16th century, borrowed from Italian. A stanza is a well-defined group of several lines of poetry having a fixed length, meter, or rhyme scheme; the scheme is usually repeated. In Italian, stanza means “a stopping place, room (in a house), lodging, chamber, stanza (in poetry).” The Italian word comes from Vulgar Latin stantia, a noun formed from stant-, the present participle stem of stare “to stand” and the abstract noun suffix -ia.
Stanza and strophe are often used interchangeably, but stanza is more properly used for modern rhyming poetry based on stressed versus unstressed syllables, and strophe is more properly used for ancient quantitative poetry based on the duration of syllables, especially in Greek drama. In modern poetry, a strophe is any separate section or extended movement in a poem, distinguished from a stanza in that it does not follow a regularly repeated scheme.

Other words from stanza

  • stanzaed, adjective
  • stan·za·ic [stan-zey-ik], /stænˈzeɪ ɪk/, stan·za·i·cal, adjective
  • stan·za·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • non·stan·za·ic, adjective
  • un·stan·za·ic, adjective

Words Nearby stanza Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use stanza in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stanza


/ (ˈstænzə) /

  1. prosody a fixed number of verse lines arranged in a definite metrical pattern, forming a unit of a poem

  2. US and Australian a half or a quarter in a football match

Origin of stanza

C16: from Italian: halting place, from Vulgar Latin stantia (unattested) station, from Latin stāre to stand

Derived forms of stanza

  • stanzaed, adjective
  • stanzaic (stænˈzeɪɪk), adjective

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

Cultural definitions for stanza


A group of lines of verse, usually set off from other groups by a space. The stanzas of a poem often have the same internal pattern of rhymes.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.