An amphibrach is a metrical foot used in Latin and Greek prosody. It consists of a long syllable between two short syllables.

Amphibrachs are seldom used to construct an entire poem. They mainly occur as variants within, for instance, an anapaestic structure.

In English stress-based poetry, an amphibrach is a stressed syllable surrounded by two unstressed syllables. It is the main foot used in the construction of the limerick, e.g., "There was a | young lady | of Wantage"

The amphibrach is also often used in ballads and light verse, such as the hypermetrical lines of Sir John Betjeman's "Meditation on the A40".

Some books by Dr. Seuss contain many lines written in amphibrachs, such as these from "If I Ran the Circus":

:All ready | to put up | the tents for | my circus.:I think I | will call it | the Circus | McGurkus.

:And NOW comes | an act of | Enormous | Enormance!:No former | performer's | performed this | performance!

Much of Leonard Cohen's song "Famous Blue Raincoat" [ [ Leonard Cohen's official website] ] is written in amphibrachs - e.g. the first verse (apart from the first foot of the third line, which is a spondee):

:It's four in | the morning, | the end of | December:I'm writing | you now just | to see if | you're better:New York | is cold, but | I like where | I'm living:There's music | on Clinton | Street all through | the evening.


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  • Amphibrach — Am phi*brach ([a^]m f[i^]*br[a^]k), n. [L. ?, Gr. ? short at both ends; amfi + brachy s short.] (Anc. Pros.) A foot of three syllables, the middle one long, the first and last short ([crescent] [crescent]); as, h[a^]b[=e]r[e^]. In modern prosody… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • amphibrach — (n.) 1580s, from L. amphibrachus, from Gk. amphibrakhys, a foot consisting of a long syllable between two short, lit. short at both ends, from amphi on both sides (see AMPHI (Cf. amphi )) + brakhys short (see BRIEF (Cf. brief) (adj.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • amphibrach — [am′fə brak΄] n. [L amphibrachys < Gr, lit., short before and after < amphi , AMPHI + brachys, short: see MERRY] a metrical foot consisting, in Greek and Latin verse, of one long syllable between two short ones, or, in English verse, of one …   English World dictionary

  • amphibrach — noun Etymology: Latin amphibrachys, from Greek, literally, short at both ends, from amphi + brachys short more at brief Date: 1858 a metrical foot consisting of a long syllable between two short syllables in quantitative verse or of a stressed… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • amphibrach — amphibrachic, adj. /am feuh brak /, n. Pros. a trisyllabic foot, the arrangement of the syllables of which is short, long, short in quantitative meter, or unstressed, stressed, unstressed in accentual meter. Thus, together is an accentual… …   Universalium

  • amphibrach — /ˈæmfəbræk/ (say amfuhbrak) noun (in prosody) a trisyllabic foot in which the syllables come in the following order: short, long, short (quantitative metre), or unstressed, stressed, unstressed (accentual metre). Thus, together is an accentual… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • amphibrach — noun /ˈamfɪbɹak/ a) A metrical foot in ancient Greek or Latin consisting of two short syllables surrounding one long one (e.g. ). Then Banoffsky launched into Glinkas great amphibrachs [...]: Subside, agitation of passion! b) A metrical foot in… …   Wiktionary

  • Amphibrach — Am|phi|brạch 〈m.; (e)s od. e, en; Metrik〉 = Amphibrachys …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Amphibrach — Am|phi|brạch 〈m.; Gen.: (e)s od. en, Pl.: e od. en〉 = Amphibrachys …   Lexikalische Deutsches Wörterbuch

  • amphibrach — am·phi·brach …   English syllables

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