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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Dactyl

Definition:

A dactyl is a foot of poetry made up of three syllables: one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. Dactyls often have a sing-song hypnotic effect on readers, and sound a little something like this: DUM-da-da.

Check it out:

Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

That's the first line of the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" which is written in dactyls. For some non-music poetry, check out Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade".