Metrical feet
˘ ˘ pyrrhus, dibrach
˘ ¯ iamb
¯ ˘ trochee, choree
¯ ¯ spondee
˘ ˘ ˘ tribrach
¯ ˘ ˘ dactyl
˘ ¯ ˘ amphibrach
˘ ˘ ¯ anapest, antidactylus
˘ ¯ ¯ bacchius
¯ ¯ ˘ antibacchius
¯ ˘ ¯ cretic, amphimacer
¯ ¯ ¯ molossus
See main article for tetrasyllables.
v · /ˈtroʊkiː/) or choree, choreus, is a metrical foot used in formal poetry consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. Trochee comes from the Greek τροχός, trokhós, wheel, and choree from χορός, khorós, dance; both convey the "rolling" rhythm of this metrical foot.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha is written almost entirely in trochees, barring the occasional substitution (iamb, spondee, pyrrhic, etc.).

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odours of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,

In the second line, "and tra-" is a Pyrrhic substitution, as are "With the" in the third and fourth lines, and "of the" in the third. Even so, the dominant foot throughout the poem is the trochee.

Apart from the famous case of Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha, this metre is rarely found in perfect examples, at least in English. This is from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven":

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Trochaic meter is also seen among the works of William Shakespeare:

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.[1]

Perhaps owing to its simplicity, though, trochaic meter is fairly common in children's rhymes:

Peter, Peter pumpkin-eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her.

Often a few trochees will be interspersed among iambs in the same lines to develop a more complex or syncopated rhythm. Compare (William Blake):

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night

These lines are primarily trochaic, with the last syllable dropped so that the line ends with a stressed syllable to give a strong rhyme or masculine rhyme. By contrast, the intuitive way that the mind groups the syllables in later lines in the same poem makes them feel more like iambic lines with the first syllable dropped:

Did he smile his work to see?

In fact the surrounding lines by this point have become entirely iambic:

When the stars threw down their spears
And watered Heaven with their tears
. . .
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Trochaic verse is also well-known in Latin poetry, especially of the medieval period. Since the stress never falls on the final syllable in Medieval Latin, the language is ideal for trochaic verse. The dies irae of the Requiem mass is a perfect example:

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sybilla.

The Finnish national epic Kalevala, like much old Finnish poetry, is written in a variation of trochaic tetrameter.


  1. ^ The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. London: Abbey Library/Cresta House, 1977.

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • trochée — 1. (tro chée ; l Académie prononce tro kée ; mais dans les classes de Paris on prononce généralement tro chée) s. m. Terme de prosodie grecque et latine. Pied formé de deux syllabes, une longue et une brève. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Le grec de trochée,… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • trochee — 1580s, from Fr. trochée, from L. trochaeus a trochee, from Gk. trokhaios (pous), lit. a running, spinning (foot), from trekhein to run (see TRUCKLE (Cf. truckle) (n.)). As a metrical foot, a long followed by a short syllable, or an accented… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Trochee — Trochée En poésie, le trochée est un pied composé d une syllabe longue (ou: accentuée) suivie d une brève (ou: non accentuée). En versification russe, ce mètre s appelle aussi un chorée (хорей). Portail de la poésie Ce document provient de «… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Trochee — Tro chee, n. [L. trochaeus, Gr. ? (sc.?), from ? running, from ? to run. Cf. {Troche}, {Truck} a wheel.] (Pros.) A foot of two syllables, the first long and the second short, as in the Latin word ante, or the first accented and the second… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • trochée — Trochée, c est un bouquet de poirier ou pommier, où il y a dix ou douze poires ou pommes tenans audit bouquet …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • trochee — ► NOUN Poetry ▪ a foot consisting of one long or stressed syllable followed by one short or unstressed syllable. ORIGIN from Greek trokhaios pous running foot …   English terms dictionary

  • trochee — [trō′kē] n. [L trochaeus < Gr trochaios, running < trechein, to run: see TROCHE] a metrical foot consisting, in Greek and Latin verse, of one long syllable followed by one short one, or, as in English verse, of one accented syllable… …   English World dictionary

  • trochée — 1. trochée [ trɔʃe ] n. m. • 1551; lat. trochæus, gr. trokhaios, « coureur », de trokhos « course » ♦ Métr. ant. Pied formé de deux syllabes, une longue et une brève. Mod. « les pieds employés, qui sont des trochées, consistent en une syllabe… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • trochee — UK [ˈtrəʊkiː] / US [ˈtroʊkɪ] noun [countable] Word forms trochee : singular trochee plural trochees literature a set of two syllables in poetry in which you emphasize the first one when you read it, but not the second …   English dictionary

  • trochee — noun Etymology: probably from Middle French trochée, from Latin trochaeus, from Greek trochaios, from trochaios running, from trochē run, course, from trechein to run; akin to Greek trochos wheel, Old Irish droch Date: 1589 a metrical foot… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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