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Lacking the final syllable or syllables expected in the regular pattern of a metrical verse line (see metre). The term is most often used of the common English trochaic line in which the optional final unstressed syllable (or feminine ending) is not used. Of these lines from Shelley's ‘To a Skylark’, the second and fourth are catalectic:In the golden lightning Of the sunken sun,O'er which clouds are bright'ning, Thou dost float and runThe first and third lines, which have the full number of syllables, are acatalectic. Unlike most English adjectives, ‘catalectic’ and its opposite ‘acatalectic’ usually follow the nouns they qualify: thus the last of Shelley's lines quoted above would be called a trochaic trimeter catalectic. A line which is short by more than one syllable is brachycatalectic, while a line with one syllable too many is hypercatalectic. Noun: catalexis. See also acephalous, defective Foot, truncation.

Subjects: Literature.

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