recessive accent

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A stress placed on the first syllable of a two‐syllable word that is normally pronounced with the stress on its second syllable. This sometimes occurs in English verse when such a word is followed by a stressed syllable: for the sake of conformity to the metre, the stress is shifted to the initial position, as in John Donne's lineBut éxtreme sense hath made them desperateThe recessive accent is thus a specific type of ‘wrenched accent’ (see accent).

Subjects: Literature.

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