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A Dactyl represents a long syllable and two short ones afterwards in Greek or Latin poetry. The term dactyl helps to understand rhythm and stress patterns in language (e.g. Pinsky 1999) and Phonology, the study of how sounds are organized within languages, uses patterns like the dactyl to explore how stress and rhythm shape linguistic structures. This analysis aids linguists in identifying subtle variations in the flow of language and influences how words are pronounced and perceived within communication (e.g. Revesz 2024).

Pattern of dactyl – ◡ ◡
  • The Rape of Lucrece (1594) by Shakespears
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss;
– ◡ ◡ ◡ – ◡ ◡ ◡ – ◡ ◡

Thus, in the line "Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss," the words "Cozening" and "lawful kiss" are dactyl because each follows the pattern of a lengthy syllable and two small ones. The pattern is as follows:

Co (–) zen (◡) ing (◡): Dactyl
Law (–) ful (◡) kiss (◡): Dactyl

  • Sonnet 18 Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? (1609) by Shakespears
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
– – – – ◡ ◡ – – ◡ ◡

In the line “Thou art more lovely and more temperate,” in Sonnet 18 there is a dactyl at the end of the line, which is temperate. The pattern is:

Tem (–) pe (◡) rate (◡): Dactyl


The concept "dactyl" is taken from the Greek word "dáktylos," which stands for "finger". This is because, similar to the finger, the dactyl has just one lengthy syllable followed by two short ones.

Other language

Omond, T. S. (1897). English Hexameter Verse: With a Specimen. David Douglas.
Pinsky, R. (1999). The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 978-0-374-52617-7.
Revesz, P. Z. (2024). Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry: An Interdisciplinary approach. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry (MAA) Journal. ISSN: 2241-8121.
Shakespeare, W. (1896). Rape of Lucrece. J.M. Dent.
Shakespeare, W. (2007). Shakespeare’s Sonnets: With Three Hundred Years of Commentary. Associated University Presse.