Iambic tetrameter is a meter of verse. It refers to a line consisting of four iambic feet. The word "tetrameter" means that there are four feet in the line; iambic gives the type of foot (two syllables, one unstressed followed by one stressed). Some poetic forms rely upon iambic tetrameter: the triolet, Onegin stanza, Memoriam stanza, originally the villanelle, and long meter (or long measure) ballad stanza.

Quantitative verseEdit

The term originally applied to the quantitative meter of Classical Greek poetry, in which an iamb consisted of a short syllable followed by a long syllable. See syllable weight.

Accentual-syllabic verseEdit

The term was adopted to describe the equivalent meter in accentual-syllabic verse, as composed in English, German, Russian, and other languages. Here, iamb refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. A line of iambic tetrameter consists of four such feet in a row:

da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM

See the article on iambic pentameter for a more detailed presentation of the basic rhythm of iambic lines. Here is an English example of iambic tetrameter: Come LIVE / with ME / and BE / my LOVE. (Christopher Marlowe, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love") Here is a German example: Dies BILD/nis IST / bezAUB/ernd SCHÅŽN.[1] (Emanuel Schikaneder, libretto to The Magic Flute)


Poems that use iambic tetrameter include:

See alsoEdit


  1. "This image is enchantingly lovely". See Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön.

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