from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One or more unstressed syllables at the beginning of a line of verse, before the reckoning of the normal meter begins.
  • n. Music See upbeat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An unstressed syllable at the start of a verse.
  • n. An unstressed note or notes before the first strong beat (or downbeat) of a phrase.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A prefix of one or two unaccented syllables to a verse properly beginning with an accented syllable.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In prosody, an upward beat at the beginning of a verse, consisting of either one or two unaccented syllables, regarded as separate from and introductory to the remainder of the verse.


New Latin anacrūsis, from Greek anakrousis, beginning of a tune, from anakrouein, to strike up a song : ana-, ana- + krouein, to push.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Modern Latin, from Ancient Greek ἀνάκρουσις (anakrousis, "pushing up"), from ἀνακρούω (anakrouō, "I push up"), from ἀνά (ana, "up") + κρούω (krouō, "I strike"). (Wiktionary)


  • 3. The first word of “The Star-Spangled Banner” “Oh” is an example of the literary device known as anacrusis, a lead-in syllable or syllables that precede the first full foot.

    2008 August 15 « One-Minute Book Reviews

  • This may be trochaic with anacrusis or iambic with feminine endings, but neither quite adequately describes it.

    The Principles of English Versification

  • If the first two syllables be regarded as anacrusis, the first line would be trochaic, with a dactyl substituted for a trochee in the second foot.

    The Principles of English Versification

  • Similar combinations, still freer, with frequent anacrusis as well, are characteristic of Swinburne's Hesperia; e. g.

    The Principles of English Versification

  • The four stresses of the Anglo-Saxon verse are retained, and as much thesis and anacrusis is allowed as is consistent with a regular cadence.

    The Translations of Beowulf A Critical Bibliography

  • ‘Possible, of course; but treat them as Ionics a minore with an anacrusis, and see if they don’t go better.’

    New Grub Street

  • By itself the fourth line would be called iambic: in this context it is called trochaic with 'anacrusis,' i. e., with one or more extra-metrical syllables at the beginning. [

    The Principles of English Versification

  • Possible, of course; but treat them as Ionics a minore with an anacrusis, and see if they don't go better. "

    The Private Life of Henry Maitland

  • According to Tristan Jakob-Hoff, Chailly has taken his own pencil to the score and replaced the single-note Thwack! with a "short, anacrusis before each note - 'buh-duh-DUM!

    ArchitectureChicago PLUS


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  • In prosody, an unstressed syllable or syllable group that begins a line of verse but is not counted as part of the first foot. In music, the note or notes preceding a downbeat; upbeat.

    February 12, 2008