rhythm

rhythm, meter, cadence can all mean the more or less regular rise and fall in intensity of sounds that one associates chiefly with poetry and music.
Rhythm, which of these three terms is the most inclusive and the widest in its range of application, implies movement and flow as well as an agreeable succession of rising and falling sounds; it need not suggest regular alternation of these sounds, but it fundamentally implies the recurrence at fairly regular intervals of the accented or prolonged syllable in poetry or of the heavy beat or the accented note in music, so that no matter how many unaccented or unstressed syllables or notes lie between these, the continuing up and down movement is strongly apparent to the senses. Consequently rhythm is used not only in reference to speech sounds and musical tones ordered with relation to stress and time, but also to dancing, games, and various natural phenomena where a comparable pulsing movement is apparent, and even to the arts of design, where fluctuations in line or pattern suggest a pulsing movement
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the wavering, lovely rhythms of the sea— Rose Macaulay

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every one learned music, dancing, and song. Therefore it is natural for them to regard rhythm and grace in all the actions of life— Ellis

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lost their talent in the deadening rhythms of war, its boredom, its concussion, and ... its injustice— Mailer

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Meter implies the reduction of rhythm to system and measure. Poetry that has meter has a definite rhythmical pattern which determines the typical foot or sometimes the arrangement of feet in each line and either the number of feet in every line or, if a stanzaic pattern is implied, in each verse of a stanza
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the revolt against meter in poetry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth cen- turies

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the only strict antithesis to prose is meterWordsworth

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In music meter implies the division of the rhythm into measures, all of which are uniform in number of beats or time units, and each of which begins with the accented tone.
Cadence is the least clearly fixed in meaning of these words. The term has often been used as though it were equal to rhythm, or sometimes to meter, especially when the reference is to poetry
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golden cadence of poesy— Shak.

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wit will shine through the harsh cadence of a rugged line— Dry den

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poetry can never again become a popular art until the poet gives himself wholly to "the cadence of consenting feet"— Read

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Cadence often stresses the rise and fall of sound or the rhythm as heard, whether in prose or in poetry, and as influenced by tone or modulation, choice of words, and association of sound and feeling
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great music like that of Prospero's speech in The Tempest or the cadence of Cleopatra's "Give me my robe"— Alexander

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I could hear the cadence of his voice and that was all, nothing but the measured rise and fall of syllables— Marquand

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the singsong cadence which jarred on her the more because she was still trying to free her own speech of it— Wouk

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New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • rhythm — (n.) 1550s, from L. rhythmus movement in time, from Gk. rhythmos measured flow or movement, rhythm, related to rhein to flow, from PIE root *sreu to flow (see RHEUM (Cf. rheum)). In Medieval Latin, rithmus was used for accentual, as opposed to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • rhythm — [rith′əm] n. [< Fr or L: Fr rythme < L rhythmus < Gr rhythmos, measure, measured motion < base of rheein, to flow: see STREAM] 1. a) flow, movement, procedure, etc. characterized by basically regular recurrence of elements or features …   English World dictionary

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  • Rhythm — Rhythm, n. [F. rhythme, rythme, L. rhythmus, fr. Gr. ??? measured motion, measure, proportion, fr. rei^n to flow. See {Stream}.] 1. In the widest sense, a dividing into short portions by a regular succession of motions, impulses, sounds, accents …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • rhythm — ► NOUN 1) a strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound. 2) the systematic arrangement of musical sounds, according to duration and periodical stress. 3) a particular pattern formed by such arrangement: a slow waltz rhythm. 4) the… …   English terms dictionary

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