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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cretic \Cre"tic\ (kr[=e]"t[i^]k), n. [L. Creticus (sc. pes foot), Gr. Kritiko`s (sc. poy`s foot), prop., a Cretan (metrical) foot.] (Gr. & Lat. Pros.) A poetic foot, composed of one short syllable between two long ones (- [crescent] -).


a. Referring to a metrical pattern of poetry where each foot is composed of 3 syllables, the first and third of which are stressed and the second is unstressed. This pattern is very rare in English poetry.


A cretic (also Cretic, amphimacer and sometimes paeon diagyios) is a metrical foot containing three syllables: long, short, long. In Greek poetry, the cretic was usually a form of paeonic or aeolic verse. However, any line mixing iambs and trochees could employ a cretic foot as a transition. In other words, a poetic line might have two iambs and two trochees, with a cretic foot in between ( -' -' '-' '- '-).

For Romance language poetry, the cretic has been a common form in folk poetry, whether in proverbs or tags (e.g., in English, "See ya' lat'r, alligator/ In a while, crocodile"). Additionally, some English poets have responded to the naturally iambic nature of English and the need for a trochaic initial substitution to employ a cretic foot. That is, it is commonplace for English poetry to employ a trochee in the first position of an otherwise iambic line, and some poets have consciously worked with cretic lines and fully cretic measures. English Renaissance songs employed cretic dimeter fairly frequently (e.g. "Shall I die? Shall I fly?" attributed to William Shakespeare). Because the cretic, in stress-based prosody, is natural for a comparison or antithesis, it is well suited to advertising slogans and adages.

Annie Hall's often-quoted line from the movie of that name is spoken as a cretic: "La-di-dah!"

Usage examples of "cretic".

And I think that I have an indistinct recollection of his mentioning a complex Cretic rhythm.