What Is Iambic Pentameter?


Quick Answer

Iambic pentameter is a literary term for a poetic meter consisting of five iambs per line of text. An iamb is the basis of iambic pentameter. The iamb is a metrical foot that consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

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Iambic pentameter has been frequently employed in poetry and dramatic plays, and it is the basis for the poetic form of the sonnet. The playwright William Shakespeare is known for using iambic pentameter in all of his plays and sonnets. However, the medieval author Chaucer was the first to use the meter in his collection of stories, "The Canterbury Tales."

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