Definition of anacrusis in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌanəˈkruːsɪs/

noun (plural anacruses /ˌanəˈkruːsiːz/)

1 Prosody One or more unstressed syllables at the beginning of a verse.
Example sentences
  • Coleridge seems not to have noticed that the tenth line is actually a heptameter - unless one were to allow a double anacrusis.
  • A full anapestic metre with feminine ending gives somewhat the effect of anacrusis, since a third light syllable must be crowded in between the stresses.
  • The Old English poem contains only about eighty instances of anacrusis, for example.
2 Music One or more unstressed notes before the first bar line of a piece or passage.
Example sentences
  • The first subphrase is a modified inversion of the first measure of the Mother's theme, motives a and b and the first note of motive c, excluding the anacrusis but including the grace note.
  • Edward's final, truthful, answer, ‘O, I have killed my father dear,’ explodes at the end of the third stanza of the poem and in the music at the anacrusis to measure 44.
  • This restatement of the Mother's opening chord provides the vehicle for a sudden shift of tonality to B-flat major and Edward's final answer at the anacrusis to measures 44 and following.


Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek anakrousis 'prelude', from ana- 'up' + krousis, from krouein 'to strike'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ana|cru¦sis

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.