Rhythm: From the Greek for “flow,” a term referring to a measured flow of words and signifying the basic (though often varied) beat or pattern in language that is established by stressed syllables, unstressed syllables, and pauses. Rhythm is a feature of both prose and verse.

Rhythm is distinguished from meter, which involves the organization of syllables and pauses into a more formal, regular pattern of stress units with a dominant foot (what in music would be called a “beat”). Rhythm is also distinguished from rhyme. In verse, rhythm is often accompanied by rhyme but need not be; while rhyme intensifies rhythmic patterns, it is not an essential element of poetry. In prose, where rhyme is uncommon, rhythm is generally established by imitating the cadences of everyday speech and through the use of devices such as euphony, parallelism, and repetition.