Which words are iambic or anapest: comprehend, contradict, unwashed, insist, "Of mice and men", and "Get a life"

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In poetic meter jargon, the stressed and unstressed syllables of a poetic foot have been given names.  A good mnemonic device is: “trochee” is a trochee, but “anapest” is dactylic.  This means that a two-syllable iambic foot (most common in the English language and found in the iambic pentameter lines of Shakespeare’s sonnet lines) is two syllables, unstressed and stressed—as in “above” or “below”.  A foot with two syllables, the first stressed and the second unstressed—“table” or “seven” or “trochee”—is a trochee.  Three-syllable feet are called dactylic and anapest—stress-unstressed-unstressed is dactylic (like the word “ravishing” or “cellophane” or  “anapest”), and an anapest is unstressed-unstressed-stressed, as in “rearrange” or “contradict” or “intervene”.  So, in your list:


“comprehend” is an anapest

“contradict” is an anapest

“unwashed” is iambic

“insist” is iambic

“of mice and men” consists of two iambs—“of mice” and “and men”

“get a life” is an anapest.


Some words, of course, can be stressed more than one way, as “desert” (a trochee if referring to the sandy wasteland) and desert (iambic  if referring to abandonment.)  Then there is “dessert” (cake or pie)—an iamb.