1630s, "Any rhyming verse in which the meter is forced into metronomic regularity by the stressing of normally unstressed syllables and in which rhyme is forced or banal" [Miller Williams, "Patterns of Poetry"]. Earlier as an adjective (rim doggerel, late 14c.), an epithet applied to loose, irregular verse in burlesque poetry.
Probably from pejorative suffix -rel + dog (n.), but the sense connection is not obvious. Perhaps it was applied to bad poetry with a suggestion of puppyish clumsiness, or being fit only for dogs, or from the "mean, contemptible" associations of dog in Middle English. Attested as a surname from late 13c., but the sense is not evident. Related: Doggerelist.
1580s, of a line of verse, "wanting an unaccented syllable in the last foot," from Late Latin catalecticus, from Greek katalektikos "leaving off," from kata "down" (see cata-) + legein "to leave off, cease from," from PIE root *sleg- "be slack, be languid." A complete line is said to be acatalectic.
humorous verse form, 1928, from English humorist Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), who described it in a book published 1906 under the name E. Clerihew.
George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.
Missing -d in English is probably from confusion with suffix -ed (see lawn (n.1)). Sense of "look at closely, examine minutely (as one does when counting metrical feet in poetry)" first recorded 1540s. The (opposite) sense of "look over quickly, skim" is first attested 1926. Related: Scanned; scanning.
also metre, "poetic measure, metrical scheme, arrangement of language in a series of rhythmic movements," Old English meter "meter, versification," from Latin mētrum, from Greek metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure").
The word was possibly reborrowed early 14c. (after a 300-year gap in recorded use), from Old French metre, with a specific sense of "metrical scheme in verse," from Latin mētrum.
In the first place, observe, that all great poets intend their work to be read by simple people, and expect no help in it from them ; but intend only to give them help, in expressing what otherwise they could never have found words for. Therefore a true master poet invariably calculates on his verse being first read as prose would be ; and on the reader's being pleasantly surprised by finding that he has fallen unawares into music. [Ruskin, "Elements of English Prosody, for use in St. George's Schools," 1880]