early 15c., "pertaining to versification, characterized by poetic measure or rhythm," from Latin metricus "metrical," from Greek metrikos "of or for meter, metrical," from metron "poetic meter" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure"). Old English had meterlic in this sense. Meaning "pertaining to measure or the use of weights and measures" is from 1640s. Related: Metrically.
It forms all or part of: amenorrhea; centimeter; commensurate; diameter; dimension; gematria; geometry; immense; isometric; meal (n.1) "food, time for eating;" measure; menarche; meniscus; menopause; menses; menstrual; menstruate; mensural; meter (n.1) "poetic measure;" meter (n.2) unit of length; meter (n.3) "device for measuring;" -meter; Metis; metric; metrical; metronome; -metry; Monday; month; moon; parameter; pentameter; perimeter; piecemeal; semester; symmetry; thermometer; trigonometry; trimester.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit mati "measures," matra "measure;" Avestan, Old Persian ma- "to measure;" Greek metron "measure," metra "lot, portion;" Latin metri "to measure."
"a pause about the middle of a metrical line" (often coinciding with a pause in sense), 1550s, from Latin caesura, "metrical pause," literally "a cutting," from past participle stem of caedere "to cut down" (from PIE root *kae-id- "to strike"). In classical use, "the division of a metrical foot between two words, a break within a foot caused by the end of a word," as opposed to a diaeresis, a pause between feet.
metrical foot of one long and three short syllables (in any order), c. 1600, from Latin paeon, from Greek paiōn (see paean). Related: Paeonic.
"pertaining to the system of weights and measures based on the meter," 1855, from French métrique, from mèter (see meter (n.2)). In this sense, metrical is attested from 1797. Metric system is attested by 1855.
16c. spelling variant or attempted classical correction of Middle English rime "measure, meter, rhythm," also "agreement in end-sounds of words or metrical lines, rhyme; a rhyming poem" (12c.), from Old French rime "verse," from Latin rhythmus "movement in time," from Greek rhythmos "measured flow or movement, rhythm; proportion, symmetry; arrangement, order; form, shape, wise, manner; soul, disposition," related to rhein "to flow" (from PIE root *sreu- "to flow"). Compare rhyme.
The word rhyme has no connection with the word rhythm, nor is rhyme necessary to accentual verse. Nevertheless, rhyme was usually present. On the other hand, in classical Greek metrical poetry, rhymes, if not accidental, were never an essential element of metrical verse structure. [Henry Osborn Taylor, "The Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages," 1911]
The spelling fluctuated 16c.-17c., rithme and ri'me also being used. From 1550s as "metrical movement, movement in time characterized by equality of measures and alteration of stress and relaxation." By 1776 as "regular succession of beats or accents in music."
The rhythm method in reference to birth control is attested from 1936. Rhythm and blues, U.S. music style, is from 1949 (first in Billboard magazine).
metrical foot, late 14c., from Latin dactylus, from Greek daktylos, a unit of measure (a finger-breadth), also "a fruit of the date tree, a date," literally "finger" (also "toe"), a word of unknown origin. The metrical use (a long syllable followed by two short ones) is by analogy with the three joints of a finger. In English versification it refers to an accented syllable followed by two unaccented. The "date" sense also sometimes was used in early Modern English.
"a short poem in fixed form; a metrical form of 10 or 13 lines with but two rhymes," 1520s, from French rondeau, from Old French rondel "short poem" (see rondel). "In Flanders Fields" and "Jenny Kiss'd Me" are notable English examples.