Entries linking to metre
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]
word-ending that sometimes distinguish British from American English. In the U.S., the change from -re to -er (to match pronunciation) in words such as fibre, centre, theatre began in late 18c. and became standard there over the next 25 years at the urging of Noah Webster (the 1804 edition of his speller, and especially his 1806 dictionary). The -re spelling, like -our, however, had the authority of Johnson's dictionary behind it and was unmoved in Britain, where it came to be a point of national pride, contra the Yankees.
Despite Webster's efforts, -re was retained in words with -c- or -g- (such as ogre, acre, the latter of which Webster insisted to the end of his days ought to be aker, and it was so printed in editions of the dictionary during his lifetime). The -re spelling generally is more justified by conservative etymology, based on French antecedents. It is met today in the U.S. only in Theatre as an element in the proper names of entertainment showplaces, where it is perhaps felt to inspire a perception of bon ton.
updated on June 01, 2012