Shakespeare's Sonnets

Shakespeare's Sonnets Glossary


a two-line, typically rhyming unit of verse

Early Modern English

the English language as it was between the years 1485 and 1650, featuring slight but noticeable differences from Modern English in spelling, pronunciation, and grammar

iambic pentameter

a poetic meter comprising five feet, each foot consisting of an unstressed or short syllable followed by a stressed or long syllable, making each line ten syllables long; variations on this meter are common


a four-line, typically rhyming unit of verse

Shakespearean sonnet

named after its most famous practitioner, this sonnet form comprises three quatrains and a closing couplet written in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg; also known as the Elizabethan sonnet


a poem of fourteen lines, typically featuring intentional rhyme, regular meter, and a logical structure