1. (not in technical use) a stanza.
  2. a succession of metrical feet written, printed, or orally composed as one line; one of the lines of a poem.
  3. a particular type of metrical line: a hexameter verse.
  4. a poem, or piece of poetry.
  5. metrical composition; poetry, especially as involving metrical form.
  6. metrical writing distinguished from poetry because of its inferior quality: a writer of verse, not poetry.
  7. a particular type of metrical composition: elegiac verse.
  8. the collective poetry of an author, period, nation, etc.: Miltonian verse; American verse.
  9. one of the short conventional divisions of a chapter of the Bible.
  10. Music.
    1. that part of a song following the introduction and preceding the chorus.
    2. a part of a song designed to be sung by a solo voice.
  11. Rare. a line of prose, especially a sentence, or part of a sentence, written as one line.
  12. Rare. a subdivision in any literary work.


  1. of, relating to, or written in verse: a verse play.

verb (used without object), versed, vers·ing.

  1. versify.

verb (used with object), versed, vers·ing.

  1. to express in verse.


  1. (not in technical usage) a stanza or other short subdivision of a poem
  2. poetry as distinct from prose
    1. a series of metrical feet forming a rhythmic unit of one line
    2. (as modifier)verse line
  3. a specified type of metre or metrical structureiambic verse
  4. one of the series of short subsections into which most of the writings in the Bible are divided
  5. a metrical composition; poem


  1. a rare word for versify

c.1050, “line or section of a psalm or canticle,” later “line of poetry” (late 14c.), from Anglo-French and Old French vers, from Latin versus “verse, line of writing,” from PIE root *wer- (3) “to turn, bend” (see versus). The metaphor is of plowing, of “turning” from one line to another (vertere = “to turn”) as a plowman does.

Verse was invented as an aid to memory. Later it was preserved to increase pleasure by the spectacle of difficulty overcome. That it should still survive in dramatic art is a vestige of barbarism. [Stendhal “de l’Amour,” 1822]

Old English had fers, an early West Germanic borrowing directly from Latin. Meaning “metrical composition” is recorded from c.1300; sense of “part of a modern pop song” (as distinguished from the chorus) is attested from 1927. The English New Testament first was divided fully into verses in the Geneva version (1550s).

A kind of language made intentionally different from ordinary speech or prose. It usually employs devices such as meter and rhyme, though not always. Free verse, for example, has neither meter nor rhyme. Verse is usually considered a broader category than poetry, with the latter being reserved to mean verse that is serious and genuinely artistic.

see chapter and verse.

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