• WordNet 3.6
    • n dactyl a finger or toe in human beings or corresponding body part in other vertebrates
    • n dactyl a metrical unit with stressed-unstressed-unstressed syllables
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • dactyl (Zoöl) A finger or toe; a digit.
    • dactyl (Pros) A poetical foot of three sylables (--- ˘ ˘), one long followed by two short, or one accented followed by two unaccented; as, L. tëgmĭnĕ, E. mer"ciful; -- so called from the similarity of its arrangement to that of the joints of a finger.
    • dactyl (Zoöl) The claw or terminal joint of a leg of an insect or crustacean.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n dactyl A unit of linear measure; a finger-breadth; a digit: used in reference to Greek, Egyptian, and Babylonian measures. The Egyptian dactyl was precisely one fourth of a palm, and was equal to 0.74 inch, or 18.7 millimeters. The Babylonian and Assyrian dactyls are by some authors considered as the fifth part, by others as the sixth part, of the corresponding palms. The ordinary Greek dactyl was one fourth of a palm, and its value in Athens is variously calculated to be from 1.85 to 1.93 centimeters.
    • n dactyl In prosody, a foot of three syllables, the first long, the second and third short. The dactyl of modern or accentual versification is simply an accented syllable followed by two which are unaccented, and is accounted a dactyl without regard to the relative time taken in pronouncing the several syllables. Thus, the words cheerily, verily, violate, and edify, which on the principles of ancient metrics would be called respectively a dactyl , a tribrach , a Cretic , and an anapest , are all alike regarded as dactyls. The quantitative dactyl of Greek and Latin poetry is tetrasemic—that is, has a magnitude of four moræ (see mora); and as two of these constitute the thesis (in the Greek sense) and two the arsis, the dactyl, like its inverse, the anapest , belongs to the equal (isorrhythmic) class of feet. The true or normal dactyl has the ictus or metrical stress on the first syllable . Its most frequent equivalent or substitute is the dactylic spondee , in which the two short times are contracted into one long. Resolution of the long syllable is rare.
    • n dactyl In anatomy: A digit, whether of the hand or foot; a finger or a toe.
    • n dactyl A toe or digit of the hind foot only, when the word digit is restricted to a finger.
    • n dactyl In zoology, a dactylus.
    • n dactyl The piddock, Pholas dactylus. See dactylus .—
    • dactyl To move nimbly; leap; bound.
    • n dactyl In Greek antiquity, a mythological creature supposed to have the secrets of fire and of iron-working. The dactyls were associated with the worship of Rhea and Cybele. The basis is found in some sacred stones (bætyl-stones) found in Crete, and associated with the worship of Cybele.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Dactyl dak′til in Latin and Greek poetry, a foot of three syllables, one long followed by two short, so called from its likeness to the joints of a finger; in English, a foot of three syllables, with the first accented, as mer'rily, vi'olate
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. dactylus, Gr. da`ktylos a finger, a dactyl. Cf. Digit
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. dactylus—Gr. daktylos, a finger.


In literature:

This young Bosinney" (he made the word a dactyl in opposition to general usage of a short o) "has got nothing.
"The Forsyte Saga, Volume I." by John Galsworthy
The metre of the song is dactylic; the accents being on the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th syllables.
"The Lady of the Lake" by Sir Walter Scott
This young Bosinney" (he made the word a dactyl in opposition to general usage of a short o) "has got nothing.
"The Forsyte Saga, Complete" by John Galsworthy
STREPSIADES: Of the Dactyl (finger)?
"The Satyricon, Volume 6 (Editor's Notes)" by Petronius Arbiter
STREPSIADES: Of the Dactyl (finger)?
"The Satyricon, Complete" by Petronius Arbiter
This poem, written before he left England, is, like most of his verse, in dactylic hexameters.
"Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, Vol. 1"
There is also a rhyme, in each line, of the second dactyl with the fourth.
"Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 4" by Charles Dudley Warner
Simple Dactylic, three " " " 1 2 3 4, 5 6 7 8, 9 10 11 12.
"Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1" by Various
A periosteal type of dactylitis is also met with.
"Manual of Surgery" by Alexis Thomson and Alexander Miles
To say that the first phrase is made up of a dactyl and two trochees means very little.
"The Principles of English Versification" by Paull Franklin Baum
How long ago it seems, that spring noonshine when two young men (we will call them Dactyl and Spondee) set off to plunder the golden bag of Time.
"Pipefuls" by Christopher Morley
Who could be bothered with dactyls and spondees when goal-posts and touch-lines were far more to the point?
"The Fifth Form at Saint Dominic's" by Talbot Baines Reed
For example, "The Merchant of Venice" is in iambic pentameter, and "The Courtship of Miles Standish" is in dactylic hexameter.
"English: Composition and Literature" by W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
A dactyl is a foot of three syllables, as Ang{e}l{u}s, an angel, pOrc{u}l{u}s, a little pig.
"The Comic Latin Grammar" by Percival Leigh
The general anapaestic or dactylic rhythm is much disturbed by the iambic fourth line of the first stanza.
"Writings in the United Amateur, 1915-1922" by Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Why it should be pronounced Namunu, dactylically, I cannot see, but so I have always heard it.
"The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 14 (of 25)" by Robert Louis Stevenson
DUBOIS, R.: 1892, Anatomie et Physiologie Comparees de la Pholade Dactyle.
"The Nature of Animal Light" by E. Newton Harvey
A final dactyl, requiring an elision to make it fit its place, appears to me very odious.
"Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 60, No. 372, October 1846" by Various
Young gentlemen, there's a capital start on a fine, sonorous line, dactylic hexameter.
"From School to Battle-field" by Charles King
The four other feet may be either spondees or dactyls.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 13, Slice 4" by Various

In poetry:

The epic roll of the furrow
Flung from the writing plow,
The dactyl phrase of the green-rowed maize
Measured the music of Now.
"The Poet's Town" by John Gneisenau Neihardt

In news:

Tuberculous dactylitis ( spina ventosa) secondary to pulmonary tuberculosis.