The dictionary.com word of the day is 'Cheville' and it explains it as such: A word or expression whose only function is to fill a metrical gap in a verse or to balance a sentence.

Can anyone give some examples of these words?


One possible example is noted in this sonnet (the "Oh," in line 5)

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,

Source: Sonnet (1928) by Elizabeth Bishop

In addition, the insertion of "dost" (or "do") in order to match the meter requirements is another example:

How can my Muse want subject to invent,
While thou dost breathe, that pour'st into my verse

Source: Sonnet 38 by Shakespeare


Most intensifiers - "very", "quite", "so", etc. - add no real meaning, and can be added or dropped at will to assist in scansion.

In addition, declamatory introductions such as "Oh", "Lo", etc. can fill the same role; they're a bit less common in modern usage, however.


Stated, the normal usage is in verse/lyrical sense

So in the modern age a more appropriate 'Cheville' example would be:

(no cheville) you know how it feels when the car has no wheels

(Cheville) you know how it - really feels when your car 'ain't got' no wheels

It has no real obvious purpose other then enforce, empower and/or change the lyrical flow of the verse to match maybe a beat and/or compensate for missing "glue" to match the previous statement/rhyme.


Here are a couple sentences from Wiktionary:

1905, Robert Louis Stevenson, The Art of Writing:

  • The genius of prose rejects the cheville no less emphatically than the laws of verse; and the cheville, I should perhaps explain to some of my readers, is any meaningless or very watered phrase employed to strike a balance in the sound.

1910, Patrick Weston Joyce, English as we speak it in Ireland, chapter 5

  • The practice of using chevilles was very common in old Irish poetry, and a bad practice it was; for many a good poem is quite spoiled by the constant and wearisome recurrence of these chevilles.

    'They met with an island after sailing -

    wonderful guidance

    'The third day after, on the end of the rod—

    deed of power

    The chieftain found— it was a very great joy -

    a cluster of apples.'

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