A tanka is a short Japanese poem with a total of 31 syllables. Traditionally, a tanka was written in one long line, but it's more common to find today's version divided into five lines.

A tanka is a slightly longer version of the more familiar haiku. Most tankas take the form of five lines divided into five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables — if you feel hampered by the typical three brief lines of a haiku, you should try writing a tanka instead. In the 8th century AD, a tanka was simply a short poem (it means "short song" in Japanese), but the term was revived and modernized in the early 1900s.

Definitions of tanka
  1. noun
    a form of Japanese poetry; the 1st and 3rd lines have five syllables and the 2nd, 4th, and 5th have seven syllables
    see moresee less
    type of:
    poem, verse form
    a composition written in metrical feet forming rhythmical lines
  2. noun
    a Tibetan religious painting on fabric
    see moresee less
    type of:
    painting, picture
    graphic art consisting of an artistic composition made by applying paints to a surface
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month