A tercet is a poem or a stanza with three lines. English-language haiku is one example of a simple, non-rhyming tercet.

A haiku is a stand-alone tercet, a complete poem in three lines (and, often, 17 syllables). Other poems are broken into stanzas, each of which is a tercet. Tercets frequently rhyme in an ABA pattern, like the stanzas in Shelley's Ode to the West Wind: lines of the first tercet end with "being," "dead," and "fleeing," and the next with "red," "thou," and "bed." The Latin root of tercet means "third."

Want to expand your vocabulary?

Get Word of the Day delivered straight to your inbox!

Previous Words of the Day


Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week