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A verse form first used by the Provençal troubadours, consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in varied order as end words in the other stanzas and also recur in the envoy.

[Italian, from sesto, sixth, from Latin sextus; see s(w)eks in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Poetry) an elaborate verse form of Italian origin, normally unrhymed, consisting of six stanzas of six lines each and a concluding tercet. The six final words of the lines in the first stanza are repeated in a different order in each of the remaining five stanzas and also in the concluding tercet. Also called: sestine or sextain
[C19: from Italian, from sesto sixth, from Latin sextus]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(sɛˈsti nə)

n., pl. -nas, -ne (-nā).
a poem of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy, in which each stanza repeats the end words of the lines of the first stanza, but in different order, the envoy using the six words again, three in the middle of the lines and three at the end. Also called sextain.
[1580–90; < Italian sixth]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
He called this pattern the retrogradatio cruciata. Retrogradatio (from Medieval Latin), refers to backward movement, and cruciata (from crux, meaning cross) implies crossing.
I've suggested that the retrogradatio cruciata's dyadic movement enacts a cathartic rite.
Petrarch's sestinas match the defining traits of the metrical form created by Arnaut Daniel: the rhyme scheme ABCDEF, the use of rhyme-words, and the permutation, called retrogradatio cruciata in medieval Latin tradition (Alighieri, De vulgari eloquentia 245), that leads each rhyme-word artfully through all six positions in six stanzas.