A trochee is a metrical unit of a poetic foot in poetry which is made up of a stressed (accented) syllable followed by an unstressed (unaccented) syllable. Lines of verse that are predominantly made up of trochees are referred to as trochaic. For instance, a line consisting of five sets of trochees would be considered to be in trochaic pentameter. The word trochee itself is trochaic.
One of the most famous literary works that is predominately in trochaic meter is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha. Another example is from a well known children's rhyme:
(/) Stressed (~) Unstressed
Eeny(/~), meeny(/~), miny(/~), moe(/)
Catch(/) a(~) tiger(/~) by(/) the(~) toe(/)
Often the use of trochaic meter is an indication of a switch in tone or voice. Lines of verse that chiefly employ Iambs such as Iambic Pentameter have a sing song quality, and more closely match the natural tendencies of conversational speech. In contrast, trochees come across as more punctuated, authoritative, connotative of power, and finality.
|“|| And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!|
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
The line "Never, never, never, never, never" employs anaphora (repetition) for rhythm in combination with trochaic pentameter. This contrasts the rest of the play which is chiefly in Iambic Pentameter, and accents the finality of Lear's final words.