Are both syllables of "spondee" stressed in English?

(Are there online dictionaries which record secondary stress? I couldn't find any just now...)

1 Answer 1


Taken from the list of entries indexed by OneLook, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language shows a primary stress on the first syllable of "spondee" and a minor stress on the second syllable (they use a private use area character to represent the primary stress mark; replacing that with a double prime, the AHD transcription is spŏn″dē′).

I take the term "minor stress" from Balogné Bérces Katalin's "The Pronunciation of English".

The term "secondary stress", the concept itself, and the transcription of it differs among different linguistic sources. There is a summary of different approaches in the Wikipedia article "Stress and vowel reduction in English". Some linguists, such as John Wells, would say that the second syllable of "spondee" is unstressed, but contains (or potentially contains) a "strong" vowel (see the blog post "strong and weak", 2011), in contrast to a word like pretty where the final vowel is "weak" (as shown by the preceding /t/'s susceptibility to lenition in American English).

To answer the question in the title, "Is spondee itself a spondee?", I would not describe it that way. (Frankly, I don't think "spondee" is particularly useful in any context when discussing English stress or poetic meter.) To my ears, it makes for a workable rhyme with "blondie", despite the potential slight difference in the pronunciation.

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