a. A metrical foot consisting of one accented syllable followed by two unaccented, as in flattery.
b. A metrical foot in quantitative verse consisting of one long syllable followed by two short syllables.
2. A finger, toe, or similar part or structure; a digit.
[Middle English dactil, from Latin dactylus, from Greek daktulos, finger, toe, dactyl (the three syllables of a dactyl being likened to the three phalanges of a finger ).]
dac·tylic (-tĭlĭk) adj. & n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.