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Coined by George Gascoigne in 1576, because it was said that poulters gave 12 eggs for the first dozen and 14 if you bought a second dozen.


poulter's measure (plural poulter's measures)

  1. (poetry) A metre with alternate lines of 12 and 14 syllables.
    • 1547, Earl Surrey: Complaint on the absence of her lover being at sea.
      Good ladies, ye that have your pleasure in exile
      Step in your foot, come take a place and mourn with me awhile.
      And such as by their lords do set but little price,
      Let them sit still, it skills them not what chance come on the dice.


  • Consise Oxford: 7th Ed.
  • Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 17th Ed