The term "reel" may also refer to the dance itself, which is an important dance step in the repertoire of Irish stepdancers. Reel can also refer to a country dance that is performed in figures. The second meaning is more common in Scottish music, as well as American Southern old time music.
A reel is in 4/4 time (also known as common meter), but when sheet music is written out, reels are occasionally written in 2/2 time instead (also known as cut time, which simply emphasizes the beats in a different way and can emphasize liveliness). The accented beats in a reel are beats 1 and 3, and phrases are generally (but not always) repeated in eight-bar increments.