Repetition (rhetorical device)

Repetition is the simple repeating of a word, within a short space of words (including in a poem), with no particular placement of the words to secure emphasis. It is a multilinguistic written or spoken device, frequently used in English and several other languages, such as Hindi and Chinese, and so rarely termed a figure of speech.

Its forms, many of which are listed below, have varying resonances to listing (forms of enumeration, such as "Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly and lastly..."), as a matter of trite logic often similar in effect.[clarification needed]

Today, as never before, the fates of men are so intimately linked
to one another that a disaster for one is a disaster for everybody.

— A verse from The Little Virtues, 1962 by Natalia Ginzburg, with repetition of disaster


  • Antimetabole is the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order.
"I know what I like, and I like what I know."
  • Tautology is superfluous and simple repetition of the same sense in different words.
"The children gathered in a round circle."
  • Antanaclasis is the repetition of a word or phrase to effect a different meaning.
"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." (Benjamin Franklin)
  • Epizeuxis or palilogia is the repetition of a single word or phrase, with no other words in between. This is derived from Greek for "fastening together".[1]
"Words, words, words." (Hamlet)
  • Conduplicatio is the repetition of a word in various places throughout a paragraph.
"And the world said, 'Disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences'—and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world."[2] (George W. Bush)
  • Anadiplosis is the repetition of the last word of a preceding clause. The word is used at the end of a sentence and then used again at the beginning of the next sentence.[3]
"This, it seemed to him, was the end, the end of a world as he had known it..." (James Oliver Curwood)
  • Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause. It comes from the Greek phrase "carrying up or back".[4]
"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!" Here the words "we shall" are repeated[5] (Winston Churchill)
  • Epistrophe is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of every clause.
"that government of the people, by the people, for the people" (Abraham Lincoln)
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us."[dubious ] (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • Mesodiplosis is the repetition of a word or phrase at the middle of every clause.
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed..." (Second Epistle to the Corinthians)
  • Diaphora is the repetition of a name, first to signify the person or persons it describes, then to signify its meaning. In modern English it has become the standard form of syntax in the example of the personal possessive pronouns given below.[6]
"For your gods are not gods but man-made idols." (The Passion of Saints Sergius and Bacchus)
  • Epanalepsis is the repetition of the initial word or words of a clause or sentence at the end.
"The king is dead, long live the king!"
  • Diacope is repetition of a word or phrase with one or two words between each repeated phrase.

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

— Leo Marks
  • Polyptoton is the repetition of a word derived from the same root in different grammatical forms. In inflected languages, this commonly refers to the repetition of a single word in different grammatical cases.
"Diamond me no diamonds, prize me no prizes" (Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lancelot and Elaine)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nordquist, Richard. "Epizeuxis". Lincoln Financial Group. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  2. ^ "Helen Thomas Asks President Bush Why He Went to War". Democracy Now!. 22 March 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Term: Anadiplosis". White Smoke. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  4. ^ Nordquist, Richard. "Anaphora". Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  5. ^ "BBC History: Fight on the beaches". Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  6. ^ Until 19th century British English the near-universal form for expressing the last recorded words of Saints Sergius and Bacchus without extra stress, now widely deprecated as terse and/or archaic, would be, "For yours are not Gods, (but) (they) (are) man-made idols". The words in brackets expressing options commonly used. In colloquial British English and in much non British-English, the usual form would be "Yours aren't Gods, they're man-made idols".
    Separately, the extra, clear connotation achieved by this diaphora quoted, of which those listening aware of Abrahamic religious would know, is that all Gods (pluralistic Gods) are idols so rejected by any monotheistic religion.