I came across the word epizeuxis recently (in One of Our Thursdays is Missing, by Jasper Fforde) and wasn’t sure what it meant or even how to pronounce it, so I decided to find out.

According to the OED, epizeuxis (/ɛpɪˈzjuːksɪs/) is “a figure by which a word is repeated with vehemence or emphasis.” It comes via Latin from the Greek ἐπίζευξις (epizeuxis – a fastening upon), from ἐπί (epi – upon) and ζευγνύναι (zeugnunai – to yoke).

Wikipedia says that, “In rhetoric, an epizeuxis is the repetition of words in immediate succession, for vehemence or emphasis” and gives examples such as “O horror, horror, horror.” from Macbeth, and “Education, education, education.” by Tony Blair.

Information about this and other terms used in rhetoric from abating* to zeugma** can be found in the Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric.

* abating in an English version of anesis (/ˈænɪsɪs/), from the Greek ἄνεσις (anesis – a loosening, relaxing, abating) = “adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis.”

** zeugma (/ˈzjuːgmə/), from the Greek ζεῦγμα (zeûgma – yoke) = “A general term describing when one part of speech (most often the main verb, but sometimes a noun) governs two or more other parts of a sentence (often in a series).”

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Greek, Language, Latin, Words and phrases.

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