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Understanding Epizeuxis: Definition and Examples of Epizeuxis

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 13, 2020 • 1 min read

Sometimes, the best way to make your point is through repetition. Writers use epizeuxis as a way to emphasize or underline a word or phrase, increasing its power and memorability.



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What Is Epizeuxis?

The definition of epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or phrase in quick succession. This rhetorical device, also known as “palilogia,” is designed to add increased emphasis or vehemence to the repeated word or phrase. Epizeuxis comes from the Greek word epizeugnumi, which means “fastening together.”

5 Examples of Epizeuxis

Here are some famous examples of epizeuxis in literature, oration, and popular culture:

  1. Macbeth by William Shakespeare: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time…”
  2. Hamlet by William Shakespeare: “Words, words, words.”
  3. King Lear by William Shakespeare: “Never, never, never, never, never!”
  4. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: “The horror,! The horror!"
  5. Winston Churchill: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

What Are Diacope, Anaphora, and Epistrophe?

There are a handful of literary devices and rhetorical terms that are closely related to the epizeuxis, but slightly different in execution. These are:

  • Diacope: Diacope is a rhetorical device that involves the repetition of words, separated by a small number of intervening words. An example from the James Bond films is the line, “Bond. James Bond.” Learn more about diacope in our guide here.
  • Anaphora: Anaphora is a figure of speech that involves the immediate repetition of words at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences. With anaphora, the repetition of the word or phrase continues onto the following lines. The following Winston Churchill quote is an example of anaphora: “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans.” Find out more about anaphora here.
  • Epistrophe: Epistrophe refers to the repetition of a word or short phrase at the end of consecutive clauses or sentences. Take this Abraham Lincoln quote, for example: “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
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