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8 Essential Types of Repetition

Repetition is a literary device where the same word, phrase, or clause occurs multiple times in a speech or writing. Orators are famous for using repetition. But writers of all kinds also employ repetition in fiction and other genres of literature, drawing readers' attention to the emphasis it allows them to create. In this article, we discuss eight types of repetition with examples.

Function of repetition

Repetition is a preferred tool among speakers and writers equally because it can help to accentuate a point and make an expression easier to follow. It also makes a statement more persuasive and rhythmic, making it more memorable.

Types of repetition

There are many types of repetition, and here is a list of the essential ones:

1. Anaphora: Anaphora is a literary device that repeats a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. For example:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859)

2. Epiphora: Epiphora is the opposite of anaphora. This literary device repeats a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences. For example:

"Sweet Portia, If you did know to whom I gave the ring, If you did know for whom I gave the ring And would conceive for what I gave the ring And how unwillingly I left the ring, When nought would be accepted but the ring, You would abate the strength of your displeasure." (William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, 16 century)

3. Epimone: Epimone is a literary device that frequently repeats a phrase, statement, or question to emphasize a focal point or argument. For example:

"Put money in thy purse; follow thou the wars; defeat thy favor with a usurped beard; I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor — put money in thy purse — nor he, his to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration: put but money in thy purse." (William Shakespeare, Othello, 1603)

4. Diacope: Diacope is a literary device where repeated words are divided by a few interfering words. For example: 

“I hate to be poor, and we are degradingly poor, offensively poor, miserably poor, beastly poor.” (Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, 1864)

5. Conduplicatio: Conduplicatio refers to the repetition of a crucial word or words over successive phrases or clauses. For example:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-10)

6. Antistasis: Antistasis refers to the repetition where the second meaning is different or opposite to the first meaning. For example:

"In the stories we tell ourselves, we tell ourselves." (Michael Martone, The Flatness and Other Landscapes. University of Georgia Press, 2000)

7. Epizeuxis: Epizeuxis refers to the repetition of a word or phrase in quick succession. For example:

"For a nation which has an almost evil reputation for bustle, bustle, bustle, and rush, rush, rush, we spend an enormous amount of time standing around in line in front of windows, just waiting." (Robert Benchley, "Back in Line." Benchley — or Else! 1947)

8. Polyptoton: Polyptoton refers to repeating words that share the same root but with different endings. For example: 

"I have no sharp taste for acquiring things, but it is not necessary to desire things in order to acquire them." (E. B. White, "Goodbye to Forty-Eighth Street." Essays of E. B. White. Harper, 1977)

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen