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What is Anadiplosis? Meaning, Functions and Examples

Anadiplosis employs repetition in creating impressive effects in writing. This literary device makes your prose sound more conversational and engaging. It also makes speeches and poetry powerful, evocative and rhythmic. In this article, we examine the meaning of anadiplosis and how it creates remarkable effects in notable works of literature.

What is anadiplosis?

Anadiplosis is a rhetorical and literary device where a word or phrase at the end of a clause reappears at the beginning of the subsequent clause. This repetition can occur between successive sentences as well. The word comes from a Greek word, anadíplōsis, meaning "doubling" or "repetition." It helps create emphasis by repeating crucial words or phrases and links a common theme across several clauses. Employing anadiplosis allows you to create an extra pause in reading through several clauses, breaking what would otherwise be a straightforward series of clauses. This adds rhythm to sentences and makes them more interesting to read.

Effects of anadiplosis

Anadiplosis helps make writing more persuasive, which is why this device commonly features in speech writing, allowing orators to persuade and impress their ideas on their audience. It creates a style that provides cadence and rhythm in poetry and makes prose read more naturally, similar to how people talk.

A great example of a persuasive use of anadiplosis is visible in this quote from Jesse Jackson's speech at the Democratic National Convention of 1988:

"Suffering breeds character; character breeds faith; in the end, faith will not disappoint."

The repetition creates a coherent and comprehensive statement, making it more powerful and impressive. Without anadiplosis, it would read thus: "Suffering breeds character, which breeds faith; which in the end will not disappoint." This statement clearly doesn't carry the persuasive force of the former.

When it comes to creating rhythm in lyrics and poetry, anadiplosis is very helpful. Consider The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe:

"While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door."

The repetition of "rapping" helped create a beautiful rhythm in this verse. Otherwise, it would have read, "And someone gently rapping at my chamber door," and the cadence wouldn't be present.

Also, it is natural in everyday conversation for people to repeat words. And anadiplosis helps writers create this stylistic effect in writing prose. It also creates realistic, lifelike dialogues that readers find engaging. Consider this excerpt from Jamaica Kincaid's Biography of a Dress:

"And then that one day, that one day after Mr. Porter's life advanced and exploded on the page, I had to have my lunch..."

From this passage, we get the feeling of Kincaid speaking naturally to her audience, which makes her writing more fascinating and compelling.

Examples of anadiplosis in literature

Here are more examples of anadiplosis in notable literature that further demonstrates the beauty of this literary device: 

1. Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet (1964). “Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern and then you go on into some action.” 

2. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (1866). "Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or thinks, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once. Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!"

3. William Shakespeare, Richard II (1623). "The love of wicked men converts to fear; that fear to hate; and hate turns one, or both, to worthy danger, and deserved death."



Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018.

Wikipedia, Anadiplosis,

Jamaica Kincaid, Biography of a Dress, Grand Street, 1992

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen