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What is Diacope? Types, Functions and Examples

Diacope is a rhetorical and literary device where repeated words are separated by a single or few intervening words. Derived from the Greek word “thiakhop,” meaning “cutting in two, ” this device can be used to create emphatic, persuasive, and rhythmic effects in writing and oratory. In this article, we explore the types, functions, and examples of diacope in writing.

3 types of diacope in writing

You can use a diacope in writing in three ways:

1. Vocative diacope: This diacope requires separating the repeated words by nouns of direct address. The word interfering between the repetition can be a name, pronoun, or plural noun, which appears in the vocative case, addressing a specific person or group of people. An excellent example of a vocative diacope can be seen in Act 4 Scene 15 of Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare. There, Antony cries, “I am dying, Egypt, dying.” 

2. Elaborative diacope: This diacope usage enhances or clarifies the meaning of the repeated word or phrase by employing an adjective or another interpretive word between the repeated words. Consider this sentence, “I am going home, my blissful home." Here, the adjective "blissful" tells readers more about the repeated word — "home."

3. Extended diacope: Here, the repeated word appears more than twice, creating explicit emphasis. For example, "I am going home, my blissful home, my comfortable home, my expensive home, my elegant home. And I am never leaving home again.

Functions of diacope in writing

Diacope structure can communicate heightened emotions. Consider this statement, "He is a killer, a mindless, ruthless killer. " We can see that the elaborative diacope employed here magnifies the level of hatred and disgust the speaker harbors towards the killer.

It also helps writers make their opinion and ideas more persuasive and appealing to readers, creating a striking emotional impression that's hard to ignore. For example, "All we need in life is love, from the womb we crave love, the nutrient for growth is love, and close to the tomb, all that matters is love." 

Examples of diacope

Here are some examples of diacope that demonstrates its usage in writing:

1. Joyce Cary, Art & Reality, (1958). "It is the tragedy of the world that no one knows what he doesn't know; and the less a man knows, the more sure he is that he knows everything." 

2. Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King, (1959). "Of course, in an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too." 

3. Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (1864 - 1865). "I hate to be poor, and we are degradingly poor, offensively poor, miserably poor, beastly poor."

4. Quentin Crisp, Manners From Heaven, (1984). "It is explained that all relationships require a little give and take. This is untrue. Any partnership demands that we give and give and give and at the last, as we flop into our graves exhausted, we are told that we didn't give enough."

5. Russell Baker, Growing Up, (1982). "He wore prim vested suits with neckties blocked primly against the collar buttons of his primly starched white shirts. He had a primly pointed jaw, a primly straight nose, and a prim manner of speaking that was so correct, so gentlemanly, that he seemed a comic antique."



Joyce Cary, Art & Reality, Commonwealth Publishers, 1958.

Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King, Viking Press, 1959.

Quentin Crisp, John Hofsess, Manners From Heaven, Harper & Row, 1984.

Russell Baker, Growing Up, Congdon & Weed, 1982.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen