Anadiplosis \Rhetorical Repetition

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

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Anadiplosis is a rhetorical term for the repetition of the last word or phrase of one line or clause to begin the next. Also known as duplicatio, reduplicatio, and redouble.

Anadiplosis often leads to climax (see gradatio). Note that a chiasmus includes anadiplosis, but not every anadiplosis reverses itself in the manner of a chiasmus.


From the Greek "doubling back"

Examples and Observations

  • "We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
    (Henry James, "The Middle Years." Scribner's Magazine, 1893)
  • "All service ranks the same with God,
    With God, whose puppets, best and worst,
    Are we."
    (Robert Browning, Pippa Passes)
  • "Sense is beaten into people by unhappiness, and that takes time, and time disfigures you."
    (Saul Bellow, More Die of Heartbreak. William Morrow, 1987)
  • "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you."
    (Frank Oz as Yoda in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menance)
  • "At six o'clock we were waiting for coffee,
    waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb . . ."
    (Elizabeth Bishop, "A Miracle for Breakfast")
  • "When I give I give myself."
    (Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself")
  • "I need y'all to be really, really quiet for this. I need you to really understand what I'm telling you. Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama's running so we all can fly."
    (Jay-Z at the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia. Reported in The Guardian, November 5, 2008)
  • "The years to come seemed waste of breath,
    waste of breath the years behind."
    (William Butler Yeats, "An Irish Airman Foresees his Death,")
  • "Aboard my ship, excellent performance is standard. Standard performance is sub-standard. Sub-standard performance is not permitted to exist."
    (Queeg in The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk)
  • "The laughter had to be gross or it would turn to sobs, and to sob would be to realize, and to realize would be to despair."
    (Howard Griffin, Black Like Me, 1961)
  • "The land of my fathers. My fathers can have it."
    (Dylan Thomas on Wales)
  • "I am Sam, Sam I am."
    (Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham, 1960)
  • "She being none of your flesh and blood, your flesh and blood has not offended the king; and so your flesh and blood is not to be punished by him."
    (Clown in Act Four, scene 4 of The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare)
  • "Only the brave deserve the fair and the fair deserve Jaeger."
    (advertising slogan for Jaeger Sportswear)
  • "The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. Striking story!"
    (Commodus in the movie Gladiator, 2000)
  • "One well-established fact is that polarization in Congress maps onto one measure better than any other: economic inequality. The smaller the gap between rich and poor, the more moderate our politicians; the greater the gap, the greater the disagreement between liberals and conservatives. The greater the disagreement between liberals and conservatives, the less Congress is able to get done; the less Congress gets done, the greater the gap between rich and poor. That’s not bad math. That’s what happens when the kitchen’s on fire and all you’ve got is matches."
    (Jill Lepore, "Long Division." The New Yorker, December 2, 2013)
  • "Trying Skying" by Reverend M. Sheeleigh
    In this 19th-century poem, anadiplosis serves to link all 16 lines.
    Long I looked into the sky,
    Sky aglow with gleaming stars,
    Stars that stream their courses high,
    High and grand, those golden cars,
    Cars that ever keep their track,
    Track untraced by human ray,
    Ray that zones the zodiac,
    Zodiac with milky-way,
    Milky-way where worlds are sown,
    Sown like sands along the sea,
    Sea whoso tide and tone e'er own,
    Own a feeling to be free,
    Free to leave its lowly place,
    Place to prove with yonder spheres,
    Spheres that trace athrough all space,
    Space and years--unspoken years.
    This version of "Trying Skying" originally appeared in Gleanings From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, Science and Art: A Melange of Excerpta, Curious, Humorous, and Instructive, edited by Charles C. Bombaugh (T. Newton Kurtz, 1860).
  • George Herbert's Use of Anadiplosis in "Justice"
    "[George] Herbert uses a great variety of poetical and rhetorical techniques to embody [the] sense of the gap between the human and the divine. 'Justice' has two stanzas, juxtaposing the ways of God and man. The first verse is organized around the figure anadiplosis, where a word in (or, more usually, ending) one clause or sentence is repeated in the one following:
    I cannot skill of these thy wayes.
    Lord, thou didst make me, yet thou woundest me;
    Lord, thou dost wound me, yet thou dost relieve me:
    Lord, thou relievest, yet I die by thee:
    Lord, thou dost kill me, yet thou dost reprieve me.
    There the whole paradoxical movement in Christian belief, from the Creation to the Fall to Redemption, is expressed in the series of interlinked verbs, the coherence of the rhetorical structure showing the coherence of God's underlying plan."
    (Brian Vickers, "Rhetoric." The Cambridge Companion to English Poetry, Donne to Marvell, ed. by Thomas N. Corns. Cambridge University Press, 1993)
  • Variations
    "If you can't fly, run; if you can't run, walk; if you can't walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving."
    (Martin Luther King, Jr., "Keep Moving From This Mountain," commencement address at Spelman College, April 10, 1960)

    "Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
    (proverb, original source unknown)

    "When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let's all get drunk and go to heaven."
    (Brian O'Rourke)
  • Anadiplosis in Film
    "In the strict filmic anadiplosis, the same image ends one scene as begins the next. A pen, for example, points on a plan of staterooms to B46, and this dissolves to the door of the room with B46 on it (Champagne, Alfred Hitchcock).

    "Boss Geddes threatens to publish the fact that Kane has a mistress, unless he withdraws as a candidate for governor. Kane refuses. Geddes and Kane's wife have just emerged from the house where the mistress lives. The wife goes off right and Geddes left, leaving the lighted double doors and the number above them--185. The tone changes from dark gray to light, and we pull back to see the doors now on the front page of a newspaper, exposing Kane's 'lovenest.' The repeated image is stronger, from a cause-effect relation: the scandal as a consequence of Kane's refusal (Citizen Kane, Orson Welles)."
    (N. Roy Clifton, The Figure in Film. Associated University Presses, 1983)


Pronunciation: anna di PLO sis