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Words or their meanings are arranged in a structured order or they are deliberately misplaced from the order that is expected.



Anadiplosis (an’-a-di-plo’-sis) is the repetition of a word or phrase that ends one clause and begins the next. “Though Nature hath given us wit to flout at Fortune, hath not Fortune sent in this fool to cut off the argument?” As You Like It, 1.2.31. Extended anadiplosis is called gradatio.



Anastrophe (an-as’-tro-phee) is a type of hyperbaton in which usually only a single word is misplaced or reversed from it expected order. Most often the adjective appears after the noun when we expect to find it before the noun. “Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, / By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams, / To set my brother Clarence and the King / In deadly hate.” Richard III, 1.1.1.



Bathos is the placement of the least important item in a series anticlimactically at the end where the reader expects something dramatic. It is usually used humorously. “I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle’s.” Much Ado About Nothing. 5.2.95. See Climax.



Catachresis (kat-a-kree’-sis) is an implied or mixed metaphor, in which usually a verb or adjective are misapplied to the noun they reference. “Lent him our terror, dressed him with our love,” Measure for Measure. 1.1.3. Related to hyperbole and synaesthesia.



Chiasmus (ki-az’-mus) is the repetition of two corresponding phrases arranged in a parallel inverse order. The second half is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” Macbeth 1.1.1.  Related to antimetabole, in which the two pairs suggest opposing or opposite meanings. Also similar to epanados, which also repeats the terms after presenting them.



Climax (cli’-max) is the arrangement of items in order of increasing importance, (also called auxesis and crescendo). “If thou would have such a one, take me. And take me, take a soldier. Take a soldier, take a king. And what say’st thou then to my love?” Henry V, 5.2.138. A variation is bathos, in which items in as series build to an anticlimax.



Gradatio is an extended form of anadiplosis. Each clause or phrase ends with a word that starts the next clause or phrase in ascending order, leading to a climax. “My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, / And every tongue brings in a several tale, / And every tale condemns me for a villain.” Richard III, 5.3.189.



Hypallage (hy-pal’-la-ge) is a classical term for transferred epithet.



Hyperbaton (hy-per’-ba-ton) is the altering of normal or expected word order, or the separation of words that belong together. See also anastrophe“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.” Measure for Measure, 2.1.41.



Hysteron-Proteron (his’-ter-on pro’-ter-on) is a type of hyperbaton in which the disorder is not chronological, i.e., something that should happen second, happens first. “Th’ Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral, / With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder.” Antony and Cleopatra, 3.10.1. Using anastrophe in a way that creates a catachresis; an impossible ordering on the literal level.



Isocolon (i-so-co’-lon) is a generic term for two or more clauses of equal length and parallel syntax and rhythm. When there are more than two, the figure can be more specifically named (though they are not in the quotes on this website) tricolons, tetracolons, etc. “My gorgeous palace for a hermitage, / My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown, / My figured goblets for a dish of wood, / My scepter for a palmer’s walking-staff, / My subjects for a pair of carvèd saints.” Richard II, 3.3.148. This quote from Richard II strings five clauses of parallel syntax in sequence and, because the clauses all begin with the same word, this is also an example of anaphora.

Transferred Epithet


Transferred epithets are adjectives that should properly modify one word but is shifted to another word in the same sentence. “The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,” Romeo and Juliet, 1P.1