Scholars joke that the three R's of rhetoric are repetition, repetition and repetition. An orator's success in part depends on an auditor's ability to understand and remember what the orator said. That is enhanced if an orator adheres to the old adage, “Tell them what you're you're going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said.” From this principle, a plethora of rhetorical devices evolved rooted in the art of repetition.
Alliteration (al-lit’-er-a’-shen) is the repetition of an initial, stressed consonant sound for two or more words. “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought…” Sonnet 30. Alliteration is different from consonance, which is the repetition of a consonant sound on stressed or unstressed syllables that are not always at the beginnings of words. The repetition of “s” sounds, alliterative or consonant, is called sibilance.
Anaphora (an-af’-o-ra) is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences. “O, cursèd be the hand that made these holes; / Cursèd the heart that had the heart to do it; / Cursèd the blood that let this blood from hence.” Richard III, 1.2.1 See also mesodiplosis, the repetition of words in the middle, and epistrophe, the repetition of words at the end.
Antimetabole (an’-ti-me-ta’-bo-lee) is the repetition of words or phrases in an inverted or reverse order in which the phrases suggest opposing meanings. “How / much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!” Much Ado About Nothing. 1.1.13. Antimetabole is a type of chiasmus, which is a similar inversion but of actual words whose meanings are not necessarily opposite. Chiasmus is similar to epanados, which also repeats the terms after presenting them.
Assonance (ass’-o-nance) it the repetition or similarity of the same internal vowel sound in words of close proximity. “Beauty’s ensign yet / Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks.” Romeo and Juliet. 5.3.73
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.
Consonance is the repetition of a consonant sound, but unlike alliteration the consonant does not always occur on the stressed syllable at the beginning of the word. “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles / And, by opposing, end them.” Hamlet, 3.1.64. The “s” sounds occur at the beginning, middle and ends of words, both stressed and unstressed. The repetition of an “s” sound in lines like this is also called sibilance.
Diacope (di-a’-co-pee) is the close repetition of words broken by one or two intervening words. “Done like a Frenchman: turn and turn again.” Henry VI Pt. 1, 3.3.17.
Epanados (e-pan’-o-dos) is the repetition of the chief points in a discourse, especially in reverse order of that in which they were previously treated. “Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war / How to divide the conquest of thy sight. / Mine eye my heart thy picture’s sight would bar, / My heart mine eye the freedom of that right. / My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie, ” Sonnet 46. It is a type of chiasmus, which is the inversion of the verbal structure of phrases using the same words. Also similar to antimetabole, in which the two phrases are not just inverted but suggest opposing meanings.
Epanalepsis is the repetition at the end of a clause of the word that occurred at the beginning of the clause. Repetition of words after intervening words for emphasis, or the repetition of words at beginning and end of line, phrase, clause, or sentence. “Romans, countrymen, and lovers, hear me for my cause, and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may believe.” Julius Caesar, 3.2.14
Epimone (e-pi’-mo-nee) is the repetition of a phrase or question; dwelling on a point. “Remember thee? / Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat / In this distracted globe. Remember thee?” Hamlet, 1.5.99.
Epistrophe (e-pis’-tro-fee) is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses, lines, or sentences. “Is it possible he should know what he is, and be that he is?” All’s Well That Ends Well, 4.1.45. See also anaphora, the repetition of words at the beginning, and mesodiplosis, the repetition of words in the middle.
Epizeuxis (e-pi-zook’-sis) is the repetition of words or phrases without intervening words. “O horror, horror, horror! / Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee! Macbeth, 2.3.73.
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.
Mesodiplosis (mes-o-dip-lo’-sis) is the repetition of the same word or words in the middle of successive sentences or phrases. “But till that time / Come not thou near me. / And when that time comes, \ Afflict me with thy mocks, pity me not, / As till that time I shall not pity thee.” As You Like It, 3.5.39. See also anaphora, the repetition of words at the beginnings, and epistrophe, the repetition of words at the end.
Polysyndeton is the repetition of conjunctions in a series of coordinate words, phrases, or clauses. “Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, / Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, / Can be retentive to the strength of spirit.” Julius Caesar, 1.3.92. See asyndeton, which omits all conjunctions between words or phrases in a series.
Rhyme is the repetition of vowel/consonant sounds that differ only in their initial consonant sounds, e.g., find, kind, mind. “She red and hot as coals of glowing fire, / He red for shame, but frosty in desire.” Venus and Adonis, Line 35
Symploce is the repetition of a sentence with one or two words in the middle changed, e.g. Saint Paul wrote, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I,” (2 Corinthians 11:22)
Synonymia is the stringing together a series of synonyms to emphasise a point. “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable / Seem to me all the uses of this world!” Hamlet, 1.2.133