Anadiplosis refers to the repetition of words so that the second clause starts with the same word/s that appeared in the previous.
Anadiplosis works in a predictable pattern with repetition marking the end and beginning of the two linked clauses. For example, “When I live, I live for myself” in which the word “live” is repeated at the end of the first clause and at the beginning of the second.
Definition of Anadiplosis
Anadiplosis is a type of repetition that can appear anywhere. It’s found in children and adult literature as well as famous speeches and everyday conversations on the street. There are many well-known passages of the Bible that contain examples as well. Writers choose to use this technique in order to add emphasis to a very important part of a sentence. Through its repetition, the reader is asked to consider it twice. The technique also adds to the overall rhythm of the line, creating more poetic-sounding prose when it’s used in novels and short stories, as well as speeches, and papers, etc.
When using anadiplosis, a writer can choose to repeat one word or several words, and those words might appear immediately next to one another or be spaced apart slightly by a few adjacent words. For example, these lines from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare:
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon […]
In these lines, anadiplosis occurs with the repetition of the word “sun” at the very end of the first line and as the third word in the second line. You can read more William Shakespeare poetry here.
Examples of Anadiplosis in Literature
The Holy Bible, Peter 1:5-7
As mentioned above, the Bible is a great place to look for examples of anadiplosis. Consider these lines and how the writer connects phrases through the use of the technique.
[…]you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.
In these lines, “goodness,” “self-control,” and “godliness” are used to connect other examples, including “knowledge” and “endurance.”
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Nabokov’s controversial novel, Lolita, is the source of the following line that contains an example of anadiplosis.
What I present here is what I remember of the letter, and what I remember of the letter I remember verbatim (including that awful French).
Here, the writer uses “what I remember of the letter” to connect the two clauses. This is a great example of how anadiplosis can be used to make prose writing feel more poetic.
Isles of Greece by Lord Byron
In this lesser-known poem, ‘Isles of Greece,’ by Lord Byron, the poet uses anadiplosis at the beginning of the third stanza. He’s been speaking about the isles of Greece, making allusions to Greek mythology, and he uses these lines:
The mountains look on Marathon—
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream’d that Greece might still be free;
The word “Marathon” is repeated at the end of the first line and the beginning of the second. Through the depiction of Marathon looking out at the sea and the mountains looking on Marathon, the poet is able to make the entire setting feel more alive.
Read more of Lord Byron’s poetry.
In this well-loved poem by William Butler Yeats, the poet uses anadiplosis more than once. It appears in the first line of the poem which reads:
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
Here, he uses “go” at the end and beginning of the first two clauses. Then, later on in the poem, at the beginning of the second stanza, he uses the technique again:
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Here, Yeats uses “peace” as an example of anadiplosis.
Read more William Butler Yeats poems.
Why Do Writers Use Anadiplosis?
Writers use anadiplosis for a number of reasons. Most prominently, in order to convey an idea with added emphasis. When a word or phrase is repeated, the reader can’t help but feel its importance. This can also help create a rhythm to the lines that especially effective in speeches. Writers might also use anadiplosis in order to string together common ideas related to the repeated phrase. For example, using “if you” to start and end clauses directed at changing behavior.
Anadiplosis and Antimetabole
Anadiplosis is also related to antimetabole, a figure of speech that reverses the first words in a clause from one sentence to the next. For example, “Live to eat, don’t eat to live” or the related phrase “Work to live, don’t live to work.”
Antimetabole reflects one phrase across two clauses. It’s not dissimilar from what anadiplosis does to two clauses except that its focus is on a reversal of the first phrase.
Related Literary Terms
- Chiasmus: a rhetorical device that occurs when the grammatical structure of a previous phrase or clause is reversed or flipped.
- Anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines, usually in succession.
- Epistrophe: the repetition of the same word, or a phrase, at the end of multiple clauses or sentences.
- Repetition: an important literary technique that sees a writer reuse words or phrases multiple times.