Antistasis, also known as antanadasis, is a powerful literary technique that has been used by poets for centuries. It involves the repetition of a word or phrase in order to create emphasis and rhyme. 

E.g. An example of antistasis is: "Nothing can be made out of nothing,” a line from William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

This technique is especially useful when the poet wants to emphasize a point or convey a strong emotion. It is a useful literary technique that can help readers focus on the main point of the poem and give it a sense of continuity.

Antistasis Definition and Examples

Antistasis Definition

Antistasis is a literary device used to emphasize or create repetition in a piece of writing, most often poetry. This device involves the repetition of a word or phrase in order to create rhyme and emphasis on an idea. Antistasis is a powerful tool for poets to emphasize their message and create an impactful rhythm and flow.

Antistasis is a literary device in which a word or phrase is repeated, often with a different meaning each time it’s used. It can also be used to create a rhyme or emphasis in writing. This repetition of words allows writers to emphasize particular ideas or topics. Antistasis is often used in poetry, where repeated words can help to create a rhythm and mood

How is Antistasis Used? 

Antistasis can be used in a number of different ways. For example, the same word can be repeated with a different meaning, such as the phrase “all for one and one for all.” It can also be used to create rhymes, such as repeating a word at the end of successive lines, such as “falling,” “calling,” and “stalling.” Finally, it can be used to add emphasis to a particular idea by repeating the same phrase or word several times in succession.

Examples of Antistasis

It’s fairly easy to find or even come up with examples of antistasis. They’re commonly found in novels, poems, and even advertisements. Often, writers enjoy the play on words that make readers think just a little bit harder about an idea or phrase. For example, “When you get it, you get it,” an advertising slogan used by the car manufacturer Subaru. Here are a few examples from literature: 

Sonnet 135 by William Shakespeare 

This is a very well-known Shakespearean sonnet in which William Shakespeare uses the word “will” in many different ways. Here are the final four lines from Sonnet 135.’ 

So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will

One will of mine, to make thy large Will more.

Let no unkind no fair beseechers kill;

Think all but one, and me in that one Will.

This poem is particularly famous in Shakespeare’s series of 154 sonnets for its use of antistasis. The poet uses the word “will” (uppercase and lowercase) thirteen times. It’s used as part of a long, sexual innuendo in which the poet’s speaker (usually thought to be the poet himself because of the repetition of the word/name “Will”) flatters someone he wants to sleep with and tries to convince her to give into him. 

King Lear by William Shakespeare 

William Shakespeare’s plays are often the source of the most common and obscure literary terms. Consider these lines from King Lear that feature a great example of antistasis: 

Kent: This is nothing, Fool.

Fool: Then tis like the breath of an unfee’d lawyer–you gave me nothing for’t. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?

Lear: Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing.

The famous phrase, “nothing can be made out of nothing,” comes from this section of the play. The word “nothing” is repeated several times with different meanings and intentions, adding depth and meaning to the lines.

Read William Shakespeare’s poems.  

The Impact of Antistasis

The purpose of antistasis is to emphasize certain words or phrases in a poem or other written piece. By repeating the same word or phrase, it increases the emphasis given to that particular word or phrase and allows the reader to better understand its importance. By doing this, the writer can create a stronger impact on their audience and communicate their point more effectively.

Antistasis is often used to create a poetic device known as rhyme. Rhyme helps to give a poem structure, making it easier for readers to remember and understand the poem’s message. In addition, rhyme can help to create a certain tone in a poem, giving it a more lyrical quality and helping to convey the poet’s emotions. By using antistasis, writers are able to create an effective form of rhyme that adds emphasis to their writing.

Furthermore, antistasis can be used to draw attention to a particular idea or theme within a piece of writing. By repeating certain words or phrases, the writer is able to drive home the main idea or theme of the work and make it more memorable for the reader. This technique can also be used to create a dramatic or emotional effect on the audience. 


Why is antistasis important?

Antistasis is a useful literary term that is important due to the way that it transforms readers’ understanding of an individual word. It allows writers to be incredibly creative in their use of language. 

What is an example of antistasis? 

An example of antistasis is “Nothing can be made out of nothing,” a line from William Shakespeare’s King Lear. It uses the word “nothing” in two different ways. 

What does the word “antistasis” mean? 

The word “antistasis” comes from the Greek meaning “opposite.” This connects to how it’s used today. Examples of antistasis are seen when a word’s meaning changes, usually to something quite the opposite of its original intention. 

Related Literary Terms 

  • Anadiplosis: the repetition of words so that the second clause starts with the same word/s that appeared in the previous.
  • Anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines, usually in succession.
  • Diacope: a literary term that refers to the repetition of a word or phrase.
  • Epistrophe: the repetition of the same word or a phrase at the end of multiple clauses or sentences.

Other Resources 

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