Tuesday Terminology: Anaphora

There’s power in repetition. The chorus of a song often gets stuck in our heads. Marketers make sure we know the slogan for their particular product (e.g., “Just do it,” “Think different,” “Where’s the beef?”). Speech writers have relied on repeating words and phrases for millennia. Repetition can add power to any writing if used with skill.

One way this can succeed is through a device called anaphora. There’s a particularly powerful speech by Mark Anthony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act 3, Scene 2) that really gets to the heart of what an effective anaphora is. Anthony repeats the phrase “For Brutus is an honorable man” throughout in such a way that it slowly leads the listener to the exact opposite conclusion.

So, an exact definition? An anaphora is the repetition of word or phrase at the beginning of several neighboring clauses.

Banish the thought. Banish the idea. Banish the very instinct. But do not banish the man.

Anyone know of some famous examples? [Hint: Winston Churchill had some good ones.]


One thought on “Tuesday Terminology: Anaphora

  1. – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. ~ Churchill 😉

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