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Exploring the Meaning, Functions, and Examples of Epizeuxis
Epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or phrase in instant succession, usually within the same sentence, for emphasis or intensity. It helps create an emotional appeal, enlightening and motivating your audience, and adds a comic effect to your writing. A closely associated literary device is the diacope, which repeats words or phrases separated by one or a few words. In this article, we explore the functions and notable examples of epizeuxis.
Functions of epizeuxis
Epizeuxis instantly repeats the same word, providing efficient, tenacious emphasis. This emphasis can make a point vivid, allowing writers to focus on and share their opinion clearly for their audience to understand. For example, "What makes the world go round? The answer is three things: money, money, money." Here, the repetition accentuates the writer's opinion.
Epizeuxis can become a crowd chant that orators can use to rally their crowd and make their message remarkable and recitable. A good example is the three-word slogans of political campaigns like "Yes, we can" and "Build the wall."
The emphasis created by epizeuxis can help reinforce the implication of a word that may otherwise be lost on your audience. For example, "He became a billionaire, but he failed his final exams twice, twice!" Here, by repeating the word "twice," readers' attention is drawn to this fact, reinforcing its implication.
Epizeuxis also helps to emphasize a mood. For example, "She is dead, dead, dead." The repetition here emphasizes the grim reality and evokes a dark aura. It can also create humor, often by repeating a silly word or phrase. For example, "He said I shouldn't call you a sucker, sucker."
Epizeuxis is a straightforward and powerful literary device, which is also why you should employ it sparingly. Used too often, it will make your writing seem frantic and a bit too much, wasting its efficacy.
Examples of epizeuxis in literature
Here are some famous examples of epizeuxis in notable writings:
1. Tom Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965). “Phil Spector tamps his frontal lobes and closes his eyes and holds his breath. As long as he holds his breath, it will not rain, there will be no raindrops, no schizoid water wobbling, sideways, straight back, it will be an even, even, even, even, even, even, even world.”
2. Dorothy Parker, Coda. “There’s little in taking or giving, / There’s little in water or wine; / This living, this living, this living / Was never a project of mine.”
3. William Shakespeare, King Lear (1783). “And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life! / Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, / And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more, / Never, never, never, never!”
4. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline (1623). “Hark, hark! The lark at heaven’s gate sings, / And Phoebus gins arise, / His steeds to water at those springs / On chaliced flowers that lies; / And winking Mary-buds begin / To open their golden eyes: / With everything that pretty is, / My lady sweet, arise: / Arise, arise!”
5. Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854). "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail."
Tom Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1965.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen