Rhetorical Devices: Diacope

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link.

Device: Diacope

Origin: From the Greek διακοπή (thiakhopi), meaning “cut in two”.

In plain English: Repetition of a word or phrase broken up by another word or words.

Effect:

  • The repeated words are emphasized.

Notes:

  • For maximum effect, there should not be too many words between the repeated word(s) in a diacope.
  • Diacope is similar to epanalepsis. In the latter, the repeated words are at the beginning and end of a sentence. The last quote, by Denzel Washington, is both a diacope and epanalepsis.

Examples:

They will laugh, indeed they will laugh, at his parchment and his wax.”

— Edmund Burke, 1796

———

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

—  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina,  1877

———

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, Almighty, we are free at last!

— Martin Luther King, Jr., 28 August 1963

———

“The people everywhere, not just here in Britain, everywhere — they kept faith with Princess Diana. They liked her, they loved her, they regarded her as one of the people. She was the people’s princess. And that’s how she will stay, how she will remain, in our hearts and in our memories, forever.”

— Tony Blair, 31 August 1997

———

“Scut Farkus! What a rotten name! We were trapped. There he stood between us and the alley. Scut Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! So help me, God! Yellow eyes!”

— Ralphie in A Christmas Story (1983)

———

“Don’t turn away from the truth. Don’t turn away from your conscience. Please don’t ignore the law; no, embrace that higher principle for which the law was meant to serve. Justice—that’s all I ask—justice.”

— Denzel Washington in The Hurricane (1999)

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About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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11 Responses to Rhetorical Devices: Diacope

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  4. Bryce says:

    What about when you are trying to suggest a great number of things/people and use for example, “and mum and dad and billy all were there too”?

    Like

  5. Mamta says:

    Thank you, this has been so helpful!
    Would saying ‘day by day’ and ‘thread by thread’ in the middle of a sentence be an example of a diacope?
    For example if the sentence read “They persevered day by day until they reached their destination.” Or if the sentence read “In every detail of the dress, thread by thread, there is story in it.”

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    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Mamta,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, the examples that you give are both diacope. Diacope can be the repetition of a single word or a clause broken up by an intervening word/clause in the middle, beginning, or end of a sentence. Other examples include: “Burn, baby, burn” and “Interesting, very interesting”.

      Cheers!

      Like

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  7. proverbs says:

    No one’s family is normal. Normalcy is a lie invented by advertising agencies to make the rest of us feel inferior.

    Like

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