Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Neat Word and Its Sidekick

Okay, so a friend of mine told me about a cool word today, and I'm dedicating this blog post to it.

The word is: CHIASMUS

Here is the definition according to Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: chi·as·mus
Pronunciation: kI-'az-m&s, kE-
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek chiasmos, from chiazein to mark with a chi
Definition: an inverted relationship between the syntactic elements of parallel phrases (as in Goldsmith's to stop too fearful, and too faint to go)

There are a few famous quotes that make use of a chiasmus. The most commonly quoted one is JFK's "... ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." And, it turns out that this particular chiasmus belongs to a special subset known as an antimetabole. I find this all really neat.

Anyway, here's Dictionary.com's definition of that word:


\An`ti*me*tab"o*le\, n. [L., fr. Gr. ?.] (Rhet.) A figure in which the same words or ideas are repeated in transposed order.

Now, I'm not sure if antimetabole really exists in lower case form... most references to the word capitalize it. For those of you who haven't been reading the blog since June of 2006, you might want to check out my thoughts on the lexical pecking order.

And, that's it. This post honors chiasmus and his sidekick, antimetabole. Also, don't think I'm that crazy... one guy dedicated an entire site to chiasmus (it's a slow site, so be patient)!

No comments: