Figure Name aphaeresis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm);Isidore 1.35.3;Mosellanus ("aphaeresis" "ablatio") a3r-v; Susenbrotus (1540) 20; Sherry (1550) 26 ("apheresis," "ablatio"); Wilson (1560) 202 ("abstraction from the first"); Peacham (1577) E2r ; JG Smith (1665) ("aphaeresis"); Macbeth (1876); Vinsauf (1967) ("ablative absolute"); Holmes (1806) ("aphoeresis," "aphaeresis"); Bullinger (1898) ("aphaeresis: or, front-cut")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms apheresis, ablatio, abstraction from the first, front-cut, ablative, aphoeresis
Etymology from Gk. apo “away” and hairein “to take” ("a taking away from")
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Orthographic

1. The omission of a syllable or letter at the beginning of a word. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A taking away: a figure whereby a letter, or syllable is taken away from the beginning of a word.; Aphaeresis, [aphairesis] ademptio, detractio, a taking away. A figure contrary to Prosthesis, and is, when a letter or syllable is taken away from the beginning of a word. (JG Smith)

3. Front-cut, or Aphaeresis, very common in Allan Ramsay, Burns, Tannahill, and other Scottish bards, is the cutting off one or more letters from the beginning of a word: as 'ghast for aghast, 'mazed for amzed, 'fore for before, 'feeble for enfeeble; as in Douglas Jerrold's description of a scoundrel: "That scoundrel, sir! why, he'd sharpen a knife upon his father's tombstone to kill his mother. (Macbeth)

4. If you wish to be brief, first prune away those devices mentioned above which contribute to an elaborate style; let the entire theme be confined within narrow limits. Compress it in accordance with the following formula. ... The ablative, when it appears alone without a pilot, effects a certain compression. (Vinsauf)

5. Aphoeresis from the beginning takes, What properly a part of the word makes. (Holmes)

6. ...cutting off of a letter or syllable from the beginning of a word. (Bullinger, 161)


1. Omission of an initial letter:
What's the third R? Rithmetic! [for "Arithmetic"] (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. Omission of an initial syllable:
The King hath cause to plain.[for "complain"]
—Shakespeare, King Lear 3.1.39

3. So there is 'dures for endures, 'front for confront, 'venge for avenge, 'danger for endanger, 'tend for attend, 'larms for alarms, 'scapes for escapes, 'proaches for approaches, 'Nelope for Penelope, 'sdeigned for disdained, while speculation would thus be an honester word, for it would be peculation. (Macbeth)

3. Bret Harte tells us what goes on "down in 'Frisco." (Macbeth)

3."Wham Thou's thou, Scot? In faith thou 'serves a blow." - Blind Harry (Macbeth)

5. Till, for until. (Holmes)

6. "As I live, saith the LORD, through CONIAH [short for Jeconiah], the son of Jechoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence" -Jer. 22:24 (Bullinger, 162)

Kind Of Omission
Part Of metaplasm
Related Figures metaplasm, prothesis, apocope, figures of omission, figures of etymology, figures of abbreviation
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes fixed source, added related figure
Reviewed No