Figure Name ellipsis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Quintilian 9.3.58, 8.6.21 ("eclipsis"); Susenbrotus (1540) 25 ("eclipsis"); Sherry (1550) 31 ("eclipsis," "defectus"); Peacham (1577) E3v ("eclipsis"); Putt. (1589) 175 ("eclipsis," "figure of default"); Day 1599 81 ("eclipsis") ; JG Smith (1665) ("ellipsis"); Macbeth (1876)("omission," "ellipsis") ; Bain (1867) 63 ("ellipsis"); De Mille (1882) ("ellipse"); Holmes (1806) ("elleipsis"); Hill (1883); Waddy (1889); Raub (1888) 221; Bullinger (1898)
Earliest Source None
Synonyms elipsis, elleipsis, eclipsis, defectus, figure of default, omission, ellipse
Etymology from Gk. elleipein, "to come short"
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. Omission of a word or short phrase easily understood in context. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Def[...]ct: a figure when in a sentence a word is wanting, to make that sense which hath been spoken.; Ellipsis, [elleipsis] defectus, defect, or want: derived from [elleipo] deficio, to lack or want. Note '*' in marg: It is somewhat like unto Aposiopesis . A figure when for expressing of passion and affection, some word (necessary in construction) is forborn: or, when in a sentence, a word is wanting, to make that sense, which hath been spoken. (JG Smith)

3. Omission, or Ellipsis, is one of the most common usages of speech, and is so numerous in its varieties as to deserve a volume to itself; we utter few sentences without it; the omission of a word or words necessary to complete the grammatical construction, though not necessary to make the meaning precise. (Macbeth)

3. There are what we may call Ellipses Complimentary; as when a letter was sent to the illustrious Newton, addressed "Mr. Newton, Europe," which came safely to the Unequaled. (Macbeth)

4. "the omission of a word or words essential to the construction but not to the sense, is a figure of both grammar and rhetoric. It conduces brevity, and is sometimes a sign of strong feeling. It is also a suggestive figure; what is unexpressed being left to the imagination to fill up." (Bain)

5. 208. ELLIPSE.
By ellipse is meant the omission of words:
"And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kil a man as kill a good book." -MILTON (De Mille)

6. Elleipsis leaves a word or sentence out, When the conciseness causes not a doubt. (Holmes)

7. 2) Ellipsis.- Ellipsis often contributes to idiomatic terseness of expression, and so becomes an important aid to the economy of interpreting power. On the other hand, its improper use may introduce confusion into speech. (Hill)

8. 6. Marks of Ellipsis [****.....- --] denote the omission of letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. (Waddy)

9. "the omission of such letters or words as are necessary to complete the sense and construction." There are three types of "ellipsis of letters": aphaeresis ("the omission of a letter or letters from the beginning of a word"), syncope ("the omission of a letter or letters from the middle of a word"), and apocope ("the omission of a letter or letters from he end of a word"). "The second variety of Ellipsis is that of words, particularly connectives…. The third variety of Ellipsis is that of an entire clause." (Raub)

10. The figure is so called, because some gap is left the sentence, which means that a word or words are left or omitted. The English name of the figure would therefore be Omission... Ellipsis is of three kinds:-
Absolute Ellipsis,
Relative Ellipsis, and the
Ellipsis of Repetition:-
A. Absolute, where the omitted word or words are to be supplied from the nature suggested by the context.
B. Relative, where the omitted word or words are to be supplied from, and are suggested by the context.
C. The Ellipsis of Repetition, where the omitted word or words are to supplied by repeating them from a clause which precedes or follows. (Bullinger, 16)


1. "The average person thinks he isn't."
-- Father Larry Lorenzoni
The term "average" is omitted but understood after "isn't." (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. "John forgives Mary and Mary, John."
Note that the comma signals what has been elided, "forgives" (Silva Rhetoricae)

3. A dull writer was remarking that he and the distinguished Frenchman, Guizot, rowed int he same boat, both being writers of history:

3. "You row in the same boat," Douglas Jerrold replied, "but not with the same sculls." (Macbeth)

3. "Here lives Jemmy Wright-
Shaves as well as any man in England;
Almost, not quite." (Macbeth)

4. "The single word 'Impossible' is more expressive than a complete sentence affirming impossibility." (Bain)

6. True, for it is true. (Holmes)

7. Addison has left some very awkward ellipses; as in the sentence, "But in the temper of mind 'he was then,' he termed them mercies," etc. Here he makes Sir Andrew Freeport to be a "temper of mind," when he intended to say "the temper of mind 'in which' he was then." (Hill)

9. "[aphaeresis:] 'gan for began…[syncope:] lov'd for loved…[apocope:] tho' for though….[ellipsis of words:] this is the letter I wrote, for 'this is the letter which I wrote'….[ellipsis of an entire clause:] 'Astonishing!' for 'This is astonishing!'" (Raub)

10. [Absolute Ellipsis]: "And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread Which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well-favoured." -Gen. 39:6 Here it is not at all clear which it was of the two who "knew not ought he had." If we understand Potiphar, it is difficult to see how he only knew the bread he ate: or if Joseph, it is difficult to understand how he knew not ought he had. If the Ellipsis, however, is rightly supplied, it makes it all clear. (Bullinger, 18)

10. [Relative Ellipsis] "If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done." -Lev. 4:2. Here the verb "shall sin" supplies the noun "sins," ie., "concerning sins which ought not to be done." (Bullinger, 71)

10. [Repetition Ellipsis] "Let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it," ie. the lamb from verse 3. -Ex. 12:4 (Bullinger, 85)

Kind Of Omission
Part Of
Related Figures syllepsis, figures of omission, figures of syntax
Notes 7. Although ellipsis is a source of confusion in cases where the 'sense' is affected, it contributes to brevity where the 'construction' alone requires that something be supplied: as, "Who steals my purse steals trash." (Hill)
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes fixed example Ashley: I've changed this from chroma to trope and changed the confidence level.--Craig
Reviewed No