Figure Name paralipsis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Garrett Epp (1994) ("occupatio," "paralipsis"); Ad Herennium (320); Ad Herennium 4.27.37 ("occultatio"); Aquil. 8 ("paraleipsis," "praeteritio"); Melanch. IR d2v ("praeteritio" "paralipsis" "occupatio"); Sherry (1550) 59 ("paralepsis," "occupatio," "occupacion"); Peacham (1577) S2v ("preteritio"); Putt. (1589) 239 ("paralepsis," "the passager"); Day 1599 95 ("paralepsis," "occupatio"); JG Smith (1665) ("paralipsis"); Peacham 1593; Vinsauf (1967) ("occupatio"); Macbeth (1876) ("paralepsis," "apophasis," "pretend omission"); Holmes (1806) ("paraleipsis"); Bullinger (1898) ("paraleipsis; or, a passing by"); Johnson (1903) ("paralepsis"); Vickers (1989) ("paralipsis")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms paraleipsis, paralepsis, antiphrasis, parasiopesis, occultatio, occupatio, praeteritio, preteritio, praetermissio, the passager, preterition, pretended omission, a passing by
Etymology from Gk. para, "side" and leipein, "to leave" ("to leave to one side")
Type Chroma
Linguistic Domain Semantic

Rhetfig: Drawing attention to something by stating that it will not be discussed or mentioned. For example: "I will not even mention that fact that she has been late for the last four meetings"

1. Stating and drawing attention to something in the very act of pretending to pass it over. A kind of irony. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Description of a situation, or naming of objects, while professing to leave them unnamed through lack of knowledge, or unwillingness to discuss them (also called occultatio). (Garrett Epp)

3. Paralipsis occurs when we say that we
are passing by, or do not know, or refuse to say that which precisely now we are saying (Ad Herennium)

4. Preterition, or overpassing; it is a kind of an Ironie; and is when you say you passe by a thing, which yet with a certain elegancy you touch at full.; PARALIPSIS, [paraleipsis] praeteritio, an over-passing, derived from [paraleipo] praetermitto, omitto, to pretermit, or leave out. Preterition is a kind of an Irony, and is when you say you let passe that which notwithstanding you touch at full: or, When we say we pass by a thing, which yet with a certain elegancy we note; speaking much, in saying we will not say it. The forms of this figure are these, viz.
I let passe, I am silent. I will leave out. I omit. I say not.(JG Smith)

5. Paralepsis, of some called Praeteritio, of others Occupatio, and it is when the Orator faineth and maketh as though he would say nothing in some matter, when notwithstanding he speaketh most of all, or when he saith some thing: in saying he will not say it: Cicero against Verres. All the time before he came to the office and government of the common wealth, he shall go free. I will make no mention of his drunken banquets nightly, & his watching with bawdes, dicers, whoremaisters. I will not name his losses, his luxuritie, and staining of his honestie, let him take his olde infamy for a vantage, the rest of his life shall alone, that I may make losse of his leaudnesse. (Peacham)

6. If a mode of expression both easy and adorned is desired, set aside all the techniques of the dignified style and have recourse to means that are simple, but of a simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness. Here are the rhetorical colours with which to adorn your style: (Vinsauf)

7. Paralepsis; Apophasis, or Pretended Omission, is our next: in which the speaker pretends not to mention circumstances which yet all the while he is mentioning. (Macbeth)

8. A Paraleipsis cries, I leav't behind, I let it pass; tho' you the whole may find. (Holmes)

Closely associated with the preceding is another, in which by a profession or simulation of silence the speaker will appear to pass by a thing while verbally mentioning it, and that, too, is the most striking manner. (De Mille)

10. Addition (brief) of that which is professedly ignored... This figure is used when the speaker professes a wish to pass something by in silence, which he nevertheless adds by a brief allusion to it. (Bullinger, 493)

11. Paralep'sis.—By this figure of rhetoric the writer or speaker professes to omit something, or to dismiss it as of small account, and, in doing so, calls special attention to it. (Johnson, 180)

12. Paralipsis (or occupatio), when one pretends to pass over a matter and so draws attention to it. (Vickers 496)


1. It would be unseemly for me to dwell on Senator Kennedy's drinking problem, and too many have already sensationalized his womanizing... (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. Melville's narrator of Moby Dick, Ishmael, manages to characterize Queequeg in the very act of stating he will pass over such details:
We will not speak of all Queequeg's peculiarities here; how he eschewed coffee and hot rolls, and applied his undivided attention to beefsteaks, done rare. —Moby Dick "Breakfast" (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. I'll speak of her no more, nor of your children;

I'll not remember you of my own lord,

Who is lost too. (WT 3.2 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

3. " Your boyhood, indeed, which you dedicated to intemperance of all kinds, I would discuss, if I thought this the right time. But at resent I advisedly leave that aside. This too I pass by, that the tribunes have reported you as irregular in military service. Also that you have given satisfaction to Lucius Labeo for
injuries done him I regard as irrelevant to the
present matter. Of these things I say nothing, but return to the issue in this trial." (Ad Herennium)

3. " I do not mention that you have taken monies from our allies ; I do not concern myself with your having despoiled the cities, kingdoms, and homes of them all. I pass by your thieveries and robberies, all of them." (Ad Herennium)

4. I doe not say you received bribes of your fellows. (JG Smith)

5. “ I do not say thou receivedst bribes of thy followes, I buste not my selfe in this thing, that thou spoyledst Cities, Kingdomes, and all mens houses: I let passe thy thefts and thy robberies: Paul to Philemon. So that I do not say, how that thou swest unto me thine owne felte also.” Paul to Philemon. (Peacham)

6. The demands of justice decreed - but I pass this by as well known - that as the enemy brought death to mankind through treacherous means, so man by subtle maneuver should bring death to the enemy, taken captive in the toils of divinity. (Vinsauf)

7. Paul gives a fine example in his elegant
and courteous letter to Philemon. How admirably what Paul saith to Philemon, in behalf of Onesimus, may Christ say to God the Father for each of us sinners:
"If he hath wronged thee or owed thee aught, put that, O God, the Father, on mine account."
Then mark how Paul mentions not what services he had done for Philemon. (Macbeth)

8. I omit the bribes you received; I let pass your thefts and robberies. (Holmes)

10. Heb. 11:32. -"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon and of Barack," etc., and then proceeds to allude briefly to them all in verses 33-38. (Bullinger, 493)

11. Daniel Webster, in his famous reply to Senator Hayne, used the figure several times. Here is one example: "I have not allowed myself to look beyond the Union to see what might be hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of prelserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the principle of disunion to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below." And here is another example: "I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts, She needs none. There she is—behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There are Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill, and there they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, falling in the great struggle for independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every
State, from New England to Georgia; and there they will lie forever." In ordinary argumentative
discourse this figure is often introduced by some such expression as "saying nothing of," followed immediately by a brief but effective statement of a strong point. (Johnson, 180-181)

12. Let but the commons hear this testament [Caesar's will] —
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read —
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds . . .
Have patience, gentle friends; I must not read it.
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you...
--Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, 3. 2. 130 (Vickers 496)

Kind Of Addition
Part Of Irony
Related Figures irony, preterition, apophasis
Notes I added this as a type of irony which JG Smith also does. - Nike Macbeth considers "apophasis" as a syn of "paralepsis." - sam
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No