Figure Name anastrophe
Source Silva Rhetoricae (;Bede 614; Sherry (1550) 31 ("anastrophe," "reversio"); Peacham (1577) F3v; Day 1599 82 ; JG Smith (1665) ("inversio"); Bullinger (1898) ("anastrophe; or, arraignment"); Johnson (1903) ("anastrophe")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms syncategorema, parallage, inversio, reversio, trajectio, reversal, hyperbaton, arraignment, inversion
Etymology from Gk. ana “back again” and strephein “to turn, a turning back”
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. Departure from normal word order for the sake of emphasis. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Inversio, a turning upside down: a figure whereby the speaker brings in a thing for himself, which was alledged against him.; INVERSIO, by the Greeks called Antistrophe, a turning upside down, derived from verto, to turn or change, and in, against. Inversion is a figure, whereby the Orator or speaker reasons, or brings in a thing for himself, which was reported or alleadged against him. (JG Smith)

3. The position of One word changed so as to be set over against the Other... The figure is so-called because one word is turned, or turned back out of its proper or usual position in a sentence. (Bullinger, 697)

4. Anas'trophe.—In this figure of rhetoric (sometimes called Inversion) a word or clause that in the natural or usual order of speech would be placed at the beginning of a sentence is placed at the close, or vice versa. (Johnson, 27)


1. Glistens the dew upon the morning grass.(Normally: The dew glistens upon the morning grass) (Silva Rhetoricae)

She looked at the sky dark and menacing. (Normally: She looked at the dark and menacing sky)

Troubles, everybody's got. (Normally: Everybody's got troubles)

It only stands / Our lives upon, to use Our strongest hands
—Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra 2.1.50-51

2. In English thus,
Romulus drinking sparingly, at supper one said unto him; if all men did so, wine would be cheaper than it is: to whom Romulus answered, yea, but it would be rather dearer, if every one drunk as much as he would; for I have drunk as much as I desire.
This figure is of near affinity unto Metastasis, Mutation, which ancient Rhetoricians called a form of speech, whereby we turn back those things that are objected against us, to them which laid them to us.
Thus when Anthony charged Cicero, that he was the cause of civil war raised between Pompeius and Caesar, Cicero rebounded the same accusation again to Antony, saying: Thou Marcus Antony, thou I say gavest to Caesar (willing to turn all upside down) cause to make war against thy countrey. (JG Smith)

3. Deut. 22:1. -"Thou shalt not not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them."
Here, the negative is put with "see" instead of with "hide," in order to emphasize the command, which otherwise tamely read:-"If thou shalt see... thou shalt not hide," etc. (Bullinger, 698)

4. Thus, Milton's Paradise Lost begins:

Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought, death into the world and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, heavenly Muse !

There is a remarkable example of the eflfective use of this figure in De Quincey's works, where, after recounting a singular tale that he had heard, he writes this sentence: "Me the story caused to laugh immoderately." Had he been speaking instead of writing, he could have used the ordinary form, "The story caused me to laugh immoderately," and by strongly emphasizing the me could still have conveyed the idea that he was doubtful what effect the story might have on others. Even in print he might have done this by the use of italics (which are to be avoided when possible), but he has done it much better by a bold anastrophe. The Book of Common Prayer presents, in the Litany, several examples of anastrophe, all alike. (Johnson, 27-28)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures hyperbaton, schemes of grammatical construction, figures of order,
Notes Unsure of 'type of'. Entered by Ashwini.
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes changed figure title from syncategorema to anastrophe as per SR.
Reviewed No