hysteron proteron

Figure Name hysteron proteron
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); De Mille (1882); Holmes (1806) ("hysteron"); Bullinger (1898) ("hysteron-proteron; or, last-first"); Vickers (1989) ("hysteron proteron")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms praeposteratio, prepostera loquutio, preposterous, hysteron, hysteron-proteron, last-first
Etymology None
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Disorder of time. (What should be first, isn't.) A kind of hyperbaton. (Silva Rhetoricae)

Hysteron proteron is similar to hyberbaton, but is more limited in its scope, being confined to a few words, where the order of though is reversed, and that is put first which should stand last:
"Valet atque vivit." -TERENCE.
"He is well and alive."
This is sometimes considered as identical with anastrophe, already considered. (De Mille)

3. Hysteron doth misplace both words and sense, And makes the last what's first by just pretence. (Holmes)

4. The second of two things put First... A figure in which the word that should be the latter of two words comes first. It is, therefore, a kind of Hyperbaton: where 'the cart is put before the horse.' It occurs in most language; but it is a question whether in this sense it occurs in the Bible, as the figure is considered rather a blemish than an ornament. If it is used, it is certainly for unusual emphasis. (Bullinger, 700)

5. Hysteron proteron (or praeposteratio), the placing first in a sentence or clause of words which, in terms of sense, ought to come later. (Vickers 495)


1. Put on your shoes and socks.
(not in that order, of course)
In the following example, the turning of the rudder logically precedes the flight described, yet is mentioned after:
Th' Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral,
With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder.
—Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra 3.10.2 (Silva Rhetoricae)

3. He was bred and born, for born and bred, at London. (Holmes)

4. Heb. 3:8. -"Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness." (Bullinger, 701)

5. Th'Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral,
With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder.
--Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, 3.10.2 (Vickers 495)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures Figures of Order, hysterologia, anastrophe, hyperbaton
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No