Figure Name adynaton
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Vickers (1989)("Adynaton")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms adynata, impossibilia, adynata
Etymology from Gk. a, "without" and dynasthai, "to be able" (="powerless")
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. A declaration of impossibility, usually in terms of an exaggerated comparison. Sometimes, the expression of the impossibility of expression.

2. Adynaton, the impossibility of expressing oneself adequately to the topic. (Vickers 492)


1. I will sooner have a beard grow in the palm of my hand than he shall get one of his cheek,
—Shakespeare 2 Henry IV 1.2.20-22

1. I cannot speak enough of this content
It stops me here; it is too much of joy.
—Shakespeare, Othello 2.1.196-97

Gent #3. Did you see the meeting of the two kings?
Gent #2. No.
Gent #3. Then have you lost a sight which was to be seen, cannot be spoken of.
--Shakespeare, Winter's Tale,. 5. 2. 39 (Vickers 492)

Kind Of Identity
Part Of
Related Figures aposiopesis, figures of pathos
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes This Trope is a Type of Identification because it is comparing some plausible concept with an impossible one.
Reviewed No