Figure Name apophasis
Source Silva Rhetoricae http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm; Sherry (1550) 54 ("apophasis," "expeditio," "expedicion") ; Smith ("expeditio" "expedition" "quick dispatch") 250-51; JG Smith (1665) ("apophasis"); Peacham 1593; Gibbons (1767) 157 ("apophasis"); Holmes (1806) ("apophasis"); De Mille (1882) ("denial"); Raub (1888) 221; Blackwall (1718); Bullinger (1898) ("apophasis; or, insinuation")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms expedicion, expedition, quick dispatch, apoplansis, apoplanesis, denial, paralipsis, omission, insinuation
Etymology a-poph'-a-sis "denial," "negation" from Gr. apophanai "to speak off " and this from apo "off" and phanai "to speak" or "say"
Type None
Linguistic Domain

1. The rejection of several reasons why a thing should or should not be done and affirming a single one, considered most valid. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A denying; a kind of an Irony, whereby we deny that we say, or doe, that which we principa[...]y say or doe.; Apophasis,negatio, a denying, derived from [phao] dico, to speak and [apo] which sometimes signifies a denying; or from [apophemi] nego, to deny. It is a kind of an Irony, whereby we deny that we say or doe that which we especially say or doe. (JG Smith)

3. Apoplansis is also another kind of aversion or turning away, and it is when the speaker leadeth away the mind of his hearer, from the matter propounded or question in hand, which maketh much against him. The way and cunning to do this, is manifold & almost infinite. (Peacham)

4. "Aphophasis, or denial, is a Figure by which an Orator pretends to conceal or omit what he really and in fact declares" (Gibbons)

5. Apophasis, pretending to conceal The whole it meant to hide, must needs reveal. (Holmes)

6. 388. DENIAL.
2. Denial is merely another form of assertion, the negative being employed instead of the positive: as-
"It was not I who inspired the Hungarian people. No. It was the Hungarian people who inspired me." -KOSSUTH. (De Mille)

7. "the pretended suppression of what one is at the time actually mentioning" (Raub)

8. Omission is when an Author pretends, that he conceals and omits what he declares. (...) In eager Passion and Contests variety of Arguments crowd into a Man's Thoughts; but he is so mov'd and disturb'd, that he cannot regularly enlarge upon them. Besides, he has some Fear, that if he shou'd say all his Indignation wou'd dictate, he might trespass upon the Patience of his Hearers; therefore he only gives shorter Hints, and pretends that Time and Reverence for them will not allow him to be more copious and express. (Blackwall)

9. Addition of Insinuation (implied) by way of Reasoning... The figure is used when, professing to suppress certain matters or ideas, the speaker proceeds to add the insinuation, negatively: e.g., "I will not mention the matter, but, etc.; or, "I will not mention another argument, which, however, if I should, you could not refute." (Bullinger, 494)


1. Seeing that this land was mine, you must show that either you did possess it, being empty, or made it your own by use, or purchase, or else that it came to you by inheritance. You could not possess it empty when I was in possession. Also, you cannot make it your by use or custom. You have no deed to prove your purchase of it; I being alive it could not descend upon you by inheritance. It follows then that you would put me from my own land before I am dead. —John Smith (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. I say nothing. (JG Smith)

3. Cicero when he should have answered to an accusation, in which it was objected that Caelius poysoned Metellus, for as much as it was proved that Caelius had poison prepared in his house: and furthermore that the force of that poison was tried in a servant of his, he digressed by and by to Metellus death, and maketh a suspition that he was poisoned by the mischievous deede of Clodius: he sigheth, weepeth and bewaileth that death, whereby he staieth and appeaseth his adversaries, and causeth them to mourne with him, and to be striken (as it were) with the same wound, and so by his vehement and forcible perswasion turneth the mindes of the Judges from the cogitation of the fact, now and then touching it a little, and slipping from it again. (Peacham)

4. "Philemon is made a convert to Christianity, and is brought into the blessed hope of the Gospel by the Apostle Paul: Onesiphorus, the servant of Philemon, robs his master and flies to Rome; he falls in the way of the Apostle, who becomes the happy instrument of Onesiphorus' conversion. Upon this Saint Paul writes to Philemon in behalf of his servant, and tells him, verse 18. of his Epistle: "If he hath wronged thee, or owes thee aught, put that to my account; I Paul have written it with my own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee, how thou owest to me, even thine own self besides.'" (Gibbons)

5. I say nothing of your idleness, and other things, for which you cannot excuse yourself. (Holmes)

7. "I say nothing of the profligate character of this man--I say nothing as to his habit of prevarication--but still, I do not feel that I can trust him." (Raub)

8. I do not mention my Adversary's scandalous Gluttony and Drunkenness; I take no Notice of his brutal Lusts; I say not a Syllable of his Treachery, Malice, and Cruelty. (Blackwall)

9. Philem. 19. -"I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it (albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest me even thine own self besides)." (Bullinger, 494)

Kind Of
Part Of Irony
Related Figures figures of reasoning, aetiologia, anthypophora, contrarium, enthymeme, prosapodosis, ratiocinatio, figures of refutation, figures of permission
Notes Possibly the Greek term for the Latin "expeditio". added "denial" under synonyms
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No