Figure Name antanaclasis
Source Quintilian 9.3.68; Sherry (1550) 60 ("anaclasis," "refractio"); Peacham (1593); Puttenham (1589) 216 ("antanaclasis," "the rebounde"); Silva Rhetoricae (; JG Smith (1665) ("antanaclasis"); Macbeth (1876); Holmes (1806) ("antanaclasis"); De Mille (1882) ("the pun"); Blount (1653) 40; Bullinger (1898) ("antanaclasis; or, word-clashing"); Vickers (1989) ("antanaclasis")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms anaclasis, refractio, pun, word-clashing
Etymology Gk. anti "against" or "back," ana "up" and klasis "a breaking" from kla "to break"
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. The repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Antanaclasis is a figure which repeateth a word that hath two significations, and the one of them contrary, or at least, unlike to the other. (Peacham)

2. This figure as it uniteth two words of one sound, so it distinguisheth them asunder by the diversitie of thier sence, wherby it moveth many times a most pleasant kind of civile mirth, which is called of the Latines Facetiae, or Urbanitas.

3. A bearing back: a figure when the same word in likenesse is repeated in a various (if not in a contrary) signification. (JG Smith)

4. In the precise language of Rhetoric, when the same word is repeated in a different sense, this species of pun is called Antanaclasis, as in the expression:
"While we live, let us live;"
or in this:
"Learn some craft while you were young, that when old you may live without craft." (Macbeth)

5. Antanaclasis in one sound contains More meanings; which the various sense explains. (Holmes)

There are several other figures which may be named here: Syllepsis, paronomasia, annominatio, and antanaclasis. These are all of the nature of tropes, and by allowing some particular term to be taken in two senses-literal or metaphorical-they give rise to what is called a "play on words." They all have the same general characteristics, and will be considered farther on. (De Mille)

6. 451. THE PUN.
2. The ridiculous use of the play upon words is more familiar.
The name antanaclasis was often given to this in ancient times. In English it is known by the name of the pun. (De Mille)

7. "all Parentheses are in extreams, either graces or foyles to a Speech. If they be long, they seem interruptions, and therefore at the end of them must be a retreat to the matter, called ANTANACLASIS." (Blount)

8. Repetition of the same Word in the same Sentence, with Different Meanings... [see Etymology] Hence, a "breaking up against." This name is given to this figure; because when a word has been used once in its plain and natural sense, it is used again in the same sentence in another sense which breaks up against it. It is the use of the same word in the same sentence in two different senses. It is essential to this figure that the two words must be the same spelling. When they are similar in spelling but alike in sound, the figure is known by another name, Paranomasia. (Bullinger, 303)

9. Antanaclasis, where a word is used twice (or more) in two (or more) of its senses. (Vickers 492)


1. Your argument is sound...all sound. (Benjamin Franklin qtd. in Silva Rhetoricae)

1. The meaning of "sound" first appears to be "solid" or "reasonable"; in its repetition, it means something very different, "all air" or "empty" (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. In thy youth learn some craft that in thy age thou mayest get thy living without craft.
The meaning of "craft" first means "vocation"; in its repetition, it means "fraud" or "cunning." (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. While we live, let us live. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. In the following example, antanaclasis occurs with an entire phrase whose meaning alters upon repetition:
"If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm." (Vince Lombardi qtd. in Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Care for those things which may discharge you of all care. Care in the first place signifieth to provide, in the last the solicitude and dread of the minde. (Peacham)

2. In thy youth learne some craft, that in thy age thou mayst get thy living without craft. In this example craft in the first place signifieth science, occupation or trade; in the second, deceit and subtiltie. (Peacham)

3. Care for those things in your youth which may in old age discharge you of care. -Care in the first place signifies to provide, in the last, the solicitude and anxiety of the minde. (JG Smith)

4. A person explaining about acids in a very prosy way to Charles Lamb, Lamb stopped him with the remark:
"The best of all acids is assiduity." (Macbeth)

5. Care for those Things, which may discharge you of Care. (Holmes)

7. "As, Assure thy selfe most wicked woman ('that haft so plaguily a corrupted mind, as that thou canst not keep thy sickness to thy self, but must wickedly infect others) Assure thy self, I say, &c." (Blount)

8. When the Declaration of American Independence was being signed, Hancock said, "We must be unanimous; there must be no pulling different ways." "Yes," said Franklin, "we must all hang together, or must assuredly we shall all hang separately." (Bullinger, 303)

9. Put out the light, and then put out the light. --Shakespeare, Othello 5.2.7 (Vickers 492)

Kind Of Repetition
Part Of
Related Figures antistasis, figures of repetition, figures of separation, paranomasia
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No