Figure Name polyptoton
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Isidore 1.36.17; Fraunce (1588) 1.25; Putt. (1589) 213 ("traductio," "the tranlacer"); Day 1599 86 ("polyptoton," "traductio"); JG Smith (1665) ("polyptoton"); Macbeth (1876) ("polyptolon"); Holmes (1806) ("polyptoton"); De Mille (1882); Bullinger (1898) ("polyptoton; or, many inflections"); Norwood (1742) ("polyptoton"); Vickers (1989) ("polyptoton")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms paragmenon, traductio, adnominatio, the tranlacer, many inflections, polyptolon
Etymology from Gk. poly, "many" and ptotos, "falling" or ptosis, "[grammatical] case"
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Lexicographic

1. Repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Polyptoton, variation of cases, or a change of the termination, end, or case: a figure when several cases of the same Noune, and Tenses of the same verb, are used in conjoyned clauses, &c.; POLYPTOTON, variatio casuum, aut multos casus habens, variation of cases, a small change of the termination or case: derived from [poly] varie, variously, and [ptoton] cadens, falling out, which is derived from [ptoo] cado, to fall. Polyptoton is a repetition of words of the same lineage, that differ only in termination, and it is made by changing (1) the Mood, (2) the Tense, (3) the Person, (4) the Case, (5) the Degree, (6) the Gender, (7) the Number, (8) the part of Speech. It is a kinde of Gradation, for it is continued by its degrees in words unlike, as an Anadiplisis is in like words: A figure when several cases of the same noun, and tenses of the same verb, are used in conjoyned clauses. (JG Smith)

3. Polyptolon is the repetition of the same word in different cases or numbers or persons, as thus:
"Anguish tries the soul man a time of chief and king; and brighter often are the homes of shepherds than of kings." (Macbeth)

4. A Polyptoton still the same word places, If sense require it, in two diff'rent cases. (Holmes)

5. Polyptoton-a repetition with change of cases or tenses:
"I dreamed a dream." (De Mille)

6. The Repetition of the same Part of Speech in different Inflections... a repetition of the same noun in several cases, or of the same verb in several moods or tenses. With many inflections is a definition which covers both nouns and verbs... arranged the different forms of Polyptotn, as follows:-
I. Verbs.
1. Verbs repeated in different moods and tenses.
2. Verbs with their imperative, or particles (HOMOGENE).
a. In strong affirmation.
b. In strong negation.
3. Verbs with cognate noun.
4. Verbs with other parts of speech (combined Polyptoton).
II. Nouns and Pronouns.
1. Nouns repeated indifferent cases.
2. Nouns repeated in different numbers.
a. In singular and plural.
b. In singular and dependent genitive plural.
III. Adjectives.
(Bullinger, 285)

7. POLYPTOTON. Polyptoton, from the Greek (poluptoton,) variatio casuum. This Figure employs words of the same derivation, but alters the termination, or the mood, case, or gender. (Norwood, 74)

8. Polyptoton (paragmenon, traductio, or adnominatio), repeating a word in a different form. (Vickers 497)


1. With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder.
—John of Gaunt in Shakespeare's Richard II 2.1.37 (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. He's faulty using of our faults.
Exceedingly exceeding. (JG Smith)

3. "When a man has learned how to learn, he can learn any thing." - Henry Kingsley (Macbeth)

4. Foot to Foot; Hand to Hand; Face to Face. (Holmes)

5. "On apples, apples; figs on figs arise." -POPE, Odyssey. (De Mille)

6. [ex. from I. #1] "Here, the Hebrew is: "God, when He visiteth, or in visiting, will visit you." -Gen. 1:24 ... in order to emphasize the certainty of Joseph's belief in the promise of God... (Bullinger, 285)

6. [ex. form I. #2.a)] "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." Hebrew, eating thou shalt eat. -Gen. 2:16 The conjugated verb is strengthened and emphasized by the infinitive preceeding it. This infinitive Eve omitted in 3:2, and thus "diminished" from the word of God. (Bullinger, 290)

6. [ex. from I. #2.b)] "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die." -Gen. 3:4 Here the serpent emphatically denies Jehovah's words, and says, dying thou shalt not die. (Bullinger, 292)

6. [ex. from I. #3] "And the LORD smelled a sweet savour." Lit., smelled the sweet smell, or the savour of rest: ie., Jehovah accepted the sacrifice, and was satisfied with the atonement made by Noah. (Bullinger, 293)

6. [ex. from II. #1] "Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD (Adonai Jehovah): Because thine heat is lifted up, and thou hast said I am a God, I sit in the seat or God (2 Thess. 2:4) in the heart (ie. in the heart) of the seas; yet thou art a man and not God, though set thine hear as the heart of God." (Bullinger, 299)

6. [ex. from II. #2.a)] Ps. 68:15, 16 (16, 17). -In Hebrew it is clearer than in the English, because what in English requires two or more words, in Hebrew is only one word, or a compound word.
"A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan,
A mountain of mountain peaks is the mountain of Bashan.
Why look ye askance (or envy) ye mountain peaks.
At the mountain which God hath desired for His abode?
Yea, the LORD will dwell in if for ever."
Thus, is the Hill of Zion specially marked out as the place which Jehovah chose for His House. (Bullinger, 301)

6. [ex. from II. #2.b)] "A servent of servents shall [Canaan] be" ie. the lowest and most degraded of servants, or the most abject slave. (Bullinger, 302)

6. [ex. from III] "And God is able to make all, grave abound toward you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work." -2 Cor. 9:8 (Bullinger, 303)

7. Rom. 2. 21. Thou that preachest, a man should not steal, dost thou steal? (Norwood, 74)

7. Rom. 11. 16. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; that is, God is supreme, and disposeth every thing to serve the wise ends of his providence. (Norwood, 74)

7. 2 Tim. 3. 13. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. See the various termination of the same words, Heb. 6. 14. (Norwood, 74)

8. And death once dead, there's no more dying then.
--Shakespeare, "Sonnet 146" (Vickers 497)

Kind Of Repetition
Part Of
Related Figures paregmenon, adnominatio, Figures of Wordplay, Figures of Repetition, ploce, paregmenon
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No