Figure Name anastrophe
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Bede 614; Sherry (1550) 31 ("anastrophe," "reversio"); Peacham (1577) F3v; Day 1599 82 ; JG Smith (1665) ("anastrophe"); Vinsauf (1967) ("hyperbaton (transgressio) (a) anastrophe (perversio) (b) transposition (transjectio)"); Gibbons (1767) 168 ("anastrophe"); Holmes (1806) ("inversion," "inversio"); De Mille (1882); Holmes (1806) ("anastrophe")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms parallage, syncategorema, inversio, reversio, trajectio, reversal, perversio, inversion
Etymology from Gk. ana “back again” and strephein “to turn, a turning back”
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Syntactic

1. Departure from normal word order for the sake of emphasis. Anastrophe is most often a synonym for hyperbaton, but is occasionally referred to as a more specific instance of hyperbaton: the changing of the position of only a single word. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A proposterous placing of words or matter. Anastrophe, praepostera rerum collocatio, a praeposterous placing of words or matter; derived from, [anastrepho] retro verto, to turn back. A figure whereby words which should have been precedent, are postpon'd: (JG Smith)

3. A certain weightiness of style results also from the other of words alone, when units grammatically related are separated by their position, so that an inversion of this sort occurs: ... [under the king himself; up to that time; for this reason; in those matters]; or a transposed order of this sort: ... [harsh fortune produced a pestilent famine]; ... [deadly famine robbed the destitute soil of produce]. Here words related grammatically are separated by their position in the sentence. Juxtaposition of related words conveys the sense more readily, but their moderate separation sounds better to the ear and has greater elegance. (Vinsauf)

4. "Anastrophe, or inversion, is a Figure by which we suspend our sense, and the hearer's expectation; or a Figure by which we place last, and perhaps at a great remove from the beginning of the sentence, what, according to common order, should have been mentioned first." (Gibbons)

5. Inversion makes the adversary's plea A strong, nay best defence, that urg'd can be. (Holmes)

Anastrophe means, generally, the inversion of words, but more particularly the inversion of words in immediate connection: as-
"Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe." -COLLINS. (De Mille)

7. Anastrophe makes words, that first should go The last in place; Verse oft' will have it so. (Holmes)


1. Anastrophe occurs whenever normal syntactical arrangment is violated for emphasis:

The verb before the subject-noun (normal syntax follows the order subject-noun, verb):
"Glistens the dew upon the morning grass.(cf. The dew glistens upon the morning grass.)"

Adjective following the noun it modifies (normal syntax is adjective, noun):
"She looked at the sky dark and menacing. (cf. She looked at the dark and menacing sky.)"

The object preceding its verb (normal syntax is verb followed by its object):
"Troubles, everybody's got. (cf. Everybody's got troubles)"

Preposition following the object of the preposition (normal syntax is preposition, object ["upon our lives"]):
"It only stands / Our lives upon, to use Our strongest hands."
—Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra 2.1.50-51 (Silva Rhetoricae)

"...a speech of Eve to Adam in the state of innocence; 'Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, / But neither breath of morn, when she ascends / With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun / On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flow'rs, / Nor grateful ev'ning mild, not silent night / With this her solemn bird, nor walk by noon, / Or glitt'ring star-light, without thee is sweet.'" (Gibbons)

5. Had I killed him, as you report, I had not stayed to bury him. (Holmes)

6. "At length did cross an albatross." -COLERIDGE.

7. He travelled England thro', for through England. (Holmes)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures hyperbaton, schemes of grammatical construction, figures of order
Notes Type of is Opposition because passages are opposed with what is expected. added synonym from Gibbons, "inversion"--is this too close to inversio to matter?
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Nayoung Hong
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No