Figure Name membrum
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Ad Herennium 4.19.26; Peacham (1593); Garrett Epp (1994) ("membrum," "colon")
Earliest Source
Synonyms colon, membrum orationis, clause
Etymology L. "part, section"
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Syntactic

1. Roughly equivalent to "clause" in English, except that the emphasis is on seeing this part of a sentence as needing completion, either with a second membrum (or colon) or with two others forming a tricolon. When membra (or cola) are of equal length, they form isocolon.

Membrum is also best understood in terms of differing speeds of style that depend upon the length of the elements of a sentence. The Ad Herennium author contrasts the slower speed of concatenated membra to the quicker speed of words joined together without conjunction (articulus). (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Membrum is a figure which in few words endeth the construction, but not the sense. (Peacham)

3. Two, or preferably three, succinct clauses, each complete in itself, but joined to express a total meaning. (Garrett Epp)

4. If a mode of expression both easy and adorned is desired, set aside all the techniques of the dignified style and have recourse to means that are simple, but of a simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness. Here are the rhetorical colours with which to adorn your style: (Vinsauf)


1. Each of the three membra in the following sentence is numbered: (1) You have not considered the well-being of the country, (2) nor have you seen to the welfare of your friends, (3) nor have you resisted your enemies. (Ad Herennium qtd. in Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Thou hast neither profited the commonwelth, done good to thy friends, nor resisted thy enimies. (Peacham)

2. Thou light of our eyes, thou staffe of our age, thou conforter of our life, thou hope of our generation. (Tobias qtd. in Peacham)

2. God was shewed in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seene among Angels, preached to the Gentils, beleeved on in the world, and received up in glorie. (Apostle Paul in 2.Tim.3. qtd. in Peacham)

3. Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage. (H5 3.1 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

(note: each clause here is considered a membrum or colon.)

4. The fall began with the enemy, and by his cunning we fell, and corrupt as we are we cannot live without falling. (Vinsauf)

Kind Of Series
Part Of
Related Figures
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Nike Abbott
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No