Figure Name period
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Ad Herennium 4.19.27 ("continuatio"); Quintilian 9.4.22 ("ambitus, circumductum, continuatio, conclusio"); Isidore 1.36.18 ("hirmos") ; Vives ("periodus") 117-119.; JG Smith (1665) ("hirmos"); Ad Herennium 297; Garrett Epp (1994) ("continuatio," "periodos"); Vinsauf (1967) ("continuatio"); Waddy (1889); Demetrius (1902)
Earliest Source None
Synonyms hirmos, ambitus, circumductum, continuatio, conclusio, hirmus, long loose, periodos
Etymology from Gk. periodos “going around, course”
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. The periodic sentence, characterized by the suspension of the completion of sense until its end. This has been more possible and favored in Greek and Latin, languages already favoring the end position for the verb, but has been approximated in uninflected languages such as English. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Hirmos, a bond or knot: a figure whereby a sudden entrance is made into a confused heap of matter, &c.; Hirmos, nexus, series a bond or knot, or an heaping up of many things of different kinds: derived from [heiro] necto, copulo, to knit or couple together. A figure whereby a sudden entrance is made into a confused heap of matter; or when that which might have been spoken in one word is for plainnesse and evidence sake mustered together, or rehearsed through many species or forms. (JG Smith)

3. A close-packed and uninterrupted group of words embracing a complete thought. (Ad Herennium)

4. A dense, uninterrupted series of words expressing a single thought, generally a complex sentence having from two to four interdependant clauses or membra (although Aristotle allows a "simple" period). (Garrett Epp)

5. 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)

6. In the punctuation of simple sentences the only points used are the terminal marks, the apostrophe, and the comma.
Terminal marks are the marks placed at the end of sentences. They are the period the interrogation point, and the exclamation point.
Rule I.- Every sentence not interrogative or exclamatory must be followed by a period.
Rule II.-A period is used after every abbreviation; as, "Mr. Jas. Green"; "Y.M.C.A."
Rule II.-Roman numerals, headings, and signatures, must be followed by a period; as, "Chapter IV."; "Cowper's Task"; "H.M. Godwin." (Waddy)

7. a) The period is a collection of members or phrases, arranged dexterously to fit the thought to be expressed. (Demetrius)
b) 'A period is a form of expression which has a beginning and an end.' (Aristotle qtd. in Demetrius)


1. Note the long delay prior to the occurrence of the sentence's main verb ("sing"):
Of man's first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing Heav'nly Muse...

—John Milton, Paradise Lost (Silva Rhetoricae)

3. "Fortune cannot much harm him who has built his support more firmly upon virtue than upon
chance." (Ad Herennium)

3. "For if a person has not placed much hope in chance, what great harm can chance do him?" (Ad Herennium)

3. "But if Fortune has her greatest power over those who have committed all their plans to chance, we should not entrust our all with her, lest she gain too great a domination over us." (Ad Herennium)

4. If ever you our streets disturb again

Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. (R&J 1.1 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

4. (This figure often takes the form of a maxim)
Trouthe is the hyest thyng that man may kepe. (FklT 1479 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

2. Loves companions be unquietnesse, longings, fond comforts, faint discomforts, hopes, jealousies, rages, carelesnesse, carefulnesse, yieldings, &c. (JG Smith)

5. The unclean spirit does not harm him whom God is more powerful than the world. (- in sententia) He who places no hope in the foe - whence can he fear the foe? (- in contrario) If the foe is wont to be grievously harmful only to those who are his, (- in occlusione) benevolent law does not suffer us to be of his tribe. (Vinsauf)

7.a) 'Chiefly because I thought it was to the interest of the State that the law should be abrogated, but also for the sake of Chabrias' boy, I have agreed to plead, to the best of my ability, my clients' case.' (Demetrius)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures membrum, articulus
Notes Is 'type of' applicable here? From the Ad Herennium: It is often proper, although not imperative, to express certain thoughts by means of periods.
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ashwini Namasivayam
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No