Figure Name hyperbaton
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Ad Herennium 4.32.44 ("transgressio"); Quintilian 8.6.62-67; Bede 614-15; Susenbrotus (1540) 31 ("hyperbaton," "transgressio"); Sherry (1550) 30 ("hyperbaton," "transgressio"); Peacham (1577) F3v; Putt. (1589) 180 (#1—"hiperbaton," "trespasser") ; JG Smith (1665) ("hyperbaton"); Ad Herennium (337-339); Garrett Epp (1994) ("transgressio," "hyperbaton"); Vinsauf (1967) ("hyperbaton (transgressio) (a) anastrophe (perversio) (b) transposition (transjectio)"); Macbeth (1876); Bain (1867) 64 ("hyperbaton"); De Mille ("transgressio," "hyperbaton"); Holmes (1806) ("hyperbaton"); Waddy (1889) ("inversion"); Raub (1888) 222; Bullinger (1898) ("hyperbaton; or, transposition"); Vickers (1989) ("hyperbaton")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms hiperbaton, transgressio, trespasser, transposition, inversion
Etymology from Gk. hyper, "over" and bainein, "to step"
Type Scheme
Linguistic Domain Syntactic

1. An inversion of normal word order. A generic term for a variety of figures involving transposition (see below), it is sometimes synonymous with anastrophe. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. Adding a word or thought to a sentence that is already semantically complete, thus drawing emphasis to the addition. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A passing over: it is a transposed order of words; a figure when words agreeing in sense, are in place disjoyned.; Hyperbaton, Transgressio, Transgression, or a passing over, derived from [hyperbaino] transgredior, to passe over. By Rhetoricians, it is called a transposed order of words; such as the cause and comeliness of speech often requires. Hyperbaton is a figure when words are for elegancy and variety transposed from the right order of construction, (which is the plain Grammatical order) into another handsomer and more fit order: or, When words agreeing in sense are in site or placing disjoyned: But this figure and Antiptosis are found rather to excuse the license or the error of Authors, then to shew that we may doe the like. (JG Smith)

3. Hyperbaton upsets the word order by means
either of Anastrophe or Transposition. (Ad Herennium)

4. A change from normal word order (usually for the sake of rhythm), either through perversio (anastrophe), a reversal of words, or through transiectio, a transposition involving the separation of grammatically related elements. (Garrett Epp)

5. 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)

6. Inversion, Transposition, or Hyperbaton, is the arranging of words in an inverted order. (Macbeth)

7. "the Hyperbaton is purposed inversion and perplexity, before announcing something of great emphasis and import, thus giving to a meditated expression the effect of an impromptu." (Bain)

8. a) 164. TRANSGRESSIO.
With hyperbole may be associated a form of statement once considered as a separate figure, and called "transgressio," which consists of any kind of exaggeration. It therefore includes the following in addition to those which have already been noticed:
1. Animated description passing beyond literal truth. This may be allowed as legitimate hyperbole, or, if a separate name be preferred, transgressio. Poets, orators, and writers of fiction all indulge in this exaggerated statement, and Victor Hugo's writings abound in it.
"This is our bad condition here. How much worse it is ten miles from Boston you may conceive. The darkness might be felt."-FISHER AMES.
2. Many colloquial expressions illustrate this figure; as "to cry one's eyes out," "to weep as if one's heart would break," "to split one's sides with laughing." " If a young merchant fails," says Emerson, "men say he is ruined."
3. Humorous writing abounds in this; indeed, a distinct department of this sort of literature, i. e., American, is based upon exaggeration.
Hyperbole, when improperly used, is certain to degenerate into bombast. (De Mille)

8. b) 194. HYPERBATON.
By this is mean inversion in the order of thought. (De Mille)

9. Hyperbaton makes words and sense to run In order that's disturb'd; such rather shun. (Holmes)

11. "the intentional inversion of words. This is usually most prevalent in poetry, where it is known as poetic license, but it occurs also in prose" (Raub)

12. The placing of a Word out of its usual order in a Sentence... The figure is so called because the words of a sentence are put out of their natural and usual grammatical order. All words are arranged in a sentence according to certain laws, which have been acquired by usage. These laws are not the same in all languages, but each language has its own peculiar laws, called Syntax, which merely means "a putting together in order." Even in one language this order may vary in different stages of its history and development. (Bullinger, 691)

13. Hyperbaton (or transgressio), the alteration of word order for purposes of
emphasis. (Vickers 495)


1. Example (of #1) Adriana asks regarding men in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors: Why should their liberty than ours be more? (Silva Rhetoricae)

3. "Hoc vobis deos immortales arbitror dedisse virtute pro vcstra." (Ad Herennium)

3. " Instabilis in istum plurimum fortuna valuit. Omnes invidiose eripuit bene vivendi
casus facultates." (Ad Herennium)

4. As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free. (Tempest Epilogue qtd. in Garrett Epp)

4. It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood,
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow .... (Othello 5.2 qtd. in Garrett Epp)
(note: Dupriez does not mention transiectio, but cites this passage as an example of anastrophe, which he distinguishes from hyperbaton. - Garrett Epp)

2. Ephes. 2.1. And you hath he quickned who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Ephes. 5.3. But fornication, and all uncleannesse, or covetousnesse, let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh Saints. (JG Smith)

6. "The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild seamew."
-Lord Byron (Macbeth)

9. Wealth, which the old man had rak'd and scraped together, now the boy doth game and drink away; for Now the boy doth game and drink away the wealth, which the old man had raked and scraped together. (Holmes)

10. Inversion; as, "Oft did the harvest to the sickle yield" instead of, "The harvest did often yield to their sickle." (Waddy)

11. "you may search the wide world over, and you will not find one like him." (Raub)

12. Isa. 34:4. -"And the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll." Here, (in the Heb.) the word "heavens" is emphasized by being, by Hyperbaton, put last: "And they shall be rolled together as a scroll -the heavens." (Bullinger, 693)

13. Yet I'll not shed her blood,
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow...
--Shakespeare, Othello, 5.2.3 (Vickers 495)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures Figures of disorder, anastrophe, hysteron, proteron, hypallage, hysterologia, parenthesis, epergesis, tmesis, synchysis, metathesis, figures of syntax, hyperbole
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Daniel Etigson
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No