an·​a·​co·​lu·​thon ˌa-nə-kə-ˈlü-ˌthän How to pronounce anacoluthon (audio)
plural anacolutha ˌa-nə-kə-ˈlü-thə How to pronounce anacoluthon (audio) also anacoluthons
: syntactical inconsistency or incoherence within a sentence
especially : a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another (as in "you really ought—well, do it your own way")
anacoluthic adjective
anacoluthically adverb

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Anacoluthon Has Greek Roots

Looking at examples of - never mind that, we can't think of any - let us look at the history of "anacoluthon." (Or maybe we can think of an example. The shift in the preceding sentence from "looking at examples of" to "let us look at the root of" is one!) "Anacoluthon" traces back to Greek anakolouthos, which means "inconsistent" and is a compound of "an-" ("not") and "akolouthos" ("following"). Anacolutha (the word's plural form) frequently occur in speech and in literary writing especially to express excited or distraught emotion or thoughts.

Word History


Late Latin, from Late Greek anakolouthon inconsistency in logic, from Greek, neuter of anakolouthos inconsistent, from an- + akolouthos following, from ha-, a- together + keleuthos path

First Known Use

1583, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anacoluthon was in 1583


Dictionary Entries Near anacoluthon

Cite this Entry

“Anacoluthon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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