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 anacolutha (audio) \ also anacoluthons

Definition of anacoluthon

: 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")

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Other Words from anacoluthon

anacoluthic \ ˌa-​nə-​kə-​ˈlü-​thik How to pronounce anacoluthic (audio) \ adjective
anacoluthically \ ˌa-​nə-​kə-​ˈlü-​thi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anacoluthically (audio) \ adverb

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.

First Known Use of anacoluthon

circa 1706, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for anacoluthon

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

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Time Traveler for anacoluthon

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The first known use of anacoluthon was circa 1706

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Cite this Entry

“Anacoluthon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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