anaphora

noun

anaph·​o·​ra ə-ˈna-f(ə-)rə How to pronounce anaphora (audio)
1
: repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect
Lincoln's "we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground" is an example of anaphora
compare epistrophe
2
: use of a grammatical substitute (such as a pronoun or a pro-verb) to refer to the denotation of a preceding word or group of words
also : the relation between a grammatical substitute and its antecedent

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What is the difference between anaphora and epistrophe?

An anaphora is a rhetorical device in which a word or expression is repeated at the beginning of a number of sentences, clauses, or phrases. A well-known example of this may be found in the speech given by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons on June 4th, 1940: "We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air…" The anaphora may be contrasted with the epistrophe, which is similar in nature, but describes the repetition of a word which occurs at the end of a phrase, sentence, or clause, rather than the beginning. A famous example of epistrophe is found in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: "…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Examples of anaphora in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Throughout the book, Evans uses anaphora in conjunction with evocative imagery. Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anaphora.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Late Latin, from Late Greek, from Greek, act of carrying back, reference, from anapherein to carry back, refer, from ana- + pherein to carry — more at bear

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anaphora was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near anaphora

Cite this Entry

“Anaphora.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anaphora. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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