anastrophe

noun
anas·​tro·​phe | \ə-ˈnas-trə-(ˌ)fē \

Definition of anastrophe 

: inversion of the usual syntactical order of words for rhetorical effect — compare hysteron proteron

Did You Know?

Powerful you have become Dooku, the dark side I sense in you. Fans of Star Wars will recognize Yoda's line in Attack of the Clones. Others might guess that Yoda is the speaker because of the unconventional syntax that is the hallmark of Yoda's speech. (In typical Yoda fashion, the subject is second instead of first in both clauses-it follows a predicate adjective and the direct object, respectively.) The name for this kind of syntactical inversion is anastrophe, from the Greek verb anastrephein, meaning "to turn back." President John F. Kennedy employed anastrophe for rhetorical effect when he inverted the typical positive-to-negative parallelism in his famous line "Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country." In poetry, anastrophe is often used to create rhythm, as in these lines from Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky": "So rested he by the Tumtum tree, / And stood awhile in thought."

First Known Use of anastrophe

circa 1550, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for anastrophe

Medieval Latin, from Greek anastrophē, literally, turning back, from anastrephein to turn back, from ana- + strephein to turn

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about anastrophe

Share anastrophe

Listen to Our Podcast about anastrophe

Statistics for anastrophe

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for anastrophe

The first known use of anastrophe was circa 1550

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on anastrophe

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about anastrophe

Comments on anastrophe

What made you want to look up anastrophe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a trusted follower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!