apophasis was our Word of the Day on 08/09/2014. Hear the podcast!
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The Sneaky Roots of apophasis
Apophasis is a sly debater's trick, a way of sneaking an issue into the discussion while maintaining plausible deniability. It should come as no surprise, then, that the roots of apophasis lie in the concept of denial-the word was adopted into English from Late Latin, where it means "repudiation," and derives from the Greek apophanai, meaning "to deny." (Apophanai, in turn, comes from apo-, meaning "away from" or "off," and phanai, meaning "to say.") This particular rhetorical stunt is also known by the labels preterition and paraleipsis (which is a Greek word for "omission"), but those words are rarer than apophasis. Incidentally, don’t confuse apophasis with apophysis; the latter is a scientific word for an expanded or projecting part of an organism.
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