chi·​as·​mus kī-ˈaz-məs How to pronounce chiasmus (audio)
: an inverted relationship between the syntactic elements of parallel phrases (as in Goldsmith's to stop too fearful, and too faint to go)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Third, there are several instances of chiasmus, an A-B-B-A pattern. Sam Bray, Washington Post, 23 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chiasmus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


New Latin, from Greek chiasmos, from chiazein to mark with a chi

First Known Use

1871, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chiasmus was in 1871

Dictionary Entries Near chiasmus

Cite this Entry

“Chiasmus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

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