hen·​di·​a·​dys | \ hen-ˈdī-ə-dəs How to pronounce hendiadys (audio) \

Definition of hendiadys

: the expression of an idea by the use of usually two independent words connected by and (such as nice and warm) instead of the usual combination of independent word and its modifier (such as nicely warm)

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William Shakespeare often used hendiadys. For example, his character Macbeth, speaking of the passage of life, says "It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing." For Shakespeare, the construction "sound and fury" was more effective than "furious sound." The word hendiadys is a modification of the Greek phrase hen dia dyoin. Given that hen dia dyoin literally means "one through two," it's a perfect parent for a word that describes the expression of a single concept using two words, as in the phrase "rough and tough." As you can imagine, hendiadys is a common element in everyday speech and writing.

First Known Use of hendiadys

1589, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hendiadys

Late Latin hendiadys, hendiadyoin, modification of Greek hen dia dyoin, literally, one through two

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The first known use of hendiadys was in 1589

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Cite this Entry

“Hendiadys.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hendiadys. Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

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