: syntactical inconsistency or incoherence within a sentence; especially : a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another
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Looking at examples of -- never mind that, we can't think of any -- let us look at the history of "anacoluthon." (Or maybe we can think of an example. The shift in the preceding sentence from "looking at examples of" to "let us look at the root of" is one!) "Anacoluthon" traces back to Greek "anakolouthos," which means "inconsistent" and is a compound of "an-" ("not") and "akolouthos" ("following"). Anacolutha (the word's plural form) frequently occur in speech and in literary writing especially to express excited or distraught emotion or thoughts.
Shakespeare uses anacoluthon to express the king's emotion in this line from Henry V: "Rather proclaim it, Westmorelan, through my host, / That he which hath no stomach to this fight, / Let him depart."
"The anacoluthon is not a trope of meaning, like metaphor or metonymy, but it is rather a disruption in a meaningful pattern." -- From Yasco Horsman's 2011 book Theaters of Justice
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What word meaning "follower" or "one who assists a member of the clergy in a liturgical service by performing minor duties" is a descendant of "akolouthos"? The answer is ...
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