Chiasmus – Definition, Pronunication and Examples | What does the Rhetorical Device Chiasmus Mean?

Chiasmus is a figure of speech that contains two successive phrases or clauses that are parallel in syntax but reverse the order of the analogous words. In more simplification, the order of words in the first phrase or clause is reversed in the second phrase or clause. It’s derived from the Greek term for the letter X or for Cross over. It’s pronounced as Ki – AZ-mus. Its also termed “reverse parallelism “ or “syntactical inversion”. In this, both grammar and concepts are reversed.

Chiasmus Definition | What does Chiasmus Mean?

Chiasmus basically helps in reversing a phrase back directly on itself or it can be two phrases, which the second of which carries the same meaning as the first. This takes the help of synonyms to make the sentence reversal.

  • The first example is ‘never allow a fool to kiss you or never kiss a fool’. In the sentence, it’s clearly seen that two ideas are together which have a similar meaning. But they go in an opposite manner within the same statement.
  • Love as though you will sometime hate, hate as though you will sometime love.
  • He lives to work, he doesn’t work to live.
  • Do as I say not as I do.
  • She walked to church, to the pub walked he.
  • I said what I meant because I meant what is said.
  • Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

How Chiasmus is Used in Writing?

The use of Chiasmus is seen in all forms of writing. It could be either novels or speeches, lyrics of songs, or drama theories. The reason for using Chiasmus is that poetry can be easily observed in any kind of language manipulation. Dramatic plays written in poetic verses help to develop a strong beginning for Chiasmus.

Chiasmus Purpose in Literature

  • Like other rhetorical devices, Chiasmus has its own beneficial needs.
  • Unlike other literary devices changes in the meaning of a sentence depends upon its need to present. Whereas in Chiasmus the content is not changed at all but it gets appeared in a more presentable way.
  • The way any subject is presented, the readers understand it very easily and helps to long last in mind for a longer time. On other hand, if something is presented in a complex way then it becomes difficult to last in mind for longer periods.

Difference between Chiasmus and Antimetabole?

Both Chiasmus and Antimetabloe are similar rhetorical devices that have very similar meanings. By definition, Antimetabole means the reuse of words in the first and second halves of the sentence. Talking about Chiasmus, it doesn’t feature the repetition of words. It contains two phrases, where the second phrase is inverted to the first one.

Examples of Chiasmus in Poetry

  • “Love without end, and without measure Grace”, by John Milton, Paradise Lost.
  • “Pleasures a sin, and sometimes sins a pleasure” by Lord Byron, “Don Juan”.
  • “His time a moment, and a point his space” by Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man”.

Functions of Chiasmus

  • Chiasmus is a unique rhetorical device that is used by writers to create a special artistic effect in their writing. This in turn helps them to communicate important things they want to discuss.
  • Since Chiasmus comes from a Greek word that holds the meaning of crossing over. It is a grammatical structure that inverts a previous phrase. For example, You say something to someone, and then you say something very similar but it’s flipped with its meaning.
  • Chiasmus usually occurs on the sentence level, but it can also be used in talking about broader paragraphs. A paragraph that usually talks about town, state, country, and the world. This again goes back in the reverse order at the end.

Importance of Chiasmus

  • Chiasmus has a highly symmetrical structure, and usually makes the sentence looks complete.
  • A chiasmus can even leave out many important details or considerations that make a big difference to the author’s point.
  • In rhetoric structure, audience perception is very important as Chiasmus is a great way to make readers become conscious about your writing as it looks more complete.
  • Chiasmus makes use of parallelism as it has its own importance. Parallelism is effective as our brain grasps it more easily. When we see parallelism in one phrase and the same parallelism is seen in another phrase, then it becomes easy to grasp the efficiency of the sentence.

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FAQs on Chiasmus

1. Is Chiasmus a syntax or diction?

Chiasmus is a statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed. The sentences are parallel in syntax.

2. Why would a writer use chiasmus?

The use of chiasmus in the writer’s script makes the audience remember any statement as impactful. Writers often struggle to make people understand what they have written this is so Chiasmus is used.

3. What is Chiastic story structure?

Chiastic structure is a literary technique in which narrative motifs and other textual passages are used. An example would be two ideas presented together which have different variants.

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