Monday, March 20, 2017

Figures of Speech: What is Antimetabole?

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” This sentence from President Kennedy’s inaugural address is today the best known example of antimetabole.

The work comes from the Greek, meaning “turn about.” Another example, this from President Obama speaking to Iraq War veterans: “You stood up for America; now America must stand up for you.”

A formal definition (from Wkipedia): “the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order; for example, "I know what I like, and I like what I know"

I am not sure many students would be adept at handling this device. However, it might worth introducing it to them to increase their awareness and admiration of the tools of wordsmithing.


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