Team English - Examples.com
Created by: Team English - Examples.com, Last Updated: April 25, 2024


In rhetoric and literary composition, the deliberate use of epistrophe is far more than a stylistic flourish; it’s a strategic tool. Like a skilled orator who captivates the audience, epistrophe reinforces ideas through repetition at the end of successive clauses. As a subtle motif in music can emphasize themes, epistrophe deepens the text’s impact, enhancing persuasion and memorability. This careful crafting by writers or speakers encourages a deeper engagement with the text, enriching the audience’s experience by reinforcing the key messages and emotional resonance of the speech or narrative.

What is an Epistrophe?

An epistrophe is a literary and rhetorical device where the same word or phrase is repeated at the end of consecutive sentences or clauses. This technique is used to emphasize a particular idea or theme, making the statement more memorable and impactful. By repeating the same ending, the speaker or writer aims to leave a strong impression on the audience, often enhancing the emotional effect of the message.

Pronunciation of Epistrophe

The pronunciation of “epistrophe” can be broken down into phonetic syllables to make it easier to articulate. It is pronounced as /ɪˈpɪstrəfi/. Here’s how you can say it:

  • e as in “bed” (the ‘e’ has a short vowel sound)
  • pis as in “lisp”
  • tro as in “trophy” (the ‘o’ has a short vowel sound)
  • phe pronounced as “fee”

So, you say it as: eh-PISS-troh-fee.

When Do We Use Epistrophe?

Epistrophe is a technique where the same word or phrase is repeated at the end of sentences or clauses. It’s used in writing and speaking to make a strong impact and ensure that an idea sticks in the audience’s mind. Here are a few typical situations where you might see epistrophe used:

  1. In Speeches: Politicians or activists often use epistrophe in speeches to make their points more memorable and to stir up emotions.
  2. In Books and Poems: Writers use epistrophe to add a rhythmic quality to their writing, making the text more poetic and expressive.
  3. In Advertising: Advertisements frequently use repetition at the end of phrases to make their slogans catchier and more likely to stick in your mind.
  4. During Presentations: In presentations, using epistrophe can help emphasize key points, making them more noticeable and easier to remember.
  5. In Classrooms: Teachers might use epistrophe when summarizing lessons to help students remember important information.

Effect of Epistrophe

Epistrophe is a technique that repeats the same word or phrase at the end of sentences. Here’s why it’s used and the effect it has:

  1. Stronger Emphasis: Epistrophe helps highlight important ideas. By repeating phrases, it makes certain points stand out more, helping the audience remember them.
  2. Adds Rhythm: This repetition can make speech or text sound more rhythmic and pleasing. It’s like adding a beat to music, which makes the content more engaging and easier to follow.
  3. Increases Emotional Impact: Epistrophe can make the audience feel more deeply. Whether it’s excitement, urgency, or sadness, repeating key phrases can intensify these emotions.
  4. Boosts Persuasion: In speeches and advertising, epistrophe can make arguments stronger. Repeating key phrases can convince people more effectively, nudging them towards a certain action or belief.
  5. Creates Unity: By using the same ending words, epistrophe ties different parts of a speech or a piece of writing together. This makes the whole message feel more connected and powerful.

Epistrophe vs. Anaphora

Epistrophe vs. Anaphora
DefinitionRepetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences.Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.
EffectEmphasizes the conclusion of statements, making the ending memorable.Emphasizes the beginning of statements, setting a tone from the start.
PurposeUsed to reinforce the final thoughts and leave a strong impression on the audience.Used to build rhythm and cohesion right from the beginning, guiding the audience’s understanding.
Emotional ImpactOften increases the emotional intensity toward the end of a passage, building up to a climax.Creates a strong, emotional hook from the start, maintaining a consistent tone throughout.
Common UsesFrequently found in political speeches, persuasive writing, and poetic forms.Common in speeches, religious texts, and poetry to create a thematic consistency.

Examples of Epistrophe in literature

  1. “But time is of the essence; time is of the hour; time is of the day.” – This means time is important at every moment.
  2. “Love never fails, love never fades, love never dies.” – It shows that love is eternal and enduring.
  3. “They saw no evil, they heard no evil, they spoke no evil.” – It emphasizes that they avoided all wrongdoing.
  4. “I came, I saw, I conquered.” – This famous saying means I arrived, observed, and succeeded.
  5. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” – It means to make an effort, search, discover, and never give up.
  6. “I want my money right here and right now!” – It expresses the urgency of wanting money immediately.
  7. “We will fight in the fields, we will fight in the streets, we will fight in the hills.” – It emphasizes determination to fight in various locations.
  8. “The water was deep, the water was dark, the water was cold.” – It describes the water using three different qualities.
  9. “He was brave, he was bold, he was fearless.” – It highlights three positive traits of someone’s character.
  10. “She laughed, she danced, she sang.” – It describes joyful actions performed by someone.

Examples of Epistrophe in Sentences

  1. “I believe in you, I trust in you, I have faith in you.”This sentence emphasizes the speaker’s confidence in someone by repeating phrases of trust and belief.
  2. “She dreams big, she works hard, she achieves greatness.”This highlights the progression from dreaming to achieving by repeating actions associated with success.
  3. “He laughed at the joke, he chuckled at the irony, he grinned at the absurdity.” It describes different reactions to humor, using repetition to emphasize each response.
  4. “The sun sets, the stars twinkle, the night deepens.”This sentence paints a picture of the evening, emphasizing the progression of twilight.
  5. “They stumbled, they fell, they rose again.”It illustrates a cycle of failure and resilience, with each action repeated for emphasis.
  6. “She studied diligently, she practiced tirelessly, she excelled effortlessly.” This shows the process of achieving success through dedication and effort.
  7. “He ran fast, he sprinted harder, he crossed the finish line first.”It describes increasing speed and eventual victory in a race.
  8. “The rain poured down, the thunder roared, the lightning flashed.”This vividly describes a storm, with each element emphasized through repetition.
  9. “She sang softly, she hummed gently, she lullabied the baby to sleep.” It illustrates the progression of soothing actions to help a baby sleep.
  10. “He apologized sincerely, he promised earnestly, he vowed never to repeat the mistake.” This shows the sincerity and commitment in making amends for a mistake.

Examples of Epistrophe in Poetry

  1. From Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”:
    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.”

    Explanation: The speaker emphasizes the long journey ahead by repeating “miles to go before I sleep.”
  2. From Langston Hughes’ “Dreams”:
    “For if dreams die
    Life is a broken-winged bird
    That cannot fly.
    For when dreams go
    Life is a barren field
    Frozen with snow.”

    Explanation: Hughes repeats “For if dreams” and “For when dreams go” to stress the significance of dreams in life.
  3. From Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”:
    “But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
    His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
    His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
    So he opens his throat to sing.”

    Explanation: Angelou repeats “dreams” and “sing” to contrast freedom with confinement and express the bird’s longing for liberation.
  4. From Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death”:
    “We passed the school where children played,
    Their lessons scarcely done;
    We passed the fields of gazing grain,
    We passed the setting sun.”

    Explanation: Dickinson emphasizes the passage of time by repeating “We passed.”
  5. From William Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”:
    “Five years have passed; five summers, with the length
    Of five long winters! and again I hear
    These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
    With a sweet inland murmur.”

    Explanation: Wordsworth repeats “five years” and “five summers” to underscore the passage of time.
  6. From Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”:
    “I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
    And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

    Explanation: Whitman emphasizes individuality and connection by repeating “myself” and “assume.”
  7. From Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”:
    “Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’
    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
    On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door.”

    Explanation: Poe repeats “nevermore” to create a haunting refrain.
  8. From T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:
    “In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.”

    Explanation: Eliot emphasizes movement and transience by repeating “come and go.”
  9. From Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”:
    Is an art, like everything else.
    I do it exceptionally well.”

    Explanation: Plath repeats “dying” to assert control over death and emphasize mastery.
  10. From Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night”:
    “Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

    Explanation: Thomas repeats “rage” to urge defiance against death’s approach.

Examples of Epistrophe in Speeches

  1. Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” (1963):
    “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.” King repeats “I have a dream” to emphasize his vision of equality for all.
  2. John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address (1961):
    “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” Kennedy repeats “let the word go forth” to emphasize the transfer of leadership.
  3. Winston Churchill, “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” (1940):
    “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” Churchill repeats “we shall fight” to stress the determination to resist.
  4. Barack Obama, “Yes We Can” (2008):
    “Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.” Obama repeats “Yes, we can” to inspire confidence and unity.
  5. Susan B. Anthony, “Women’s Rights to the Suffrage” (1873):
    “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.” Anthony repeats “we, the people” to emphasize inclusivity in the fight for suffrage.
  6. Nelson Mandela, “I Am Prepared to Die” (1964):
    “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.” Mandela repeats “I have fought” to highlight his commitment to justice.
  7. Malala Yousafzai, United Nations Address (2013):
    “We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” Malala repeats “we realize” to underscore the significance of speaking up against oppression.
  8. Ronald Reagan, “Tear Down This Wall” (1987):
    “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”Reagan repeats “tear down this wall” to demand the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.
  9. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Declaration of Sentiments” (1848):
    “He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.” Stanton repeats “he has made her” to highlight the injustices faced by married women.
  10. Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (1933):
    “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Roosevelt repeats “fear” to address the anxieties of the American people during the Great Depression.

Examples of Epistrophe in Movies

  1. “The Dark Knight” (2008):
    “Why so serious?” The Joker repeats “Why so serious?” to emphasize his chaotic and unpredictable nature.
  2. “Dead Poets Society” (1989):
    “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” The phrase “Carpe diem” is repeated to emphasize the importance of seizing opportunities and living life to the fullest.
  3. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003):
    “But it is not this day. This day we fight!” Aragorn repeats “this day” to emphasize the determination to fight against overwhelming odds.
  4. “Jerry Maguire” (1996):
    “Show me the money!” This phrase is repeated to emphasize the importance of financial success.
  5. “Gladiator” (2000):
    “Strength and honor.” Maximus repeats “strength and honor” to emphasize the values he lives by.
  6. “The Lion King” (1994):
    “Remember who you are.” Mufasa’s ghost repeats this phrase to remind Simba of his true identity and responsibilities.
  7. “Braveheart” (1995):
    “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” William Wallace repeats “they may take” to emphasize the Scots’ determination to fight for their freedom.
  8. “Forrest Gump” (1994):
    “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The phrase “life is like a box of chocolates” is repeated to underscore the unpredictability of life.
  9. “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994):
    “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” Andy repeats “hope is” to emphasize the importance of hope in maintaining one’s humanity.
  10. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939):
    “There’s no place like home.” Dorothy repeats “there’s no place like” to express her longing for home and the comfort it brings.

Examples of Epistrophe for Students

  1. “Believe in yourself, work hard, achieve your goals.”
    This phrase encourages students to have confidence in their abilities, put in effort, and reach their objectives.
  2. “Study diligently, practice consistently, excel academically.”
    It emphasizes the importance of regular study habits and consistent practice to succeed academically.
  3. “Ask questions, seek guidance, succeed academically.”
    This highlights the value of seeking help and guidance when needed to achieve academic success.
  4. “Stay focused, manage your time effectively, reach your potential.”
    It stresses the need for concentration, efficient time management, and striving to fulfill one’s capabilities.
  5. “Dream big, set goals, accomplish great things.”
    Encourages students to have ambitious aspirations, establish clear objectives, and achieve remarkable accomplishments.
  6. “Read daily, explore new ideas, expand your knowledge.”
    Emphasizes the importance of regular reading, curiosity, and continuous learning to broaden one’s understanding.
  7. “Stay organized, stay motivated, achieve academic success.”
    It underscores the benefits of staying structured, maintaining enthusiasm, and attaining success in academics.
  8. “Participate actively, engage with peers, thrive academically.”
    Encourages active involvement in classroom activities, interaction with classmates, and flourishing academically as a result.
  9. “Embrace challenges, persevere through difficulties, grow intellectually.”
    Highlights the idea of facing challenges positively, persisting through hardships, and experiencing intellectual growth as a result.
  10. “Strive for excellence, challenge yourself, become a lifelong learner.”
    Encourages students to pursue excellence, push their limits, and adopt a mindset of continual learning throughout their lives.

What is an example of Epistrophe in the Bible?

In Psalm 136, the phrase “His love endures forever” is repeated at the end of each verse. For example:

  • “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”
  • “To him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.” This repetition reinforces the enduring nature of God’s love, serving as a powerful reminder throughout the psalm.

Why Do Writers Use Epistrophe?

Writers use epistrophe to leave a lasting impression on the reader or listener. By repeating words or phrases at the end of successive clauses or sentences, writers can create a rhythmic pattern that emphasizes key points. This repetition helps to reinforce ideas, evoke emotions, and enhance the overall impact of the writing. Epistrophe is particularly effective in speeches, poetry, and persuasive writing, where emphasis and memorability are essential.

How to identify an Epistrophe?

Identifying epistrophe involves recognizing the pattern of repetition in a text. Look for words or phrases that are repeated at the end of successive clauses or sentences. These repetitions create a rhythmic structure and emphasize key ideas or themes. By paying attention to this pattern of repetition, readers can identify epistrophe in written or spoken content. It’s important to note that while epistrophe often involves repetition at the end of phrases, it can also occur at the end of sentences or clauses within a sentence.

AI Generator

Text prompt

Add Tone

10 Examples of Public speaking

20 Examples of Gas lighting