Also found in: Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


n. pl. chi·as·mi (-mī′)
A rhetorical inversion of the second of two parallel structures, as in "Each throat / Was parched, and glazed each eye" (Samuel Taylor Coleridge).

[New Latin chīasmus, from Greek khīasmos, syntactic inversion, from khīazein, to invert or mark with an X; see chiasma.]


n, pl -mi (-maɪ)
(Rhetoric) rhetoric reversal of the order of words in the second of two parallel phrases: he came in triumph and in defeat departs.
[C19: from New Latin, from Greek khiasmos crisscross arrangement; see chiasma]
chiastic adj


(kaɪˈæz məs)

n., pl. -mi (-mī).
a reversal in the order of words in two parallel phrases, as in “He went in, out went she.”
[1870–75; < Greek chiasmós; see chiasma]
chi•as′tic (-ˈæs tɪk) adj.


a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases, as “flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike” (Coleridge). — chiastic, adj.
See also: Rhetoric and Rhetorical Devices


The reversal in a second parallel phrase of the order of words in an initial phrase.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.chiasmus - inversion in the second of two parallel phrases
rhetorical device - a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
References in periodicals archive ?
Now on to the more, um, normal examples of spoonerisms, transpositions, and chiasmus.
A: Chiasmus Q: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter is an autobiographical work by whom?
Even though part of the humour that comes from this proverb springs from the violation of morality veiled under an impudence which eggs on the individuals to reap where they do not sow, the other part of the risibility seems to emerge from the repetition of the verb "to grab" which runs in connection with the figure of speech named chiasmus whose function is not solely to bring out the musicality of the proverbs but also its funny aspect.
It is the non-reversibility of the look, the technological interruption of the chiasmus of normal worldly experience, that defines her "ontological status," per Cavell, precisely as spectator.
2) In the 428 pages of Vendler's book we find examples of well-known and little-known formal features, such as: perfect and imperfect quatrain rhyme; chiasmus (even triple chiasmus, in 'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death'); and embraced rhyme.
Anne's contributions to this exchange have often been described as "lyric," most persuasively by Keith Thomas, who compares the rhetorical form of her speech with that of Coleridge's conversation poems and treats Wentworth's answering letter as a chiasmus.
The need to think in "a universal language, capable of expressing new and universally valid categories," presupposes, in short, not an impoverishment of theology as such, but the need to return to the role of "doctor-bishops" who, in chiasmus with "lay theologians," are theologians in the primitive sense, because they "speak with God," and from this dialogue "draw the essential profile of the work of government and of teaching [that makes them] truly capable of being interpreters of a situation, of an epoch, of a people, and of its culture.
These ludic curatorial poems are the weakest in the book, in which Olsen's fondness for chiasmus and anadiplosis can become as tedious as slogans and the puns and phonemic play are too heavy-handed.
What the poet can do is invoke the immanence of nature by articulating its resistance to textual enframing, employing figural logic--the correspondences of metaphor, the extensions of catachresis, the attributions of metonymy, the substitutions of synecdoche, the inversions of chiasmus, the ruptures of anacoluthon, the subversions of irony, the opacities of paradox, the invocations of apostrophe, and the mimicries of onomatopoeia (to gather but a handful or two of pertinent figures)--to connote nature's diversity, flux, and supersession of univocal diminution.
In fact, neither authors' biographies match their work and there is a kind of chiasmus between life and work in the two writers' novels: Kazantzakis treated his women kindly in life and badly in his work and Durrell, who may have abused and may have had an incestuous relationship with his sister elevated them in his work (Nichols 9).
11) Here is yet another instance of the kind of chiasmus that Jeffrey Shoulson discovers in Milton's "understanding of the dialectical nature of accommodation, upward and downward, divine and human" (Milton and the Rabbis 188).
with figures such as anaphor, chiasmus, and many others under its