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n. pl. ap·o·si·o·pe·ses (-sēz)
A sudden breaking off of a thought in the middle of a sentence, as though the speaker were unwilling or unable to continue.

[Late Latin aposiōpēsis, from Greek, from aposiōpān, to become silent : apo-, intensive pref.; see apo- + siōpān, to be silent (from siōpē, silence).]

ap′o·si′o·pet′ic (-pĕt′ĭk) adj.


n, pl -ses (-siːz)
(Rhetoric) rhetoric the device of suddenly breaking off in the middle of a sentence as if unwilling to continue
[C16: via Late Latin from Greek, from aposiōpaein to be totally silent, from siōpaein to be silent]
aposiopetic adj


(ˌæp əˌsaɪ əˈpi sɪs)

n., pl. -ses (-sēz).
a sudden breaking off in the midst of a thought, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed, as in “You'll never believe - but of course you won't.”
[1570–80; < Late Latin < Greek: literally, a full silence <apo- apo- + siōpáein to be silent]
ap`o•si`o•pet′ic (-ˈpɛt ɪk) adj.


- Stopping in the middle of a statement upon realizing that someone's feelings are hurt or about to be hurt; when a sentence trails off or falls silent, that is an aposiopesis.
See also related terms for hurt.


a sudden breaking off in the middle of a sentence as if unable or unwilling to proceed. — aposiopetic, adj.
See also: Rhetoric and Rhetorical Devices


The act of breaking off midway through a sentence as if unwilling or unable to continue .
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.aposiopesis - breaking off in the middle of a sentence (as by writers of realistic conversations)
rhetorical device - a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
References in periodicals archive ?
Aposiopeses are vital, not only because they help illuminate the poem's principles of narrative organization, but also because they "save" elements of the pilgrim's journey that would otherwise be sacrificed to the deep, but narrow form of allegory.
Aposiopeses (excluding those of the "inexpressibility" type, which occur more frequently as one moves toward the vision of God) occur in various forms--in the voice of either the poet or the characters--at least eighteen times within the three canticles of the poem.
And certainly the mould was the same, and the intonation and the smile, the same that had once enchanted Bergotte, who for his part too had preserved the individual rhythm of his phrases, his interjections, his aposiopeses, his epithets, but with all this rhetorical apparatus no longer had anything to say.