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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 ?
Aposiopesis is the particular rhetorical device employed by the poet to tell the reader that about which he could speak but will not.
Here we get Pound's Browning, the master of the dramatic monologue, but Browning's tortured pentameter has been "fractured" (Carpenter) into iambic tetrameters where aposiopesis mimics self-pity and distraction.
It might be objected that the difficulty derives from the aposiopesis rather than from the word "level," but one would be hard pressed to suggest any proper way of completing the phrase "looked again a level--.
recapitulates the dumbfounded aposiopesis of the poem's alienated title.
A wizard at maneuvering the tropes and figures of the medieval schoolboy's rhetoric, she makes use of many kinds of asymmetry, including aposiopesis ("a sudden breaking off of a thought in the middle of a sentence as though the speaker were unable or unwilling to continue"), antimetabole ("turning about"), asteismus ("refined, witty talk"), on through the alphabet of word and sound plays, including arrangement on the page.
The deferential aposiopesis that follows affirms Apollo's superior authority, but Castor nevertheless expresses doubt about the wisdom of the Delphic god's oracular mandate: "Phoebus, Phoebus .
When Oliver Goldsmith's Citizen of the World witnesses a tragedy-queen conveniently fall "into a fit," his companion exclaims upon the "horrors" evoked in spectators by this "true aposiopesis of modern tragedy.
aposiopesis and erotema); punctuation; plain style; adverbs (e.
In that traversal, from the sere, sunbaked plains of his first feature to the aqueous tourist sites of Mont-Saint-Michel and Versailles in his latest, the voice-over--perhaps the defining feature of Ma lick's cinema--has swollen from the thrilling folk ironies of Sissy Spacek's and Linda Manz's vernaculars in Badlands and Days of Heaven (1978), respectively, into sotto voce bombast, cloyingly reliant on such rhetorical forms as anaphora and aposiopesis.