Rhetorical Device: Asyndeton

Asyndeton is a rhetorical device where conjunctions are omitted or left out between words, phrases, or clauses. It is most commonly used to create a sense of urgency and to add emphasis. It can also leave the audience with the impression that the list had been cut short - that there was more to say.
This is done by removing the pauses and conjunctions that would normally be found in the sentence, allowing the speaker to rapidly move the audience to the conclusion or climax of the speech.
Asyndeton is an effective tool for orators because it allows them to create an intense, focused connection with their audience, while also reinforcing their point. When asyndeton is used in a speech, the audience will often remember the conclusion or climax more vividly, making the speaker's point more impactful.


Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. John F. Kennedy, "Inaugural Address" (20 January 1961)

All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness. She has suffered in every respect by her association with the Western democracies and with the League of Nations, of which she has always been an obedient servant. Winston Churchill, "On the Munich Agreement, House of Commons" (5 October 1938)

WeWriteSpeeches rhetorical device explainer card on asyndeton
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, for the people, by the people shall not perish from the earth. Abraham Lincoln, "The Gettysburg Address" (19 November 1863)

And we know only one definition of freedom: It is Tone's definition; it is Mitchel's definition; it is Rossa's definition. Padraig Pearse, "Oration at Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa’s Funeral" (1 August 1915)

Further reading

  • Buckley School - Rhetorical device of the month: Asyndeton Visit
  • Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric Visit
  • Wikipedia: Asyndeton Visit
  • LitCharts: Asyndeton Visit
  • Nordquist, Richard: "Asyndeton" ThoughtCo Visit