Rhetorical Device: Epistrophe

Epistrophe is a rhetorical device often used in public speaking to emphasize a point or to create an emotional response from the listener by using repetition. By repeating the same word or phrase at the end of successive sentences or clauses, epistrophe can help create a memorable moment for the audience which increases understanding and appeal. It is sometimes called epiphora or antistrophe. When it is paired with anaphora it is called symploce.


If you had known the virtue of the the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring
And would conceive for what I gave the ring
And how unwillingly I left the ring
When nought would be accepted but the ring
You would abate the strength of your displeasure. William Shakespeare, "The Merchant of Venice: Act 5 Scene 1"

I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. Nelson Mandela, “First public speech after release from prison” (11 February 1990)

With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. Martin Luther King. Jr, “I Have a Dream” (28 August 1963)
WeWriteSpeeches rhetorical device explainer card on epistrophe
You're afraid to bleed. I said you're afraid to bleed. [As] long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people. But when it comes time to seeing your own churches being bombed and little black girls be murdered, you haven't got no blood.Malcolm X, “Message to the grassroots” (10 November 1963)

Further reading

  • Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric Visit
  • Wikipedia: Epistrophe Visit
  • Scopa, Sally: "Epistrophe", LitCharts Visit
  • Nordquist, Richard: "Definitions and Examples of Epistrophe", ThoughtCo Visit
  • Manner of Speaking: Epistrophe Visit
  • American Rhetoric: Epistrophe Visit