Rhetorical Device: Polysyndeton

Polysyndeton is a rhetorical device where a writer or speaker uses multiple conjunctions in close succession for dramatic effect. It is often used to create a sense of urgency, to slow down the pace or to emphasize a point. It is the opposite of asyndeton, which is the use of few or no conjunctions. An example of polysyndeton could be, "we went to the store, and the park, and the mall, and the library."


We must change that deleterious environment of the 80's, that environment which was characterized by greed, and hatred, and selfishness, and mega-mergers, and debt overhang. Barbara Charline Jordan, "1992 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address" (13 July 1992)

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. William Butler Yeats, "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" (1899)

I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope, and the determination of the city of West Berlin. John F. Kennedy, "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" (26 June 1963)

WWS rhetorical device explainer card on polysyndeton
We stand at Rossa’s grave not in sadness but rather in exaltation of spirit that it has been given to us to come thus into so close a communion with that brave and splendid Gael. Splendid and holy causes are served by men who are themselves splendid and holy. O’Donovan Rossa was splendid in the proud manhood of him, splendid in the heroic grace of him, splendid in the Gaelic strength and clarity and truth of him.Padraig Pearse, "Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa’s Funeral" (1 August 1915)

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind." And it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind and cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps upon the earth to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Bible, "Book of Genesis" (1:24-25)

Let the whitefolks have their money and power and segregation and sarcasm and big houses and schools and lawns like carpets, and books, and mostly—mostly—let them have their whiteness. Maya Angelou, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"

Further reading

  • Wikipedia: Polysyndeton Visit
  • Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric Visit
  • LiteraryTerms.net: Polysyndeton Visit
  • University of Houston-Victoria: Polysyndeton and Asyndeton Visit