Rhetorical Devices: Symploce

In rhetoric, symploce is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of two or more clauses or sentences and another word or phrase is repeated at the end of them. It combines both anaphora and epistrophe in neighboring clauses or sentences.

The combination of anaphora and epistrophe adds a powerful rhythm to the speech, drives emphasis and appeals to the audience's emotions. It adds a sense of balance that neither anaphora and epistrophe can do alone.


Here are some examples:

Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. Bill Clinton, “Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Prayer Service Address” (23 April 1995)

A special problem with the employees of an advertising agency is that each one watches the other one very carefully to see if one gets a carpet before the other, to see if one has an assistant before the other, or to see if one makes an extra nickel before the other. David Ogilvy
WeWriteSpeeches rhetorical device explainer card on symploce
There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin. John F. Kennedy, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (26 June 1963)

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)

Further reading

  • Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric Visit
  • Wikipedia Visit
  • Nordquist, Richard: "Definition and Examples of Symploce in Rhetoric", ThoughtCo Visit
  • Baldwin, Emma: "Symploce", Poem Analysis Visit
  • Manner of Speaking: Symploce Visit
  • American Rhetoric: Symploce Visit