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[uh-pof-uh-sis] /əˈpɒf ə sɪs/
Rhetoric. denial of one's intention to speak of a subject that is at the same time named or insinuated, as “I shall not mention Caesar's avarice, nor his cunning, nor his morality.”.
Theology. knowledge, understanding, or description of God through negative statements about qualities and characteristics that God does not possess, as "God is not confined by space or time.".
Compare cataphasis.
Origin of apophasis
1650-60; < Late Latin < Greek: a denial, equivalent to apópha(nai) to say no, deny (apo- apo- + phánai to say) + -sis -sis
Related forms
[ap-uh-fat-ik] /ˌæp əˈfæt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for apophatic


(rhetoric) the device of mentioning a subject by stating that it will not be mentioned: I shall not discuss his cowardice or his treachery
Word Origin
C17: via Latin from Greek: denial, from apo- + phanai to say
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for apophatic

pertaining to a knowledge of God obtained through negation

Word Origin

Gk. apophatikos

Usage Note

theology's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for apophatic

"involving a mention of something one feigns to deny; involving knowledge obtained by negation," 1850, from Greek apophatikos, from apophasis "denial, answer," from apophanai "to speak off," from apo- "off" (see apo-) + phanai "to speak," related to pheme "voice" (see fame (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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