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aposiopesis

[ap-uh-sahy-uh-pee-sis]
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noun, plural ap·o·si·o·pe·ses [ap-uh-sahy-uh-pee-seez] /ˌæp əˌsaɪ əˈpi siz/. Rhetoric.
  1. a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed.

Origin of aposiopesis

1570–80; < Late Latin < Greek: literally, a full silence, equivalent to aposiōpē- (verbid stem of aposiōpáein to be fully silent; apo- apo- + siōpáein to be silent) + -sis -sis
Related formsap·o·si·o·pet·ic [ap-uh-sahy-uh-pet-ik] /ˌæp əˌsaɪ əˈpɛt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for aposiopesis

aposiopesis

noun plural -ses (-siːz)
  1. rhetoric the device of suddenly breaking off in the middle of a sentence as if unwilling to continue
Derived Formsaposiopetic (ˌæpəʊˌsaɪəˈpɛtɪk), adjective

Word Origin

C16: via Late Latin from Greek, from aposiōpaein to be totally silent, from siōpaein to be silent
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

Word Origin and History for aposiopesis

n.

rhetorical artifice wherein the speaker suddenly breaks off in the middle of a sentence, 1570s, from Latin, from Greek aposiopesis "a becoming silent," also as a rhetorical figure, from apo- (see apo-) + siope "silence."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper