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Word of the Day

Monday, July 25, 2016
Definitions for chiasmus
  1. Rhetoric. a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases, as in “He went to the country, to the town went she.”

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Citations for chiasmus
What Phillips likes best, however, is wordplay. Inversion, circumlocution, alliteration, assonance, chiasmus, paradox: there’s nothing he doesn’t go in for. “The unexamined life is surely worth living, but is the unlived life worth examining?” Joan Acocella, "This Is Your Life," The New Yorker, February 25, 2013
One well-known example of chiasmus is Quintillian's purported phrase "one does not (a) live to (b) eat; one (b) eats to (a) live." ... Other examples are Mae West's "it's not the men in my life [that matter], it's the life in my men." And then there is President John F. Kennedy's famous phrase, "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Joyce O. Lowrie, Sightings: Mirrors in Texts -- Texts in Mirrors, 2008
Origin of chiasmus
1870-1875
Chiasmus stems from the Greek word chiasmós meaning "crossing," and which in turn is formed on the root chi, the twenty-second letter of the Greek alphabet (X, χ). It entered English in the 1870s.
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