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."See also negative theology.

Nearby words

  1. aponeurosis,
  2. aponeurositis,
  3. aponeurotic fibroma,
  4. aponeurotomy,
  5. apopemptic,
  6. apophatic,
  7. apophis,
  8. apophonic,
  9. apophony,
  10. apophthegm

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 formsap·o·phat·ic [ap-uh-fat-ik] /ˌæp əˈfæt ɪk/, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for apophatic



rhetoric the device of mentioning a subject by stating that it will not be mentionedI shall not discuss his cowardice or his treachery

Word Origin for apophasis

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

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