noun, plural syl·lep·ses [si-lep-seez] /sɪˈlɛp siz/. Grammar.
  1. the use of a word or expression to perform two syntactic functions, especially to modify two or more words of which at least one does not agree in number, case, or gender, as the use of are in Neither he nor we are willing.
Compare zeugma.

Origin of syllepsis

1570–80; < Medieval Latin syllēpsis < Greek sýllēpsis, equivalent to syl- syl- + lēb- (variant stem of lambánein to take) + -sis -sis
Related formssyl·lep·tic [si-lep-tik] /sɪˈlɛp tɪk/, adjectivesyl·lep·ti·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for sylleptic


noun plural -ses (-siːz)
  1. (in grammar or rhetoric) the use of a single sentence construction in which a verb, adjective, etc is made to cover two syntactical functions, as the verb form have in she and they have promised to come
  2. another word for zeugma
Derived Formssylleptic, adjectivesylleptically, adverb

Word Origin for syllepsis

C16: from Late Latin, from Greek sullēpsis, from sul- syn- + lēpsis a taking, from lambanein to take
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 sylleptic



from Late Latin syllepsis, from Greek syn "together" (see syn-) + lepsis "a taking," related to lambanein (see analemma).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper