• synonyms


  1. the interpolation of one or more words between the parts of a compound word, as be thou ware for beware.
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Origin of tmesis

1580–90; < Late Latin tmēsis < Greek tmḗsis a cutting, equivalent to tmē- (variant stem of témnein to cut) + -sis -sis
Related formstmet·ic [tuh-met-ik] /təˈmɛt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tmesis

Historical Examples of tmesis

  • Or he might by tmesis, more liberally used, have further widened the field for its employment.

    Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age, Vol. 1 of 3

    W. E. Gladstone

  • His abstinence from inflexion absolutely, and from tmesis almost entirely, in the use of , I think deserves remark.

  • Perhaps we might read ἐπὶ δὲ γᾶς πεδιοπλοκτύπου ὠσὶν χρίμπι βοὰ, by tmesis, for ἐπιχρίμπτεται.

  • Sometimes he indulges in tmesis which reminds us of Ennius: inque pediri, disque supata, ordia prima.

British Dictionary definitions for tmesis


  1. interpolation of a word or group of words between the parts of a compound word
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Word Origin for tmesis

C16: via Latin from Greek, literally: a cutting, from temnein to cut
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 tmesis

1570s, from Greek tmesis "a cutting," related to temnein "to cut," tome "a cutting" (see tome). The separation of the elements of a compound word by the interposition of another word or words (e.g. a whole nother).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper