aposiopesis

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n aposiopesis breaking off in the middle of a sentence (as by writers of realistic conversations)
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Aposiopesis (Rhet) A figure of speech in which the speaker breaks off suddenly, as if unwilling or unable to state what was in his mind; as, “I declare to you that his conduct -- but I can not speak of that, here.”
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n aposiopesis In rhetoric, sudden reticence; the suppression by a speaker or writer of something which he seemed to be about to say; the sudden termination of a discourse before it is really finished. The word is also applied to the act of speaking of a thing while pretending to say nothing about it, or of aggravating what one pretends to conceal by uttering a part and leaving the remainder to be understood: as, his character is such—but it is better I should not speak of that.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Aposiopesis a-po-si-o-pē′sis a figure by which the speaker suddenly stops as though unable or unwilling to proceed, e.g. Virgil, Æneid, i. 135, 'Quos ego——'
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Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L., fr. Gr. , from to be quite silent
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Gr.;—apo-siōpa-ein, to keep silent, apo and siōpē, silence.

Usage

In literature:

Who ever composed with greater spirit and elegance because he could define an oxymoron or an aposiopesis?
"Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay" by George Otto Trevelyan
An aposiopesis takes place after a plural verb, and then there follows a clause wherein the verb is supplied from what went before.
"The English Language" by Robert Gordon Latham
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