Homoioteleuton

An Introduction to Homoioteleuton

Homoioteleuton (derives from Greek combination homios, “like” and teleute, “ending” literally means “like ending”), is the repetition of similar endings in words as the sentence progresses.

Homoioteleuton helps to establish and reinforce connections in expression, as in this example from the prominent English politician Lord Rosebery’sOpens in new window speech in 1899:

  • “Imperialism, sane imperialism… is nothing but this – a larger patriotism.”

PeachamOpens in new window refered to this figure as “of like tune” in which he means “like sound.” Homoioteleuton may be regarded as the ancient equivalent of rhymeOpens in new window, except that it is more of a proseOpens in new window effect than poetryOpens in new window, although not as systematic as rhyme.

Examples of Homoioteleuton

Homoioteleuton is often used as a framework of elegance, bringing together words coined with similar endings to create a rhythmic pattern that goes a long way captivating the reader. See examples of homoioteleuton below:

  • Now under hanging mountains,
    Beside the fall of fountains,
    Or where Hebrus wanders
    Rolling in meanders,
    All alone,
    Unheard, unknown,
    He makes his moan;
    And calls her ghost,
    For ever, ever, ever, lost!
    Now with Furies surrounded,
    Despairing, confounded,
    He trembles, he glows
    Amidst Rhodope’s snows:
    See, wild as the winds, o’er th desert he flies;
    Hark! Haemus resounds wit the Bacchanals’ cries.
  • — Pope
  • “You dare to act dishonourably,
    you strive to talk despicably;
    you live hatefully,
    you sin zealously,
    you speak offensively.”
  • — Ad Herennium
  • “My mother weeping,
    my father wailing,
    my sister crying, our maid howling,
    our cat wringing her hands.”
  • — Shakespearean, The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Further Readings:
Quintilian 9.3.77-80; Peacham (1577); Sherry 58;
Susenbrotus 54 (similiter desinens); Ad Herennium 4.20.28.