Epenthesis

An Introduction to Epenthesis

Epenthesis (etymologically from Greek, literally “interlacing in the middle”), is the addition of a syllableOpens in new window or sound in the middle of a word, usually for poetical metreOpens in new window or rhetorical texture.

    For example,
  • puh-leeze for please

The sub-species of epenthesis includes anaptyxisOpens in new window (the addition of a vowel) and excrescenceOpens in new window (the addition of a consonant). The most common epenthetic vowelOpens in new window in the English language is the schwaOpens in new window, the toneless and neutral vowel added to please in the example we observed above.

Epenthesis has been commonplace in the English language, and no erudite person rejects to forms historically established: the following forms were originally created from epenthesis: the internal n in “messenger,” “nightingale,” and “passenger”; the g in “impregnable”; the internal d in “jaundice,” “kindred,” and “thunder”; and the second r in “bridegroom.” — (Bryan A. Garner, ‘Garner's Modern English UsageOpens in new window’)

Further Readings:
Silver Rhetoricae, Figures | EpenthesisOpens in new window