Definition and Examples of Merism
Merism (etymologically from the Greek word “meris” (part), literally “a division into parts”) is a kind of SynecdocheOpens in new window by which the broad view of a conception or thing is expressed by its constituent parts which is usually two opposing concepts that describe the whole.
The two words “heaven” and “earth” for example, are the two opposite concepts that signify parts that ultimately express a concept of the whole universe.
In merism, naming two associated words or concepts do not necessarily exclude one another on the basis of a common idea, but to complement each other.
In sum, Merism is characterized by way of saying the whole in bits using two distinct medium, the first through constrasting extremes and the second is using several or some of its parts for description.
Merism is particularly prolific in the Bible; i.e. In Gen 1:1, as written “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is referenced to all of God’s creation. As Psalm 39 categorically emphasizes: “my sitting down and my uprising up” implying that God knows everything about the Psalmist’s utterances, desires and actions. Genesis 1:5 also asserts “evening” and “morning” signifying ‘One day’ — this also is a merism.
In the sphere of lawOpens in new window, merism is a term in which the focal phrase “last will and testament” has its turf. This is used in reference to two distinct documents; i.e the will is traditionally used to dispose or distribute real properties (such as real estate, landed properties) of a deceased person, whilst the testament is used to dispose of a deceased person’s chattel (properties that are moveable such as cars etc).