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Is there a term for repeating something in an A, B, A fashion for emphasis or dramatic effect?


Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts.

Ain't it the truth, Joe... ain't it the truth.

I've looked at epanalepsis, epistrophe, and anaphora, but none of them quite match the above sentence structures.

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how does this not match epanalepsis? – Oldcat Apr 22 '14 at 20:36
Say it ain't so, Joe. Say it ain't so. – Drew Apr 22 '14 at 21:20
"Sonata-allegro form." – Micah Apr 22 '14 at 23:57

It is called "diacope"

Diacope is a rhetorical term meaning repetition of a word or phrase with one or two intervening words. It derives from a Greek word meaning "cut in two".

"Put out the light, and then put out the light."–Shakespeare, Othello, Act V, scene 2.

Further explanation:

  • For maximum effect, there should not be too many words between the repeated word(s) in a diacope.

  • Diacope is similar to epanalepsis. In the latter, the repeated words are at the beginning and end of a sentence. The last quote, by Denzel Washington, is both a diacope and epanalepsis.

“Don’t turn away from the truth. Don’t turn away from your conscience. Please don’t ignore the law; no, embrace that higher principle for which the law was meant to serve. Justice—that’s all I ask—justice.

— Denzel Washington in The Hurricane (1999)

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How to pronounce that? – user13107 Apr 23 '14 at 12:14
I appreciate the timely Rubin Carter reference. – xd6_ Apr 23 '14 at 16:13

You already found the word you're looking for: "epanalepsis."

epanalepsis: a repetition of a word or a phrase with intervening words setting off the repetition, sometimes occurring with a phrase used both at the beginning and end of a sentence, as in the immortal words of Jack Webb: "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."

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Your link is not working. That's one major reason SE asks for more than link-only answers (though this is more than a link only answer, it is not so by much.) – medica Apr 22 '14 at 20:36

It is a form of reiteration :

Reiteration - the act of repeating over and again.

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To be pedantic, "re"iteration is "re"dundant - "iteration" already means "to repeat". – mikeTheLiar Apr 23 '14 at 12:42
@mikeTheLiar Not necessarily. While it's a trivial case, you can have only one iteration when iterating, so "to reiterate" can mean "to perform another iteration" (and in fact, when multiple iterations are involved in the act of iterating, "to reiterate" would be more likely to mean performing all of those iterations again rather than just the last one). – JAB Apr 23 '14 at 13:50

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