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Often, when people are announced or mentioned in the news, their name is prefixed by a title that gives rhythm and balance to the sound of their name. For example, we sometimes hear "Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi". I'm pretty sure his title is not "strongman", but this prefix gives rhythm and balance to his name.

I have a vague recollection long ago of knowing the origin of this practice (Chaucer, I think) and a name for it. I've tried every way of searching for it, but I can't find it. Am I remembering wrong, or is there a word or phrase for this?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

All I can think of is Homeric epithets:

A characteristic of Homer’s style is the use of epithets, as in “rosy-fingered” dawn or “swift-footed’ Achilles. Epithets are used because of the constraints of the dactylic hexameter (i.e., it is convenient to have a stockpile of metrically fitting phrases to add to a name) and because of the oral transmission of the poems; they are mnemonic aids to the poet and the audience alike.

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