In semi-poetic writing, I have had occasion to deviate from the standard prose list practice (interpose commas or semicolons between items, with an "and" preceding the final item), by utilizing a second or third and to separate three or four items. That is,

Bob likes beer, wine and liquor.

The variant would be:

Bob likes beer and wine and liquor.

Now, the usage is obviously nonstandard and should be avoided in formal writing, but for those instances where poetic variation may be justified.

What is it called?

"Emphatic And" is the best I can coin on my own, but I wonder if there is a more established name for this variation.

  • You don't hear the emphasis? The former is a simple listing of preference; the latter has a subtle implication of excess. (Is Bob a connoisseur, or an alcoholic?)
    – DougM
    Dec 5 '13 at 3:14
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    There's a special name for leaving out all but the last and in a series. Why do you want a special name for leaving in what's already there? Dec 5 '13 at 5:20
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  • To reinforce that you intentionally left out commas, you may want to italicise the "ands": > Bob likes beer and wine and liquor. Just a suggestion - you may think its too heavy-handed depending on your intended audience.
    – user58946
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:08

It's called polysyndeton, and creates a polysyndetic co-ordination.

Polysyndeton is the use of several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted (as in "he ran and jumped and laughed for joy"). The word "polysyndeton" comes from the Greek "poly-", meaning "many," and "syndeton", meaning "bound together with". It is a stylistic scheme used to achieve a variety of effects: it can increase the rhythm of prose, speed or slow its pace, convey solemnity or even ecstasy and childlike exuberance. Another common use of polysyndeton is to create a sense of being overwhelmed, or in fact directly overwhelm the audience by using conjunctions, rather than commas, leaving little room for a reader to breathe.


The opposite, leaving out every conjunction, is called asyndeton.


Since Bob likes 3 items, each item should be separated by a comma:

Bob likes beer, wine, and liquor.

Now, if the last two items (wine and liquor) are one item (e.g. macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, rum and coke) then no comma is needed:

Bob likes beer, wine, and rum and coke.

  • 2
    The question is asking for what it's called when you have two ands, not what the rule for standard English is.
    – Laurel
    Oct 31 '19 at 2:51

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