I can't recall the name of the rhetorical scheme or literary device involved with using the same word more than once within the same sentence but with different meanings:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

  • fear - verb
  • fear - noun

"Turn right right here."

  • right - adv. directional
  • right - adv. in this place

"My feet are but feet away."

  • feet - noun lower appendage
  • feet - noun distance

1 Answer 1


Perhaps you mean antanaclasis:

The repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance.

From Silva Rhetoricae, "antanaclasis".

Some examples from that site:

Your argument is sound...all sound. —Benjamin Franklin
If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm. —Vince Lombardi

(op. cit.)

The overarching figure for such repetition in brief sentences is paregmenon:

A general term for the repetition of a word or its cognates in a short sentence.

Polyptoton (as in your first example), is also a possibility:

Repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.

Adnominatio is sometimes used as a synonym of polyptoton.


The repetition of a word in a contrary sense.

is sometimes used as a synonym of antanaclasis.

(All definitions from Silva Rhetoricae.)

  • Antanaclasis!!!! Woohooo!! I knew it when I saw it! Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. My brain was hurting trying to remember it. I had paged though no less than 50 schemes and I couldn't find it. Ugh! What a load off! Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 10:29
  • Thank you for that information. I'm going to go read up on those. Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 11:09
  • Also closely related, syllepsis, zeugma, and the pun.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 21:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.