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

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! – Benjamin Harman Jan 10 '16 at 10:29
  • Thank you for that information. I'm going to go read up on those. – Benjamin Harman Jan 10 '16 at 11:09
  • Also closely related, syllepsis, zeugma, and the pun. – Mitch Jan 10 '16 at 21:42

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