There is a children's television program called "Ben & Holly" in which there are a few repeated phrases/themes. I'm trying to find the correct terminology to describe them.

Example 1: In almost every episode there is a variation of a phrase - usually "and I'm an elf" or "and we're elves", followed by the elf/elves blowing a horn.

Example 2: About once every 5 episodes a location is flooded with jelly and all the characters all shout "Jelly flood!"


motif should work for this.

a dominant or recurring idea in an artistic work.

Just found another possibility, epanalepsis, courtesy of a rhetorical devices page on YourDictionary.

repetition of the same word or phrase after other words have intervened.

Thought of another one as well: trope.

The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.

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  • Thanks. That was my initial thought - I think it works well for describing the idea of, for example, the jelly flood, but I'm wondering if there isn't a more fitting word to describe repeated phrases. – nwebb Mar 3 '16 at 13:15
  • The only other one I've been able to find so far is anaphora, but that's more the repetition of words/phrases at the beginning of several successive verses/clauses/paragraphs and isn't really what you wanted. (just edited the answer with another possibility I found) – John Clifford Mar 3 '16 at 13:24
  • If it's not so much the motif you want to describe, but actual text, would 'idiomatic expression' cover the bill? (From Freedictionary: locution, saying, expression - a word or phrase that particular people use in particular situations; "pardon the expression") – Terah Mar 3 '16 at 13:28

You could consider using buzz phrase if your children keep repeating them. It means:

a fashionable phrase in widespread use, a voguish phrase: '“Customer for life” is becoming an off-repeated buzz phrase.'


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