Lately, I suffer from an unusual habit. I simply don't finish my sentence while typing and I don't even notice it. Afterwards when I take a look at (for instance) the email I sent, I can clearly see that I've stopped in the middle of the sentence. I wouldn't believe my colleagues if I couldn't see my email history. So I'm wondering if

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    What you have to understand is that – John Clifford Mar 9 '16 at 13:06
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    (incidentally, this is called aposiopesis) – John Clifford Mar 9 '16 at 13:08
  • @JohnClifford True, but your answer is obviously ignoring – jimm101 Mar 9 '16 at 13:10
  • stutterer ! :O) – DAVE Mar 9 '16 at 13:12
  • "Good evening, I'm Piers Morgan. What I lack in journalistic integrity," (end;audience laughing). This was from an SNL Parody. – NVZ Mar 9 '16 at 13:28

When talking, this is usually referred to as "trailing off", or "trailing off in the middle of a sentence". Eg

"Susan started telling John about the weekly sales report, then trailed off, looking over his shoulder."

"I'm always trailing off halfway through a sentence, especially when I haven't had a coffee yet."

Alternately, the trailing off describes' someone's voice:

"Susan started telling John about the weekly sales report, then her voice trailed off as she looked over his shoulder."

Either of these are acceptable, although I think the latter (where the voice trails off, not the person) may be more correct.

When referring to typed or written text, however, i don't think that this is quite right without the addition of the ellipsis (...) which indicates that the trailing off is a deliberate part of the sentence. For example, this is trailling off:

"She hasn't been here for months. In fact, now I think about it..."

which tells the reader that the speaker has trailed off.

If it was just this:

"She hasn't been here for months. In fact, now I think about it"

It just looks like a mistake. However, you could, i think still call it "trailing off", eg:

"Lately, I suffer from an unusual habit. I trail off in the middle of sentences, while typing, and I don't even notice it."

and I think people would understand what you meant.


You could say that your sentences are truncated:

shorten (something) by cutting off the top or the end.

"a truncated cone shape"

synonyms: shorten, cut, cut short, curtail, bring to an untimely end; abbreviate, condense, reduce, prune

"the program may need to be truncated"

"Sorry, I noticed that I've been truncating sentences in my emails."

You might also combine the answers and say something like "I've been trailing off in my emails and truncating sentences."

  • Truncated is good but (to me at least) it implies an action of truncation, ie that it's been done deliberately rather than by accident. – Max Williams Mar 10 '16 at 11:14

This rhetorical device is called aposiopesis.

Aposiopesis (/ˌæpəsaɪ.əˈpiːsɪs/; Classical Greek: ἀποσιώπησις, "becoming silent") is a figure of speech wherein a sentence is deliberately broken off and left unfinished, the ending to be supplied by the imagination, giving an impression of unwillingness or inability to continue.

  • No; aposiopesis is the deliberate rhetorical decision to do so, and this is not the situation here. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 9 '16 at 18:09
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    I assumed that due to the obviously-intentional humorous way the OP ended the question, the preceding part was meant to be an amusing anecdote making it look like there wasn't a joke coming, but I may have misinterpreted it. – John Clifford Mar 9 '16 at 18:13
  • That would be confusing. But he didn't add the joke in the original. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 9 '16 at 18:19
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    @EdwinAshworth Incidentally I also found a blog post from 2008 titled "I am a man of, often unintentional, aposiopesis which..." but I guess that was used more for effect than an acceptable definition. – John Clifford Mar 9 '16 at 18:24

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