In terms of rhetoric devices, what's it called when the prefixes of consecutive words are the same? Specifically, I am looking at this quote by Winston Churchill made in his speech - Give Us the Tools:

we shall outwit, out-manoeuvre, outfight and outlast ...

The closest word I could think of to describe this is "diacope", however, I am under the impression that it refers exclusively to the repetition of a word or phrase.

  • is there a reason why you unaccepted the answer? – user66974 Apr 27 '16 at 13:41
  • @Josh61 I added an explanation below – Pixelzery Apr 28 '16 at 16:01

Polyptoton :

  • Repetition of words of the same root with different endings.


  • Have a brand-new, shiny upvote, fresh from the oven. – John Clifford Apr 5 '16 at 19:17
  • 1
    But a prefix is not a root. Polyptoton, originally the use of the same noun in multiple (Greek or Latin) cases in short succession, is in English better exemplified by Matt. 7.1-2 (KJV)--"Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged"--than by OP's Churchill quotation. – Brian Donovan Apr 5 '16 at 21:28
  • The OP's words are outwit, out-manoeuvre, outfight and outlast. How can we say that all these are of the same root? – mahmud k pukayoor Feb 20 '20 at 13:19


assonance, n. 1. Resemblance or correspondence of sound between two words or syllables. 1728 E. Chambers Cyclopaedia. Assonance,..where the Words of a Phrase, or a Verse, have the same Sound or Termination, and yet make no proper Rhyme. 1870 J. R. Lowell “My Study Windows” 327 Homer..seems fond of playing with assonances. 1879 F. W. Farrar “The Life & Work of St. Paul” I. App. i. 623 Incessant assonances and balances of clauses and expressions.


I researched this a bit more and I came to the conclusion that I guess there isn't a specific name for this sort of technique. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if you do not specifically name the technique (you won't get marked down in an essay)

Although a polyptoton is similar to the technique, a polyptoton is more to do with the repetition of words but with a different case, conjugation or form (as Brian Donovan said), such as:

He drinks, he has drunk and now he will drink!

(or something like that - I didn't really know what a polyptoton was before this)

So now I am faced with two courses of action:
1: Use a more generic term when describing the technique - such as "repetition"
2: Talk about another example

I chose the latter, and so this issue is solved, for now.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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