What's the right word for repeating something several times to make one believe that the thing is true?

  • A self-fulfilling prophesy – Nick Weinberg Aug 13 '16 at 16:56
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    Can you supply a sentence with the word you want missing? As it stands, a wide range of words could answer your question. – JEL Aug 13 '16 at 17:02
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    Who is one repeating it to? Oneself or someone else? I think you mean the former, but I'm not sure. – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Aug 13 '16 at 17:25
  • It is not clear whether you are asking about stylistic devices in the language or philosophical modes. I assumed the first. – Lambie Aug 13 '16 at 17:43
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    Sounds like brainwashing to me.... ;-) – Jim Aug 13 '16 at 21:28

10 Answers 10


"proof by assertion", a fallacy, must be the phrase you are looking for.

Proof by assertion, sometimes informally referred to as proof by repeated assertion, is an informal fallacy in which a proposition is repeatedly restated regardless of contradiction. Sometimes, this may be repeated until challenges dry up, at which point it is asserted as fact due to its not being contradicted (argumentum ad nauseam). In other cases, its repetition may be cited as evidence of its truth, in a variant of the appeal to authority or appeal to belief fallacies.

This fallacy is often used by politicians during election times.

  • This is right for a philosophical mode. – Lambie Aug 13 '16 at 17:43
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    I like the argumentum ad nauseam inside there. – Daniel R. Collins Aug 14 '16 at 4:58

Stylistically, there are many:

Here they are, some are Latin or Greek-based words, which is OK, since we seem to be discussing rhetoric. Many though are also used in their English form, which I am not going to work through here:

Repetition of ideas commoratio: Dwelling on or returning to one's strongest argument.

disjunctio: A similar idea is expressed with different verbs in successive clauses.

epanodos: Repeating the main terms of an argument in the course of presenting it.

epimone: Persistent repetition of the same plea in much the same words.

exergasia: Augmentation by repeating the same thought in many figures.

expolitio: Repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given.

homiologia: Tedious and inane repetition. Unvaried style.

hypozeuxis: an expression or sentence where every clause has its own independent subject and predicate.

palilogia: Repetition in order to increase general fullness or to communicate passion.

pleonasmus: Use of more words than is necessary semantically. Rhetorical repetition that is grammatically superfluous.

scesis onomaton: A series of successive, synonymous expressions.

synonymia: The use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds force.

tautologia: The repetition of the same idea in different words, but (often) in a way that is wearisome or unnecessary.

traductio: Repeating the same word variously throughout a sentence or thought. http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Figures/Groupings/of%20Repetition.htm

  • Yeah, well, I really don't see how one can downvote this. Not that I even give a damn. – Lambie Aug 13 '16 at 17:39
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    I don't either. The question is kinda broadly formed. – Daniel Aug 13 '16 at 20:57

I'm not sure whether you mean repeating it to oneself or to someone else, but in case the latter, then:


From the Wikipedia article "Propaganda techniques":

This uses tireless repetition of an idea. An idea, especially a simple slogan, that is repeated enough times, may begin to be taken as the truth.

Emphasis mine.

Repetition is essential to propaganda:

But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, 1925. Translated by Michael Ford, 2009. Emphasis mine.


Simply, the term argument by repetition can be found at Logically Fallacious which details over 300 logical fallacies.


I think autosuggestion is close to what you are looking for:

  • an influencing of one's own attitudes, behavior, or physical condition by mental processes other than conscious thought.



Perhaps brainwashing (Dictionary.com):

2. any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, especially one based on repetition or confusion: brainwashing by TV commercials.


There are "self-help" practices called self-statements, self-affirmations or simply affirmations.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, these are statements people repeat over and over to themselves with the aim of eventually believing them. Source

From the Wikipedia article "Affirmations (New Age)":

More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to one's self and written down frequently.

Emphasis mine.


It is known as the Illusory truth effect and is a cognitive bias (memory). It works because:

People are more likely to identify as true statements those they have previously heard (even if they cannot consciously remember having heard them), regardless of the actual validity of the statement. In other words, a person is more likely to believe a familiar statement than an unfamiliar one.


Not certain of what you are looking for, but I'll take a gander. Reiteration: The saying of something again or a number of times, typically for emphasis or clarity. Pleonasm: The use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning, either as a fault of style or for emphasis. Recapitulation: An act or instance of summarizing and restating the main points of something. Tautology: The saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered.

Oxford American College Dictionary.


If you mean for the belief exposure to not be consensual, then here are a few more. Indoctrination: Teach (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically. Propagandizing: Attempt to influence (someone) with propaganda. Proselytizing: Convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another. Conversion: A person who has been persuaded to change their religious faith or other beliefs. Inculcation: To instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction or exposure. Brainwashing: Making (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.

Oxford American College Dictionary.

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