Is there a term for the kind of wordplay in which homophones are repeated adjacently with different meaning? For example,

The rose rose up.

Rose rows in church.

  • By repeating a word, do you mean that the words are homophones? These sound the same, have different meanings, and can be spelled the same but don't have to be: the beautiful rose rose up, rows rose in church.
    – aedia λ
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 23:46
  • Wow your example is much better than mine. May I use it in my original post?
    – Shawn
    Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 23:49
  • Please feel free to use my examples if they help you clarify your question, @Shawn!
    – aedia λ
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 0:24

4 Answers 4


Jim Wegryn calls it a dittogram.

  • +1 Your link has a lot of very good examples! I also remember the famous Buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo. I can't find any dictionary saying that the word dittogram is really what Jim Wegryn says though.. All I can find is "mistaken repetition of a letter, word, or phrase by a copyist" (dittography)
    – Shawn
    Commented Aug 27, 2011 at 4:45
  • Shouldn't that be 'Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo' ? Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 21:46

This wikipedia entry refers to them as "alliterations".

It uses one of my favorite limeriks as an example (note that 4:04 is spoken as 'four-four'):

There's a train at 4:04 said Miss Jenny. 
Four tickets I'll take. Have you any? 
Said the man at the door. "Not four for 4:04, 
For four for 4:04 is too many."

However, "alliteration" is a broader term which can apply to repeated syllables and sounds, and not just complete words.

Maybe there isn't a specific word for what you're describing, but you can hone it down to a phrase: "homophones used for alliteration".

  • That's a nice one. I used to like the German "wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen Fliegen hinterher" but it's only 5 flies, opposed to 9 fours. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 2:17
  • I remember from when I was learning German decades ago: "Die Männer, die vorm Schokoladen Laden Ladenläden laden, laden Ladenmädchen gern zum Tanze ein." (Apologies if I got it wrong; I'm doing this from memory since I've forgotten most of my German). Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 22:10

There is no special term. Alliteration focuses on initial sounds (the graveyard 'Peace, perfect peace') while rhyme is about endings (stressed syllable onward e.g. Nash's 'rhinocerous - prepocerous'). Consonance is about consonants (the c-v-c syllables 'live, love') and assonance about nearby vowel sounds ('high rise'). A published example of mine achieves 11 homophone repetitions, and is entirely plausible teaching (especially for philosophy students, poor things).

We are here, but for others distant we are 'over there', so our 'here' is their 'there'.
Please don't cry. We are here, but I see you writhe ere 'their there'. There, there — they're there! Their 'there' they're therefore seeing as over here.
That's it really. Let's celebrate, cohere. Hear here 'Hear, hear!' Here, heroes all, ends the lesson, succinctly.


I believe you are looking for the word homophone


  • No, I am looking for the term describing the usage of homophones (or even better, homonyms) in a sentence as a play on words...
    – Shawn
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 0:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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