Imagine every chapter of a book ends with a very similar passage.

Is there a word that encapsulates this writing technique?

An ostinato in music is (as far as I understand it, I'm no expert) a musical phrase that will be heard often repeated throughout a piece. The music keeps coming back to it.

I would like to describe a phrase/passage/block of text that the larger text keeps returning to.

What's a word for this?


I agree with @user121863 that the example you give is certainly a type of repetition, and I would cite the same source (literarydevices.com).

I would just go a step farther to be a bit more specific. Repetition is a term that covers a full set of different literary devices. Most of these describe using repetition within a particular sentence, paragraph, or verse.

I think that refrain, which is a particular kind of repetition, may suit your purpose.

The term refrain is most commonly used for poetry or songs, when a particular line or phrase is repeated regularly, at the end of multiple stanzas or verses, or between them (Cambridge).

But it can also be used in prose. From litcharts.com: "The term refrain has come to have a meaning that is a bit different, and less specific, in the context of speeches or prose writing. In such writing, a refrain refers simply to any phrase or sentence that is regularly repeated."

So for the phenomenon you're describing, I'd suggest refrain, which is a type of repetition.


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.