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Is there a name for “I don't mean to…, but” phrases?
Term for mentioning X by saying “I will not say X”

I am looking for a name of a figure of speech which expresses a desire to recommend something by talking about not talking about the action.

Example (coined from a real example that happened on IRC). The topic is a certain animation which the speaker would like to recommend to another person.

Well, ok, it is not a drama, so I am not going to try convincing you it is worth watching. I understand that people have different preferences as to what to watch. Not knowing its plot is not punishable after all… (yet). And the authors haven't got a Nobel prize for it either. So, don't worry, I am not going to say how much you are losing by not watching it right now.

I think it's related to Suspiciously Specific Denial TV trope, but I've seen this specific way of recommending things many times and I am wondering if there's any nice description of this kind of figure of speech.

marked as duplicate by Mitch, James Waldby - jwpat7, FumbleFingers, Matt E. Эллен, user11550 Aug 28 '12 at 16:34

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  • 2
    Good question but it's a duplicate. – Mitch Aug 27 '12 at 0:51
  • So, for example, if I wanted to go out for ice cream, I might say, "We could go out for ice cream – but we're not going to talk about that right now." Is that the kind of thing you mean? So, it's sort of like reverse psychology, only, in this case, you explicitly mention that you aren't going to discuss it (as opposed to suggesting doing the opposite). – J.R. Aug 27 '12 at 0:54

The word you are looking for is paralipsis, also spelled paraleipsis. Per the OED, it is:

Etymology: a. Gr. παράλειψις passing by omission, f. παραλείπειν to leave on one side, pass by; late L. paralipsis (Aquila).

A rhetorical figure in which the speaker emphasizes something by affecting to pass it by without notice, usually by such phrases as ‘not to mention’, ‘to say nothing of’.

It is also variously known as apophasis, praeteritio, preterition, cataphasis (κατάφασις), antiphrasis (ἀντίφρασις), or parasiopesis (παρασιώπησις) — sometimes with slightly shaded meaning.


I don't have the name for the figure of speech but for the activity that employs it (taken both in serious manner as well as totally humorously):

Reverse psychology.

There are three ways to get anything done.

  • Do it yourself
  • Get someone to do it
  • Forbid it to the kids.

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