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[ap-uh-sahy-uh-pee-sis] /ˌæp əˌsaɪ əˈpi sɪs/
noun, plural aposiopeses
[ap-uh-sahy-uh-pee-seez] /ˌæp əˌsaɪ əˈpi siz/ (Show IPA).
a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed.
1570-80; < Late Latin < Greek: literally, a full silence, equivalent to aposiōpē- (verbid stem of aposiōpáein to be fully silent; apo- apo- + siōpáein to be silent) + -sis -sis
Related forms
[ap-uh-sahy-uh-pet-ik] /ˌæp əˌsaɪ əˈpɛt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for aposiopeses


noun (pl) -ses (-siːz)
(rhetoric) the device of suddenly breaking off in the middle of a sentence as if unwilling to continue
Derived Forms
aposiopetic (ˌæpəʊˌsaɪəˈpɛtɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C16: via Late Latin from Greek, from aposiōpaein to be totally silent, from siōpaein to be silent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for aposiopeses



rhetorical artifice wherein the speaker suddenly breaks off in the middle of a sentence, 1570s, from Latin, from Greek aposiopesis "a becoming silent," also as a rhetorical figure, from apo- (see apo-) + siope "silence."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for aposiopeses


(Greek: "becoming silent"), a speaker's deliberate failure to complete a sentence. Aposiopesis usually indicates speechless rage or exasperation, as in "Why, you . . .," and sometimes implies vague threats as in, "Why, I'll . . . ." The listener is expected to complete the sentence in his mind. In ancient Greek rhetoric, the aposiopesis occasionally takes the form of a pause before a change of subject or a digression.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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