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[kahy-az-muh s] /kaɪˈæz məs/
noun, plural chiasmi
[kahy-az-mahy] /kaɪˈæz maɪ/ (Show IPA).
a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases, as in “He went to the country, to the town went she.”.
Origin of chiasmus
1870-75; < Greek chiasmós, equivalent to chi chi1 + -asmos masculine noun suffix, akin to -asma; see chiasma Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for chiasmus
Historical Examples
  • For the more complicated forms of chiasmus consult Ngelsbach, Stil.

    Cato Maior de Senectute Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • There is chiasmus here, since privata is contrasted with honoratis and quieta with claris.

    Cato Maior de Senectute Marcus Tullius Cicero
British Dictionary definitions for chiasmus


noun (pl) -mi (-maɪ)
(rhetoric) reversal of the order of words in the second of two parallel phrases: he came in triumph and in defeat departs
Derived Forms
chiastic (kaɪˈæstɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin, from Greek khiasmos crisscross arrangement; see chiasma
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chiasmus

in grammar, inversion of word order, 1871, Latinized from Greek khiasmos "a placing crosswise, diagonal arrangement" (see chi).

Adam, first of men,
To first of women, Eve.
["Paradise Lost"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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