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merism

n.

1894 in biological sense "repetition of parts in living things;" earlier in rhetoric, "synecdoche in which totality is expressed by contrasting parts" (e.g. high and low, young and old); from Modern Latin merismus, from Greek merismos "a dividing, division, a partition," from merizein "to divide," from meros "part, share" (see merit (n.)). Related: Merismatic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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