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syllepsis (si-LEP-sis), plural syllepses

noun: A construction in which a word governs two or more other words but agrees in number, gender, or case with only one, or has a different meaning when applied to each of the words, as in He lost his coat and his temper.

From Latin syllepsis, from Greek sullepsis, from sun-, + lepsis (a taking), from lambanein (to take).

"'Crossing', first of all, is an instance of syllepsis, a figure in which one word is a pun for two different senses. Not only is the `Visionary' (the character in the essay, as distinguished from the historical Emerson) literally moving from one place to another, but he is also at a crossroads, a crux. Cross, deriving from the Latin crux, means not only a physical cross, but a fateful juncture."
Eric Wilson; "Terrible simplicity": Emerson's Metaleptic Style; Style; Spring 1997.

This week's theme: Words about words


An act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness. No reward coming after the event can compare with the sweet reward that went with it. -Maurice Maeterlinck, writer (1862-1949)

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