All terms

What is a Chiasmus?

A rhetorical device that involves the repetition of two phrases in inverse order.

The Twisting Power of Reversal: An Exploration of Chiasmus

Chiasmus is a rhetorical device that can turn a simple statement into a memorable one: by repeating two phrases in inverse order for an artful, eye-catching emphasis.

Chiasmus is not only useful as a tool for enhancing a text's aesthetic appeal, but it can also help sharpen writing skills by requiring you to think expansively about sentence construction, grammar, and the art of communicating your ideas with poetic grace.

Inverted Phrases in Classic Literature

Two examples of chiasmus in literature:

The Catcher in the Rye

'It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to.'

- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

King Lear

'The first and last of every politician's speech is the same thing: he's sorry and grateful to be here.'

- William Shakespeare, King Lear