Rhetorical Devices: Symploce

Device: Symploce (pronounced sim-plo-see or sim-plo-kee)

Origin: From the Greek συμπλοκήν (simplokeen), meaning “interweaving”.

In plain English: Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses and repetition of another word or phrase at the end of those same sentences or clauses.


  • Symploce highlights the contrast between different options or possibilities.
  • It adds a sense of balance that neither anaphora nor epistrophe can do alone.
  • The speaker’s words have rhythm and cadence.


  • Symploce is the combination of anaphora and epistrophe.
  • As is the case with anaphora and epistrophe, speakers should be careful not to overuse symploce.


There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to BerlinThere are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.”

— John Kennedy, 26 June 1963


Much of what I say might sound bitter, but it’s the truthMuch of what I say might sound like it’s stirring up trouble, but it’s the truthMuch of what I say might sound like it is hate, but it’s the truth.”

— Malcolm X, Date unknown


“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to rightitsaw suffering and tried to heal itsaw war and tried to stop it.”

— Ted Kennedy, Eulogy for Robert Kennedy, 8 June 1968


When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against itWhen there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it.”

— Bill Clinton, 23 April 1995


In 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It didn’t just change Apple, it changed the whole computer industryIn 2001, we introduced the first iPod, and it didn’t just change the way we all listened to music, it changed the entire music industry.”

— Steve Jobs, 9 January 2007


“Together, we will make America strong againWe will make America wealthy againWe will make America proud againWe will make America safe again. And yes, together we will make America great again.”

— Donald Trump, 20 January 2017


First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

— Popular version of the poem First They Came by Martin Niemöller

Post courtesy of: John Zimmer @ mannerofspeaking.org [link to source]
This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link.