Figures of Speech | #1 | Chiasmus

Figures of Speech Chiasmus

Chiasmus | As a figure of speech




“Chiasmus comes from the Greek “chiasm” meaning “X”; or diagonal.


Chiasmus is a rhetorical device, literally meaning “to shape like the letter ฮง”, is a “reversal of grammatical structures in successive phrases or clauses โ€“ but no repetition of words”.

This speech follows a diagonal structure.

For instance, the following sentence from Socrates, 5th Century B.C.

โ€œBad men live that they may eat and drink, whereas good men eat and drink that they may live.โ€

Let’s break this down into:
1. parts in the sentence
2. arguments (X & Y) in the sentence.

Break-Up #1 | The Parts in the Sentence

Break-Up #2 | The Arguments in the Sentence

X = type of menย  | Y = their purpose

โ€œX do (something) so that they Y, whereas X do Y that they get something else.โ€

As per, we should notice thatย the second half of thisย sentence is an inverted form of the first half, both grammatically and logically. What must also be noticed that this reversal was achieved without repeating the words across both parts of the sentence.

More Details

More Examples

  1. “By day the frolic, and the dance by night.” โ€” Samuel Johnson, The Vanity of Human Wishes (1794)
  2. “Despised, if ugly; if she’s fair, betrayed.” โ€” Mary Leapor, “Essay on Woman” (1751)

How to Cite This Logophilia Blog Post

If you want to cite this blog post from Logophilia in your research, choose one of the following formats.


Logophilia Education. โ€Ž. 11 April 2020. Dhruv Raj Sharma. <>

The Chicago Manual of Style

Logophilia Education. 2020. โ€Ž. Dhruv Raj Sharma. April 11.


Logophilia Education. (2020, April 11). โ€Ž. (D. R. Sharma, Producer, & Logophilia Education) Retrieved from Logophilia Education:

Written on: Friday, April 10th, 2020 at 10:29 pm
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