Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An abrupt change within a sentence to a second construction inconsistent with the first, sometimes used for rhetorical effect; for example, I warned him that if he continues to drink, what will become of him?

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sentence or clause that is grammatically inconsistent, especially with respect to the type of clausal or phrasal complement for the initial clause.
  • n. Intentional use of such a structure.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A lack of grammatical sequence or coherence in a sentence; an instance of a change of construction in a sentence so that the latter part does not syntactically correspond with the first part.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In grammar and rhetoric, an instance of anacoluthia; a construction characterized by a want of grammatical sequence.
  • n. Also spelled anakoluthon and anakolouthon.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an abrupt change within a sentence from one syntactic structure to another

Etymologies

Late Latin, from Late Greek anakolouthon, inconsistency in logic, from Greek, neuter of anakolouthos, inconsistent : an-, not; see a-1 + akolouthos, following (a-, together; see sem-1 in Indo-European roots + keleuthos, path).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin anacolūthon, from Ancient Greek ἀνακόλουθον (anakolouthon, "without sequence, anomalous [of inflections or grammatical constructions]"), from ἀ(ν)- (a-, "un-") + ἀκόλουθος (akolouthos, "following"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • She employed, not from any refinement of style, but in order to correct her imprudences, abrupt breaches of syntax not unlike that figure which the grammarians call anacoluthon or some such name.

    The Captive

  • We've talked about anacoluthon before, in this blog, and here's another instance.

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • What we have is technically described as an anacoluthon, defined eg by the OED as 'a construction lacking grammatical sequence'.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • You can have cases of anacoluthon which retain the entire semantic content of the target sentences because only grammatical elements have been affected.

    On anacolutha

  • So, Mr. Crystal, basically speaking, anacoluthon is not a deviation from the norm - it's more like the omition of the bulky content of the sentence, which is understandable from the context, something like subtle implication.

    On anacolutha

  • There are usual several ways of resolving an anacoluthon, and yours is another - but there'd have to be a semi-colon or something beforehand, to avoid a reading miscue.

    On anacolutha

  • Now you point it out, it does read like the sort of rethink that would go on in speech I've talked about this before on the blog, in relation to anacoluthon.

    On the biggest load of rubbish...

  • If you want to put it in terms of deviations and norms, then anacoluthon is more like the deviant conflation of two syntactic norms, or the interference of one syntactic norm by another.

    On anacolutha

  • Presupposition doesn't enter into the definition of anacoluthon.

    On anacolutha

  • When writing in this way he is in fact often using grammatical-rhetorical figures which can easily look like mere carelessness to an untutored eye but which receive high literary sanction from classical sources and are employed by him artfully (e.g. anacoluthon).

    Johann Gottfried von Herder

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Comments

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  • JM wants to be a skilled anacoluthon practitioner so that all the world shall -- I will do such things,what they are, yet I know not.

    May 26, 2010

  • Had ye been there — for what could that have done? (John Milton in Lycidas)

    August 4, 2009