Definitions

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

  • n. A sudden breaking off of a thought in the middle of a sentence, as though the speaker were unwilling or unable to continue.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An abrupt breaking-off in speech.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A figure of speech in which the speaker breaks off suddenly, as if unwilling or unable to state what was in his mind.”

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In rhetoric, sudden reticence; the suppression by a speaker or writer of something which he seemed to be about to say; the sudden termination of a discourse before it is really finished.

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

  • n. breaking off in the middle of a sentence (as by writers of realistic conversations)

Etymologies

Late Latin aposiōpēsis, from Greek, from aposiōpān, to become silent : apo-, intensive pref.; see apo- + siōpān, to be silent (from siōpē, silence).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin aposiopesis, from Ancient Greek ἀποσιώπησις (aposiopesis), from ἀποσιωπάω (aposiōpaō, "be silent"), from ἀπό (apo, "off, from") + σιωπάω (siōpaō, "to be silent"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • I've known her all my life, but I always called her Miss Pronunciation.

    April 23, 2010

  • I didn't know there was a Ms. Pronunciation as well as Mr!

    April 23, 2010

  • "They spoke in fragments and ellipses, in periphrastics and aposiopesis, in a style abundant in chiasmus, metonymy, meiosis, oxymoron, and zeugma; their dazzling rhetorical techniques left him baffled and uncomfortable, which beyond much doubt was their intention." – Robert Silverberg, Born With the Dead (on World Wide Words)

    July 27, 2009

  • Sould be spelled: apauseopieces if you ask me, dontcry.

    February 2, 2009

  • JM was writing of aposiopesis, forgive me, I'll be OK in a minute, when the rain started again.

    February 1, 2009

  • Also known as reticentia.

    July 23, 2008

  • I love the pronunciation of this word. I can't get it out of my head.

    March 4, 2007

  • This has to be one of the hardest words to pronounce, EVER.

    March 1, 2007

  • What the...?

    February 28, 2007