from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A rhetorical inversion of the second of two parallel structures, as in

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In rhetoric, the arrangement of repeated, parallel, or contrasted words or phrases in two pairs, the second of which reverses the order of the first: as, do not live to eat, but eat to live; or as in the following quotation

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Rhet.) An inversion of the order of words or phrases, when repeated or subsequently referred to in a sentence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun rhetoric An inversion of the relationship between the elements of phrases.

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

  • noun inversion in the second of two parallel phrases


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

[New Latin chīasmus, from Greek khīasmos, syntactic inversion, from khīazein, to invert or mark with an X; see chiasma.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin chiasmus, from Ancient Greek χιασμός, from χιάζω ("to mark with a chi"), from χ (chi, "chi")


  • Had this been said by Gucci Mane, I'd use it as further evidence of his learning disability. hey i learned the word chiasmus posted by


  • But they slipped the code-word "chiasmus" into their conversation so that I could identify them.

    SBL (Secret Bibliobloggers' League): A Top Secret Debriefing on the 2009 Annual Meeting in New Orleans

  • But they slipped the code-word "chiasmus" into their conversation so that I could identify them.

    Archive 2009-11-01

  • In many pages of protracted rumination, Corngold intermixed his own insights with already enigmatic passages from Kafka, thus producing (often specious) effects of "chiasmus" yielding a "boundless field of incessant metaphorical exchange" (p. 121), a "free play between given metaphors which accommodates new metaphors at the same time that it robs each of determinate meaning" (p. 123), and "a movement of thought that spirals on through endless reversals" (p. 153).

    'Kafka Up Close': An Exchange

  • Allegorizing poetic presence, Coleridge not only suggests that sound, like light, is a powerline through the air; he's also working with the chiasmus of sound as a phonological paradigm.

    Sounding Romantic: The Sound of Sound

  • According to Virginia Tenzer, the fact that only one taper at Urbino is lit suggests that this virtue is enacted in the present, at the chiasmus of the past and future, and "that prudence is a habit of mind exercised by Federico" (Iconography, 198).

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

  • Chesterton ' s love of chiasmus — the ABBA pattern in which repetition involves reversal.

    The Syntax of Style

  • But while chiasmus and ellipsis were familiar, many of his terms were new to me.

    The Syntax of Style

  • Not as a call to battle, though embattled we are, that would be both chiasmus and plyptoton.

    Analyzing The Text Of Obama's Inaugural Address

  • Which nations are better versed in Cohen's vision of human relations, in bible-like chiasmus: "when it all comes down to dust, I will kill you if I must, I will help you if I can; when it all comes down to dust, I will help you if I must, I will kill you if I can."

    Dahlia Scheindlin: The Holy and the Broken


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  • I can't believe nobody has posted this.

    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    October 18, 2007

  • Don't let a kiss fool you, or a fool kiss you.

    October 18, 2007

  • Love it! Can't think of any good ones though... Wait! "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." Is that one?

    October 18, 2007

  • If you want to head off a balanced attack by your enemy, you must balance a tack hammer on your head.

    Close, anyway...

    October 18, 2007

  • chiastic was posted long ago. What a double cross!!!!!

    October 18, 2007

  • Well, if you bracket it in your comment (can you still edit it?) then we could all click there whenever we get to this page. That'd be cool. :)

    I think this word is a little more elegant though.

    Also, reading the wiki page for this word makes my head hurt. It's lucky I don't have to understand Latin poetry for any conceivable reason...

    October 18, 2007

  • I think fbharjo was riffing on the word's etymology, yes fb? I've noticed that you enjoy doing that. :-)

    October 18, 2007

  • Reseetee - That course of - of course that ???? yes sey

    October 18, 2007

  • Oh. Well... *head hurts*

    October 18, 2007

  • I want real pain for my sham friends and champagne for my real friends.

    October 18, 2007