Definitions

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

  • noun Separation of the parts of a compound word by one or more intervening words; for example, where I go ever instead of wherever I go.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In grammar, a figure by which a compound word is separated into two parts, and one or more words are inserted between them: as, “of whom be thou ware also” (2 Tim. iv. 15), for “of whom beware thou also.” Also called diacope.

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

  • noun (Gram.) The separation of the parts of a compound word by the intervention of one or more words.

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

  • noun prosody The insertion of one or more words between the components of a compound word.

Etymologies

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

[Late Latin tmēsis, from Greek, a cutting, from temnein, to cut; see tem- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined 1586, from Late Latin tmēsis, from Ancient Greek τμῆσις (tmēsis, "a cutting"), from τέμνω (temnō, "I cut").

Examples

  • This is called tmesis: "What man soever" we've put one word between the syllables of another word.

    Literal Figures of Speech

  • This is called tmesis: "What man soever" we've put one word between the syllables of another word.

    Archive 2005-09-01

  • Sometimes the relative pronouns compounded with _cunque_ and _libet_ are separated by the insertion of some other word or words between them, which in grammatical language is called a tmesis -- as _quod enim cunque judicium subierat, absolvebatur; quem sors dierum cunque tibi dederit, lucre appone, _ 'whatever day chance may give thee, consider it as a gain.'

    C. Sallusti Crispi De Bello Catilinario Et Jugurthino

  • I just put all of that stuff in the tmesis pile before you showed me that there's a whole nother category.

    Sometimes You Just Wonder

  • Wrath and I are old friends, and I've come to accept his tendency toward tmesis as an endearing personality quirk.

    Archive 2006-02-01

  • Wrath and I are old friends, and I've come to accept his tendency toward tmesis as an endearing personality quirk.

    The Forgotten Six

  • Nonetheless, tmesis reminds us (if we need to be) that in such grammatical matters -- never say never.

    Archive 2004-06-01

  • In tmesis we break a work in two, usually to put another word between the parts.

    The recommended daily allowance

  • In tmesis we break a work in two, usually to put another word between the parts.

    Archive 2004-06-01

  • (In English only the compounds of "ever" readily lend themselves to tmesis.)

    Archive 2004-06-01

Comments

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  • "West By God Virginia" is the one my father used to say.

    March 8, 2007

  • Separation of the parts of a compound word by one or more intervening words; for example, "where I go ever" instead of "wherever I go".

    April 7, 2007

  • How about "abso freakin' lutely?"

    See also dystmesis.

    October 3, 2007

  • When we were kids and were told to behave, we'd reply with, "But I am being hayve!" ;-)

    October 3, 2007

  • Or unfuckinbelievable.

    October 5, 2007

  • Fanfuckingtastic is my fave.

    October 5, 2007

  • Infuckingcredible!

    August 17, 2008

  • Come on. Tfuckingmesis.

    August 17, 2008

  • Does supercalifreakinawesome work?

    August 18, 2008

  • "You can always tell a cuckoo from Bridge End .... it goes cuck-BLOODY-OO, cuck-BLOODY-OO, cuck-BLOODY-OO."

    Dylan Thomas, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog

    November 20, 2008