Repetition - Examples and Definition of Repetition (2023)

Definition of Repetition

Repetition is a literary device that involves intentionally using a word or phrase for effect, two or more times in a speech or written work. For repetition to be noticeable, the words or phrases should be repeated within close proximity of each other. Repeating the same words or phrases in a literary work of poetry or prose can bring clarity to an idea and/or make it memorable for the reader.

For example, in the statement “What you own ends up owning you,”own is repeated in two different ways. This repetition gives greater clarity to the meaning of the statement as a whole. Consumers often believe that they have power over what they acquire since they own it. However, the power of ownership over things is misleading in that often our things have power over us. What we acquire can limit and influence our lives in negative ways, such that our things are owning us. Therefore, repetition in this statement creates a clear meaning of the concept as well as making it memorable for the reader.

Common Examples of Repetition

Many common phrases in conversation and writing contain repetition. Here are some familiar examples of repetition:

  • Time after time
  • Heart to heart
  • Boys will be boys
  • Hand in hand
  • Get ready; get set; go
  • Hour to hour
  • Sorry, not sorry
  • Over and over
  • Home sweet home
  • Smile, smile, smile at your mind as often as possible.
  • Alone, alone at last
  • Now you see me; now you don’t
  • Rain, rain go away
  • All for one and one for all
  • It is what it is

Examples of Repetition in Movie Lines

Many of the most famous quotes from movies contain repetition as a device. Here are some examples of repetition in movie lines:

  • “Hey! I’m walking here! I’m walking here!” (Midnight Cowboy)
  • “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.” (Taxi Driver)
  • “You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” (On the Waterfront)
  • “Bond. James Bond.” (James Bond films)
  • “Wax on. Wax off.” (The Karate Kid)
  • “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” (The Help)
  • “Stupid is as stupid does.” (Forrest Gump)
  • “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” (Back to the Future)
  • “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” (Fight Club)
  • “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order!” (And Justice for All)

Famous Examples of Repetition

Think you haven’t heard of any famous examples of repetition? Here are some instances of repetition in famous speeches, writings, and quotations:

(Video) Repetition || literary device repetition defined and explained with examples.

  • Ashes To Ashes, dust to dust (English Book of Common Prayer)
  • The sad truth is that the truth is sad. (Lemony Snicket)
  • The horror! The horror! (Heart of Darkness)
  • And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting (The Raven)
  • And that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth (Gettysburg Address)
  • O Captain! my Captain! (O Captain! My Captain!)
  • Think and wonder, wonder and think (Dr. Seuss)
  • Water, water everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)
  • Words, words, words (Hamlet)
  • Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. (Proverb)

Differences Between Repetition of Sounds

In addition to using repeating words and phrases as a literary device, writers may use repetition of sounds as well. Overall, the repetition of sound can provide rhythm, pacing, and musicality to a work of poetry or prose. These types of repeated sounds are consonance, assonance, and alliteration.

Consonance is the repetition of a consonant sound in a group of words, such as there is little butter in the bottle. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, such asthis lake takes the cake.Alliteration is the repetition of a sound in the initial letter of a group of words, such as selling sails is somewhat silly.

Though repetitions of sounds are also effective literary devices, in general, the literary term repetition refers to the intentional use of recurring words and phrases in poetry or prose. However, in a broad sense, repetition as a literary device includes repeating sounds through consonance, assonance, and alliteration as well.

Writing Repetition

Repetition, as a literary device, functions as a means of reinforcing a concept, thought, or idea for a reader by repeating certain words or phrases. Writers that utilize repetition call attention to what is being repeated. This can generate greater focus on a particular subject and intensify its meaning.

It’s essential that writers bear in mind that their audience may experience fatigue if repetition is overused. As a literary device, repetition should be used deliberately and not just for the sake of repeating a word or phrase. However, when used properly, repetition can be an influential device in writing.

(Video) What is Repetition?|definition| examples||well explained#literary_terms #literarydevices #repetition

Here are some ways that writers benefit from incorporating repetition into their work:

Sense of Rhythm

Repetition of sounds, words, or phrases allows for a sense of rhythm in a literary work. This is particularly effective when it comes to poetry and speeches. Rhythm affects the pacing and musicality of wording and phrasing. Therefore, repetition creates a sense of rhythm that can change the experience a reader and/or listener has with a literary work.

Create Emphasis

Repeating a word or phrase in a work of poetry or prose calls attention to it on behalf of the reader. This creates emphasis by highlighting the importance of the word or phrase. Therefore, the reader is more likely to consider the meaning of the word or phrase in a deeper way. Additionally, such emphasis on a concept, a thought, or an idea can be persuasive on behalf of the reader by underscoring its significance.

Purpose of Repetition in Literature

As far as the purpose of repetition in literature is concerned, it has three specific functions that the writers and poets have in their minds when they use repetitions.

  1. The first one is the stress upon some point so that it could reach its intended audiences.
  2. The second is to create intended impacts on the audiences by repeating the same phrase such as “I have a dream” in the speech of the same title by Martin Luther King. This repetition also serves the purpose of persuading the audience or readers.
  3. The third is to use repetition for melody and rhythm. It happens mostly in poetry though some prose writers such as Charles Dickens have used repetitions in prose for rhythm.

Use of Repetition in Sentences

  1. I have talked to all and talked in full that they would have to do their work on time.
  2. Most of the time and I say most of the time which means the maximum time you should spend on your studies.
  3. Whether you take it literally or you take it seriously or whatever you take it non-seriously, it is necessary to stop driving at this moment.
  4. Sometimes birds fly away and fly away so fast and so suddenly that it surprises the people.
  5. Whether you leave this place or leave that place, the important point is you must leave right now.

Examples of Repetition in Literature

Repetition is a commonly used literary device. Here are some examples of repetition and how it adds to the value of well-known literary works:

(Video) repetition - figure of speech with examples

Example 1:Macbeth (William Shakespeare)

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

In this Shakespearean soliloquy, Macbeth is lamenting the death of his wife and repeats the word “tomorrow” three times. Macbeth’s repetition of this word calls attention to the fact that his wife no longer has any tomorrow, and that the tomorrows Macbeth has remaining will be a repetition of life without her.

The rhythm established by the repetition of tomorrow also serves to highlight a sense of futility and mundanity in a word that typically connotes the expectation of change or something new. Instead, the repetition of the word renders it meaningless and without the promise of hope. Therefore, just as Macbeth has accumulated nothing in the play, his accumulation of tomorrows also represents nothing.

Example 2:A Dog Has Died (Pablo Neruda; translated by Alfred Yankauer)

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival

waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

(Video) What is Repetition | Explained in 2 min

In this poem, Neruda uses repetition of the word “heaven,” both as a place and a concept. This demonstrates the grief the poet feels for how death has separated him from the friendship of his dog. This is an interesting use of repetition as a literary device in that it is the separation of the poet from his dog through death that is emphasized, more than the dog’s actual death.

Neruda achieves this through the poet stating that he does not believe in a heaven for humans, but he does believe in a heaven for dogs. The fact that the poet will “never enter” this heaven for “dogdom” indicates his realization that the dog’s death means a permanent separation of their friendship. Through this repetition of heaven as a concept for dogs but not humans, the reader gains an even greater sense of the grief the poet must be experiencing. The image of the dog waiting for his human’s arrival in heaven is therefore even more heartbreaking.

The only way the poet can “join” his dog again is by dying and being buried in the same garden. However, this juxtaposition in burial is as meaningless as the “rusted old machine” next to them; it represents earthly decay rather than the promised afterlife of heaven and togetherness.

Example 3:The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (Carson McCullers)

But the hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes. The heart of a hurt child can shrink so that forever afterward it is hard and pitted as the seed of a peach. Or again, the heart of such a child may fester and swell until it is a misery to carry within the body, easily chafed and hurt by the most ordinary things.

In this passage, McCullers repeats the words “heart” and “child.” This repetition is an effective literary device in that it reinforces for the reader that the heart is both impressionable and vulnerable in children, just as a child is impressionable and vulnerable as well. By linking and repeating these words, McCullers provides clarity for readers that what is done to a child will affect their heart, and therefore affect their capacity for love and emotion for the remainder of their lives. Through repetition, McCullers conveys to the reader that the heart as an “organ” and a child are subject to the same pain and lasting consequences.

(Video) Repetition vs Alliteration | Figure of Speech | Part 3

Synonyms of Repetition

There are several words that come very close to repetition in meanings such as reiteration, repeat, repeating, restatement, rephrasing, retelling, iteration, recital, recap, reprise, echo, echoing, copy, copying, and quoting.

Related posts:

  • Examples of Repetition in Poetry
  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow


What is the best definition of repetition? ›

noun. the act of repeating, or doing, saying, or writing something again; repeated action, performance, production, or presentation. repeated utterance; reiteration. something made by or resulting from repeating.

What is a repetition simple definition? ›

: the act or an instance of repeating or being repeated. : a motion or exercise (such as a push-up) that is repeated and usually counted.

What is the definition of repetition in literature? ›

Repetition refers to the use of the same word or phrase multiple times and is a fundamental poetic technique.

What are 5 examples of repetition? ›

Here are some familiar examples of repetition:
  • Time after time.
  • Heart to heart.
  • Boys will be boys.
  • Hand in hand.
  • Get ready; get set; go.
  • Hour to hour.
  • Sorry, not sorry.
  • Over and over.

What is a good example of repetition? ›

Repetition is when a single word or phrase is used multiple times in short succession for effect. It can help emphasise a point. For example, 'I have to practice my times tables over so I can learn them' vs 'I have to practice my times tables over and over and over again so I can learn them. '

What are types of repetition? ›

What are the types of repetition? Writers typically employ ten types of repetition: Epizeuxis, Anaphora, Mesodiplosis, Epistrophe, Symploce, Antanclasis, Antistasis, Negative-Positive Restatement, Diacope, and Gradatio.

What is an example of a repetition poem? ›

Examples of Repetition in Poetry

In the poem 'War is Kind' by Stephen Crane, the lines 'Do not weep. War is kind' is repeated to contrast the horrors of war.

What are the three types of repetition? ›

III. Common Types of Repetition
  • Anaphora is the repetition of a word at the beginning of each phrase or clause. ...
  • Epistrophe is the repetition of a word at the end of each phrase or clause. ...
  • Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, which creates rhyme.

What is the definition of repetition in art? ›

Repetition is simply repeating a single element many times in a design. For example, you could draw a line horizontally and then draw several others next to it.

How do you identify repetition? ›

For repetition to be noticeable, the words or phrases should be repeated within proximity of each other. Repeating the same words or phrases in a literary work of poetry or prose can bring clarity to an idea and/or make it memorable for the reader.

How do you use repetition? ›

Repetition is a simple and fairly easy device to use in writing.
How to use Repetition
  1. Choose words that you think are important and worth stressing.
  2. Repeat those words in a way that is memorable. ...
  3. Not overuse it, or it will loose its effect—just use repetition at points when it will have the most impact.

What is name repetition? ›

Diaphora is the repetition of a name, first to signify the person or persons it describes, then to signify its meaning. In modern English it has become the standard form of syntax in the example of the personal possessive pronouns given below.

What is the symbol of repetition? ›

The ditto mark is a shorthand sign, used mostly in hand-written text, indicating that the words or figures above it are to be repeated. The mark is made using 'a pair of apostrophes'; 'a pair of marks " used underneath a word'; the symbol " (quotation mark); or the symbol ” (right double quotation mark).

Which is an example of learning through repetition? ›

Repetition in Reading Books

After the story (later that day or another day), you might have your child draw pictures about the book or act out the story. Later in the week, you might read a different book by the same author and talk about the differences and similarities. Repetition is the key for any learning.

What is the repetition of a word in a sentence? ›

In rhetoric, epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession, typically within the same sentence, for vehemence or emphasis. A closely related rhetorical device is diacope, which involves word repetition that is broken up by a single intervening word, or a small number of intervening words.

What is sound repetition example? ›

Repeated consonant sounds in the middle or at the ends of words is called internal alliteration. Repetition of vowel sounds is called assonance. Consonance is a repetition of consonant sounds. Example: A sable, silent, solemn forest stood (James Thomson, "The Castle of Indolence").

What is the rule of 3 examples? ›

For example: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”

What is an example of repetition in persuasive writing? ›

Repetition in Persuasive Writing

Adverts repeat certain words to grab the reader or audience's attention. They might repeat 'FREE' or '10% off!' to make the offer stick in people's minds, so that they're more likely to take up the offer later.

What is a repetition statement? ›

A repetition statement (also called a looping statement, an iteration statement or a loop) allows you to specify that an action should be repeated, depending on the value of a loop-continuation condition or a loop-termination condition.

What are the two 2 types of repetition structure? ›

There are three different forms of Visual Basic repetition structures: Do While structures, For structures, and Do/Loop Until structures.

What is repetition behavior? ›

Repetition compulsion, or repetitive compulsion, is sometimes also called trauma reenactment. It involves repeating physically or emotionally painful situations that happened in the past. The reenactment may take the form of recurring dreams and may affect relationships in various ways.

What is the definition of repetition in photography? ›

Repetition in photography means using repeating shapes or a repetitive pattern inside the frame as part of the composition. Repetition can also be the image's main subject instead of just being a tool for photography composition. When this is the case, it's called pattern photography.

Why is a repetition important? ›

The importance of repetition cannot be understated. In fact, it should be repeated that repetition is an essential learning aid. It allows a conscious skill to transfer into one's subconscious, freeing up working memory and allowing for further skills learning (“The Power of Repetition”, 2016).

What is the importance of the repetition? ›

Repetition Helps Language Development

With each exposure to a song, story, or action, a child has an opportunity to learn even more about what they're trying to understand. Repetition in speech also assists with language acquisition, especially in infants.

What does repetition mean in psychology? ›

the fact that repeated presentation of information or items typically leads to better memory for the material. The repetition effect is a general principle of learning, although there are exceptions and modifiers. For instance, spaced repetitions are usually more effective than massed repetitions.

What does repetition mean in art? ›

Repetition is simply repeating a single element many times in a design. For example, you could draw a line horizontally and then draw several others next to it.

What does repetition mean in research? ›

The repetition principle stabilizes the mean and the standard variation, so that statistics of the sample can well represent the parameters of the population. Thus, the statistical inference will be reliable.

What is repetition in poetry called? ›

Often used in political speeches and occasionally in prose and poetry, anaphora is the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.

What is an example of repetition in psychology? ›

Some examples of repetition compulsion include: Someone who has experienced abuse as a child who goes on to have adult relationships which are abusive. Someone who experienced violence in their childhood is more likely to become perpetrators of violence later in life.

What does the use of repetition mean? ›

Repetition is an instance where a word or phrase is repeated to provide clarity and emphasis, highlighting deeper meanings in the text. Now, repetition can be both subtle and obvious, and writers can get very creative about what those repeating words signify.

What poems use repetition? ›

Examples of Repetition in Poetry
  • All the world is a stage – William Shakespeare.
  • Stopping by the woods in the snowy evening – Robert Frost.
  • Excelsior – Henry. W. Longfellow.
  • O Captain! My Captain! – Walt Witman.
  • The Bells – Edgar Allan.
  • War Is Kind – Stephen Crane.
  • Best Kind – Alex.
  • But You Didn't – Merrill Glass.

How do you find repetition in a poem? ›

For repetition to be noticeable, the words or phrases should be repeated within proximity of each other. Repeating the same words or phrases in a literary work of poetry or prose can bring clarity to an idea and/or make it memorable for the reader. Without repetition: 'The soup was stirred until thickened. '

What is repetition in rhyme? ›

The repetition of similar endings of words or even of identical syllables (rime riche) constitutes rhyme, used generally to bind lines together into larger units or to set up relationships within the same line (internal rhyme).


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