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

  • n. The deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs; for example, "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills” ( Winston S. Churchill).
  • n. Linguistics The use of a linguistic unit, such as a pronoun, to refer back to another unit, as the use of her to refer to Anne in the sentence Anne asked Edward to pass her the salt.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The repetition of a phrase at the beginning of phrases, sentences, or verses, used for emphasis.
  • n. An expression that can refer to virtually any referent, the specific referent being defined by context.
  • n. An expression that refers to a preceding expression.
  • n. Plural form of anaphor.
  • n. Plural form of anaphora.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A repetition of a word or of words at the beginning of two or more successive clauses.
  • n. the use of a substitute word, such as a pronoun, in reference to a something already mentioned in a discourse; also, the relation between the substitute word and its antecedent. It is contrasted with cataphora, the use of a pronoun for a word or topic not yet mentioned.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In rhetoric, a figure consisting in the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of two or more succeeding verses, clauses, or sentences: as, “Where is the wise ? where is the scribe ? where is the disputer of this world?” 1 Cor. i. 20.
  • n. In astronomy, the oblique ascension of a star.
  • n. In liturgics, the more solemn part of the eucharistic service: probably so called from the oblation which occurs in it.

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

  • n. using a pronoun or similar word instead of repeating a word used earlier
  • n. repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses


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

Late Latin, from Greek, from anapherein, to bring back : ana-, ana- + pherein, to carry; see bher-1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek ἀναφορά (anaphora, "a carrying back"), from ἀνά (ana, "up") + φέρω (pherō, "I carry").



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  • Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the baker's shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger was shred into atomies in every fathing porringer of husky chips of potatio, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.

    A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

    June 10, 2010

  • In linguistics however, anaphora is indexing between two elements in a sentence, normally a noun phrase and a coreferential pronoun. For example, 'John saw himself in the mirror', 'John hit the mirror and smashed it'. Here 'John' is co-indexed with the anaphor 'himself', and 'mirror' with the anaphor 'it'.

    In the Chomskyan tradition the term 'anaphor' is restricted to the former (reflexives and reciprocals), and the latter kind are contrastively called 'pronouns'. In wider linguistic circles I think they are all called anaphors.

    Usually coreferential; but note that the antecedent can be something lacking reference, e.g. 'Luckily nobody lost their life': 'their' is anaphoric to its non-referential antecedent 'nobody'.

    January 21, 2009

  • “Using the technique that rhetoricians call anaphora, repeating a phrase at the opening of successive sentences, Obama said: ‘This is the price and the promise… This is the source of our confidence… This is the meaning of our liberty…’�?

    The New York Times, ‘The Speech’: The Experts’ Critique, by The Editors, January 20, 2009

    January 21, 2009

  • let no human make war upon any other human, let no Terran agency conspire against this new beginning, and let no man consort with alien powers. And to all the enemies of humanity, seek not to bar our way, for we shall win through no matter the cost."

    March 29, 2007