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20 Repetition Examples Worth Repeating (+10 Repetition Types)

We see repetition examples everywhere — in books, movies, music, and even commercials.

Advertisers use repetition to craft catchy slogans that entice us to buy. Musicians use it to create songs that get stuck in our heads. Politicians use it to persuade nations.

But you? 

How can you use repetition to spice up your writing and make it memorable?

I’ll show you how. 

But first, we need to start with the basics. So let’s define repetition then jump into some examples. 

Shall we?

“Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”

Sound familiar?

But I should issue a warning.

There’s a fine line between repetition and redundancy.

For example, take the following paragraph:

He raced to the grocery store. He went inside but realized he forgot his wallet. He raced back home to grab it. Once he found it, he raced to the car again and drove back to the grocery store.

“Raced” is repeated, but it doesn’t strengthen the sentences. Instead, it sounds like the author couldn’t think of better word choices.  

Now compare that redundant paragraph to this repetition example:

It was the best of times,

it was the worst of times,

it was the age of wisdom,

it was the age of foolishness,

Do you see how compelling that is? 

It’s the opening to Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities. 

Dickens’ repetition draws his readers in and encourages them to keep turning the page. 

Can it do the same for you and your audience?


Let’s show you how to replicate this with more examples.

Repetition is an umbrella literary device that includes more specific types of stylistic tools, like alliteration, epistrophe, diacope, and others. 

And here’s a hint:

Each type of repetition serves a unique purpose. The one you choose depends on what you’re trying to convey. 

So let’s talk about that next. 

It’s common in music, poems, and children’s books that have a rhyming element.

For example, Nico and Vinz’s song “Am I Wrong?” features this anaphora:

So am I wrong for thinking that we could be something for real?

Now am I wrong for trying to reach the things that I can’t see?

Listen to how catchy this line sounds below:

Anaphora can also be used in speeches to motivate people. Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech included this repetition example:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

See what I mean? 

Repetition not only emphasized Dr. King’s point, but it made it more memorable and quotable. 

Epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession. 

Winston Churchill used epizeuxis in his address to Harrow School:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty-never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.

How’s that for a commencement speech?

But while repetition examples are common in speeches, they don’t stop there. Writers have used repetition for ages.

For example, in King Lear, William Shakespeare wrote:

And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life!

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,

And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,

Never, never, never, never!

In the scene above, King Lear is grieving the death of his daughter. The use of epizeuxis is a perfect choice for this scene because it strengthens the emotion.

Epistrophe, also called “epiphora,” uses repetition at the end of independent clauses or sentences. 

Many writers and speakers use epistrophe to drive home their points. 

Abraham Lincoln achieved this in his “Gettysburg Address”:

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Powerful, isn’t it?

Many musicians also love using frequent repetition to add a regular rhythm to their songs and make them catchy. 

And they’re right. 

We see it in Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” song:

‘Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

Don’t be mad once you see that he want it

A negative-positive restatement states an idea twice, first in negative terms and then in positive terms. These are typically “not this, but that” statements. 

For example:

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” said John F. Kennedy. 

Another famous negative-positive restatement comes from Martin Luther King. He said, “Freedom is not given; it is won.”

Diacope is the repetition of a single word or phrase, separated by intervening words. It comes from the Greek word thiakhop, which means “cutting in two.”

(If it helps, think of diacope as “spaced repetition”)

My favorite example comes from Michael Jordan. He said:

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

Jordan first said this in a Nike ad. You can watch this short commercial below. I promise you won’t be disappointed:

Speaking of commercials, Maybelline uses a diacope in their tagline when they say, “Maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s Maybelline.”

Epanalepsis repeats words or phrases at the beginning and the end of the same sentence or clause

For example:

Control, control, you must learn control,” said Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back.

Check it out:

Epanalepsis puts a heavy emphasis on the idea you’re trying to convey. 

It also uses the “primacy” and “recency” effects which means the first and last thing we hear is more likely to stick in our minds. 

Some politicians love this technique. Politicians like John F. Kennedy. 

He used this repetition example in his address to the United Nations:

Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind.

Epimone uses repetition to dwell on a point. It’s commonly used in stories where a character is pleading or commanding someone to do something. 

We saw it in Oliver Goldsmith’s play, She Stoops to Conquer

I tell you, sir, I’m serious! And now that my passions are roused, I say this house is mine, sir; this house is mine, and I command you to leave it directly.

Epimone is also used to illustrate persistence. For example, in Webster’s address to the Senate, he said:

The cause, then, Sir, the cause! Let the world know the cause which has thus induced one State of the Union to bid defiance to the power of the whole, and openly to talk of secession.

Polyptoton involves the repetition of words that derive from the same root word

Here’s a famous quote from John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Remember that one?

“Absolute” and “absolutely” are different words, but they derive from the same root word

Polyptoton is common in headlines and book titles too. 

Heidi Murkoff’s popular book on pregnancy is titled What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Here’s a screenshot of the cover page:

Antistasis uses repetition to contrast two ideas. It derives from the Greek meaning “to stand against” or “opposing position.”

For example, when someone asks you:

“Are you working hard or hardly working?”

That’s an antistasis example because it contrasts two ideas on work. 

Advertisers use this technique too. The tagline of the Starkist Tuna commercials was:

“Sorry, Charlie. StarKist wants tuna that tastes good, not tuna with good taste.

Do you see how the combination of those contrasting ideas makes you stop and think? 

That’s the goal. 

Antanaclasis repeats the same word or phrase but with a different meaning each time. This repeated phrase is also known as a pun because it’s a play on words. 

Benjamin Franklin used it when he said, “Your argument is sound, nothing but sound.” 

In the first part, he said the argument is solid. In the second, he discounted it as noise. 

Vince Lombardi, a famous football coach, also used antanaclasis when he stated:

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”

See how easy that is?

Stating the same phrases in a different way makes them wittier.

Surprise, surprise:

Some of the best repetition examples come from books and poems.

It didn’t take long for many of the world’s most famous writers — like Shakespeare and Maya Angelou — to understand the power of this rhetorical device.

For example, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare used repetition when he said:

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Oh, woeful, oh woeful, woeful, woeful day!

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, he used repetition in successive phrases to emphasize his point:

The apartment was on the top floor-a small living-room, a small dining-room, a small bedroom, and a bath.

The repeated word “small” highlights to the reader how tiny Tom’s apartment is.

Maya Angelou also knew how to use this literary technique to her advantage. In her poem, Still I Rise, she said:

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

This repetition in poetry emphasizes Angelou’s main point and signifies her strength. 

Repetition is common in music because it makes it easy to sing along with the lyrics.

Here’s an example from Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”:

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog

Cryin’ all the time

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog

Cryin’ all the time

We also see repetition all the time in movies. 


Because it gives us quotable movie lines that stand the test of time. Here’s a famous repetition example from Taxi Driver:

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.

Hear this quote in action:

And then, of course, another famous repetition example comes from the James Bond series. James Bond always introduces himself as “Bond. James Bond.”

Let me ask you:

If there was an easy way to be more memorable, would you do it?

And if you could easily add emphasis to your message, would you do it?

Of course you would. 

Just by using repeated elements in one sentence or paragraph, you can:

Think of it this way.

There’s a reason why some of history’s most famous speakers used repetition — and it wasn’t for the sake of bells and whiles. You see, Winston Churchill, JFK, and Martin Luther King used it because it works. 

It makes your writing more persuasive, quotable, and memorable. And in writing, that’s considered the triple threat. 

Using repetition is simple.

Start by choosing an idea that you want to emphasize. Then repeat words that stress that idea and make your prose more quotable. 

But a friendly reminder:

Don’t overuse repetition. Just use it on thoughts or ideas that you want to carry a significant impact, or else it’ll lose its effect. 

Remember my redundancy example from earlier?

You don’t want to look like a lazy writer who couldn’t find a better way to word your message.

Instead, use it like David Schwartz when he said:

“The mind is what the mind is fed.”

See how that works? Now go try it for yourself.

You’ve got this. 

The post 20 Repetition Examples Worth Repeating (+10 Repetition Types) appeared first on Smart Blogger.


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