1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email




"Sorry I be but go you must." (Yoda in Star Wars)


A figure of speech that uses disruption or inversion of customary word order to produce a distinctive effect; also, a figure in which language takes a sudden turn--usually an interruption. Plural: hyperbata. Adjective: hyperbatonic.

See also:


From the Greek, "passed over, transposed"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man."
    (Edgar Allan Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart")

  • Maddie Hayes: Well, let me remind you Mr. Addison, that one case does not a detective make.
    David Addison: Well, let me remind you Ms. Hayes, that I hate it when you talk backwards.
    (Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis in Moonlighting, 1985)

  • "From Cocoon forth a Butterfly
    As Lady from her Door
    Emerged--a summer afternoon--
    Repairing everywhere."
    (Emily Dickinson, "From Cocoon forth a Butterfly")

  • "Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall."
    (Escalus in William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Act II, scene one)

  • "And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made"
    (W. B. Yeats, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree")

  • "pity this busy monster manunkind not"
    (e.e. cummings)

  • "One of the most common ways to use hyperbaton is to put an adjective after the noun it modifies, rather than before it. While this might be a normal word order in languages like French, in English it tends to give an air of mystery to a sentence: "The forest burned with a fire unquenchable--unquenchable except by the helicopter that finally arrived."

    "Hyperbaton can also put the verb all the way at the end of the sentence, rather than between the subject and the object. So rather than, She wouldn't, for any reason whatsoever, be married to that smelly, foul, unlikable man," you could write, She wouldn't, for any reason whatsoever, to that smelly, foul, unlikable man be married."

    "Not the force hyperbaton carries with it."
    (Brendan McGuigan, Rhetorical Devices: A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers. Prestwick House, 2007)

  • "One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day."

  • "Most theorists . . . have been content to return to the definition of hyperbaton as an inversion which expresses 'a violent movement of the soul' (Littre).

    "Hyperbaton may well be considered to result from inversion because it is possible to recast the sentence so as to integrate the added segment. But the effect characteristic of hyperbaton derives rather from the kind of spontaneity which imposes the addition of some truth, obvious or private, to a syntactic construction apparently already closed. Hyperbaton always consists in an adjacent assertion . . . . This appears all the more clearly when the grammatical link seems loosest, as in the case of and preceded by a comma. Ex: 'The arms of the morning are beautiful, and the sea' (Saint-Jean Perse, quoted by Daniel Delas, Poétique-pratique, p. 44)."
    (Bernard Marie Dupriez and Albert W. Halsall, A Dictionary of Literary Devices. Univ. of Toronto Press, 1991)
Pronunciation: high PER ba tun
Also Known As: anastrophe, inversion, transcensio, transgressio, tresspasser
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Fable - Hysteron Proteron
  6. hyperbaton - definition and examples of hyperbaton

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.