HomeBlogBlogging9 Epistrophe Examples That’ll Stylize Your Writing! (+ Definition)

9 Epistrophe Examples That’ll Stylize Your Writing! (+ Definition)


Do you know of any epistrophe examples?

You probably know more than you think…

“I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper

Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?”

The repetition of a pepper” in this commercial jingle is an epistrophe.

In this post, you’ll discover what an epistrophe is, see some examples, and learn how you can use this style of rhythmic repetition to capture the attention of your readers.

Let’s jump in!

Epistrophe Examples Epistrophe Definition

What is the Definition of Epistrophe?

Epistrophe (ih-pis-truh-fee) is a Greek word (epistrophe), which means “turning upon.” Other words for epistrophe are epiphora and antistrophe

Ever heard of it?

It’s a literary device you can use to add emphasis to a word or phrase by repeating it at the end of two or more consecutive phrases or sentences, such as Lincoln’s:

“of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Let’s look at another example:

Last week, I ate my favorite cookies

Yesterday, I ate my favorite cookies

And today, I ate my favorite cookies.

But epistrophe isn’t your only choice when it comes to literary repetition.

How is Epistrophe Different From Other Literary Repetition?

Repetition comprises a variety of literary devices you can use to add emphasis to your writing.

And remember: repetition packs a mega punch of memory power.

For example, is that Dr. Pepper jingle still repeating in your mind?

I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper… 

Many of us are familiar with the literary terms, rhyming, alliterationassonance, and consonance, which use repetitive sounds to create a rhythmic flow that is pleasing to listeners and readers.

Epistrophe goes beyond rhyming by repeating the same word(s) at the end of successive phrases or sentences. 

Let’s take a quick look at a similar technique called anaphora.

Epistrophe vs. Anaphora

Anaphora is another rhetorical device that uses repetition but at the beginning of each phrase or sentence rather than at the end.

You is smart. 

You is kind. 

You is important.” 

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

You could avoid the successive clauses and say, “You are kind, smart, and important.”

But it would lack the deeper emotional impact of anaphora. 

Anaphora + Epistrophe = Symploce 

In Symploce, you use the repeated word, clause, or phrase at both the beginning and the end of your phrases, like in this ancient Hebrew blessing:

“The Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make His face to shine upon you,and be gracious to you

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

— Numbers 6:24-26

Now, let’s look at a few more examples of epistrophe.

Epistrophe Examples From Famous Speeches

Wouldn’t you love to have a technique that drives home the main points of your speech and makes them super easy to remember?

Political figures, or their speech writers, use epistrophe strategically to give listeners pleasant-sounding, rhyming repetition to help them remember their main points. 

How many of these have you heard?

Gettysburg Address

“… and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” 

As Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in 1863, he used repetition of “the people” to inspire his listeners and declare the American ideal of a government that is managed by us, the people.

Wittenberg College Speech

“For no government is better than the men who compose it, and I want the best, and we need the best, and we deserve the best.” 

John F. Kennedy used epistrophe to great effect by emphasizing that “the best” is what we want, need, and deserve.

We Shall Overcome 

“There is no Negro problem

There is no Southern problem

There is no Northern problem

There is only an American problem.”

When Lyndon B. Johnson addressed Congress in 1965, he used the dual repetition of “there is no” (anaphora) and “problem”(epistrophe) to emphasize his stunning conclusion with the contrasting words “There is only” 

Epistrophe Examples From Classic Literature

From the Bible to Walt Whitman to The Grapes of Wrath, classic literature abounds in epistrophe. 

This type of repetition gives us many of our favorite quotes from the books we read and the poetry we love.

Do you recognize any of these?

1 Corinthians 13:11

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child

I thought like a child

I reasoned like a child.

When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” 

The well-quoted “Love Chapter” of the Bible uses the repetition of “like a child” to build a striking contrast between doing things the way a child would, and acting with maturity.

Song of Myself

“The moth and the fish eggs are in their place,

The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,

The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.”

Walt Whitman illustrates a few things that are “in their place” to indicate that all things are in their place. 

The Grapes of Wrath

“Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.

 Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there.”

John Steinbeck used epistrophe to emphasize “I’ll be there” in this famous example.   

Epistrophe Examples From Pop Culture

We all use repetition to emphasize our key thoughts. Yet, many of us don’t realize the variety of ways we can use it to improve our writing. 

Epistrophe is especially effective in song lyrics, movie scripts, and commercial jingles.

Here are a few examples that show you how it works…

Lithium

Youtube Video

“I like it, I’m not gonna crack

I miss you, I’m not gonna crack

I love you, I’m not gonna crack

I killed you, I’m not gonna crack

Nirvana’s songwriter, Kurt Cobain, wrote a perfect description of manic depression in his song “Lithium,” including a bridge that uses repetition to make a series of impassioned declarations, ending with “I’m not gonna crack.” 

The Breakfast Club

Youtube Video

“Don’t you ever talk about my friends

You don’t know any of my friends

You don’t look at any of my friends

And you certainly wouldn’t condescend to speak to any of my friends.” 

In this 1985 American coming-of-age movie, the character John Bender uses repetition of “my friends” to express his deep anger about how others judge his friends.

Dr. Pepper Jingle

Youtube Video

And who could forget this classic commercial jingle for Dr. Pepper?

“I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper

Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?”

You just sang that, right?

Reasons to Use Epistrophe in Your Writing

The function of epistrophe is to add emphasis to an idea, a thought, or a passage. 

It is especially effective when the repeated idea is one that concerns your readers.

Or when it strikes a stark contrast to the last line or next thought. (See above examples: We Will Overcome, 1 Corinthians 13:11)

It is a powerful tool in storytelling or persuasive writing that can lift your writing up to a higher level.

Writers use epistrophe to:

  • Add emphasis
  • Deepen emotional impact
  • Create a sense of rhythm and pacing
  • Evoke moods and emotions
  • Make their words more memorable 

Are you ready to try it?

Let’s take a look at how to put epistrophe into action.

How To Use Epistrophe in Writing

You’ll need to choose a key point you want to boost into a moment of emotional impact. A climax or a turning point.

You can’t emphasize everything. So, remember to use repetition sparingly. 

You don’t want to turn a great motivational story into a sing-songy mess.

So, let’s get to it!

You could describe some delicious food like this: 

“The steak, potatoes, vegetables, and dessert were all delicious.”

Or…

You can use epistrophe to make the food imagery super powerful and memorable.

“The steak was delicious

The potatoes were delicious

The vegetables were delicious.

And I almost stopped breathing when I saw the killer dessert.”

Here’s another example of a simple sentence:

“It’s time to heal the wounds and bridge the chasms that divide us.”

Nelson Mandela used epistrophe to say it like this:

“The time for the healing of the wounds has come

The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.”

And that’s the power of epistrophe!

Other Resources on Epistrophe For Further Study

If you’re interested in diving deeper into epistrophe, check out the resources linked below: 

What are Your Favorite Epistrophe Examples?

Now that you’ve seen some epic examples of epistrophe, which is your favorite?

Are you a Pepper?

Do you think like a child?

Are you gonna crack?

Now that you know how to add repetition to your writing, give epistrophe a try.

Now that you know your writing can have a deeper emotional impact that engages your readers, give epistrophe a try!

Now that you know how to emphasize your key ideas, and make your words more memorable, give epistrophe a try!

After all, you’re a Pepper. You don’t think like a child. And you’re not gonna crack.

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