Definition of aposiopesis in English:



mass nounRhetoric
  • The device of suddenly breaking off in speech.

    ‘in coping with the unsaid and unsayable, oral history is impelled towards aposiopesis’
    • ‘In ancient Greek rhetoric, the aposiopesis occasionally takes the form of a pause before a change of subject or a digression.’
    • ‘I simply do not know what it…’ (All the aposiopeses, incidentally, are Gogol's.)’
    • ‘She uses the dash in the traditional manner, marking pauses, aposiopesis, and rhetorical transitions, but she also uses it in a non-traditional manner.’
    • ‘The first sentence is a continuation of the aposiopesis in the previous paragraph - the answer to the unspoken question, ‘What did you think about?’’
    • ‘This wouldn't be much of a play, so Donaghy tells it in stammers and dithers, fragmented verbiage and non sequiturs, inchoate bits and overlapping dialogue, aposiopesis and time lags (a question is answered three or four lines later).’


Late 16th century: via Latin from Greek aposiōpēsis, from aposiōpan ‘be silent’.