Definition of chiasmus in English:



  • A rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order.

    • ‘The chiasmus points to how the questions function as quasi-incantations rather than genuine queries needing answers.’
    • ‘This is one of the better examples of Dowdian wordplay, as the throwaway ‘or vice versa’ cleverly suggests an absurd chiasmus.’
    • ‘An analysis of this speech reveals that the student used varied repetition strategies, including anaphora, antithesis, chiasmus, and parallelism.’
    • ‘Ovid's chiasmus is a rhetorical picture of the lovers being pulled apart.’
    • ‘One such description occurs in the opening lines of the poem as Milton joins two rhetorical devices, chiasmus and paradox, to declare his subject.’
    • ‘He or she may have heard of alliteration, onomatopoeia, metonymy, synecdoche, and chiasmus.’


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘crosswise arrangement’): modern Latin, from Greek khiasmos, from khiazein mark with the letter chi, from khi chi.