One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The device of giving emphasis by professing to say little or nothing of a subject, as in not to mention their unpaid debts of several millions.
- ‘‘This is a rhetorician's little joke, Wittenberg comments, ‘based in the self-effacing irony of paralipsis’.’
- ‘It is of greater advantage to create a suspicion by paralipsis [occulte fecisse] than to insist directly on a statement that is refutable.’
- ‘Typically, a paralipsis is introduced by phrases such as "we need say nothing of" or "not to mention," as in: "The restaurant was dirty and noisy, not to mention the waiters."’
Late 16th century: via late Latin from Greek paraleipsis ‘passing over’, from paraleipein ‘omit’, from para- ‘aside’ + leipein ‘to leave’.
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