One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounPlural tmesesmass noun
The separation of parts of a compound word by an intervening word or words, used mainly in informal speech for emphasis (e.g. can't find it any-blooming-where).
- ‘Isn't phrasal tmesis a syntactic equivalent of those ‘specious lines of play’ his books are filled with?’
- ‘Did I ever say how much I love a good bit of tmesis?’
- ‘A master of so many poetic devices, Humbert riddles the narrative with instances of tmesis, the figure Hartman identifies as the epitome of poetry's elided middles and overspecified ends.’
- ‘But my abso-bloody-lutely favourite way of swearing is to use bastardised tmesis - the splitting up of a compound word into parts, and then slotting a rude word in the middle.’
Mid 16th century: from Greek tmēsis ‘cutting’, from temnein ‘to cut’.
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