Hypallage (//; from the Greek: ὑπαλλαγή, hypallagḗ, "interchange, exchange") is a literary device that is the reversal of the syntactic relation of two words (as in "restless nights" instead of "nights that were unrestful").
One kind of hypallage, also known as a transferred epithet, is the trope or rhetorical device in which a modifier, usually an adjective, is applied to the "wrong" word in the sentence. The word whose modifier is thus displaced can either be actually present in the sentence, or it can be implied logically. The effect often stresses the emotions or feelings of the individual by expanding them on to the environment. For example:
- "On the idle hill of summer/Sleepy with the flow of streams/Far I hear..." (A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad) — idle hill... sleepy is a hypallage: it is the narrator, not the hill, who exhibits these features.
- "Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time" — Wilfred Owen, "Dulce et Decorum est"
- "restless night" — The night was not restless, but the person who was awake through it was.
- "happy morning" — Mornings have no feelings, but the people who are awake through them do.
Hypallage is often used strikingly in Ancient Greek and Latin poetry. We find such examples of transferred epithets as "the winged sound of whirling" (δίνης πτερωτὸς φθόγγος), meaning "the sound of whirling wings" (Aristophanes, Birds 1198), and Horace's "angry crowns of kings" (iratos...regum apices, Odes 3.21.19f.). Virgil was given to hypallage beyond the transferred epithet, as "give the winds to the fleets" (dare classibus Austros, Aeneid 3.61), meaning "give the fleets to the winds."