Schesis onomaton

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Schesis onomaton ("state of nouns", from Ancient Greek σχέσις [skhésis, “state, condition, attitude”] and ὀνομάτων [onomátōn, "of nouns"]), often misspelled scesis onomaton,[1] was originally a rhetorical technique consisting of a sentence constructed only of nouns and adjectives. It later came to mean such a series of nouns and adjectives or any series of words that were synonymous expressions.[2] In the second sense it is a rhetorical technique used to emphasize an idea by repeating it rapidly using slightly different words that have the same or a very similar meaning.[3][4]

Examples of first meaning[edit]

A man faithful in friendship, prudent in counsels, virtuous in conversation, gentle in communication, learned in all liberal sciences, eloquent in utterance, comely in gesture, an enemy to naughtiness, and a lover of all virtue and godliness.

— Peacham[2]

Examples of second meaning[edit]

Wendy lay there, motionless in a peaceful slumber, very still in the arms of sleep.

— Robert A. Harris, VirtualSalt[5]


  1. ^ K.R. Brooks, reviewing The Gothic Commentary on the Gospel of John by William Holmes Bennett (Modern Language Review 58.1, 1963, 87-88), noted this about typographical errors: “It is a small fault, but a pity, that two grammatical terms of Greek origin, descriptive of figures of speech, should be consistently misspelt: for scesis (onomaton), which occurs on p. 36 and elsewhere, read schesis; for anthimeria (p. 39), read antimeria …”
  2. ^ a b Silva Rhetoricae, retrieved September 1, 2011.
  3. ^ American Rhetoric, retrieved September 1, 2011.
  4. ^ De Schematis et Tropis Sacrae Scripturae, Pars Prima - De Schematis by Bede: "Schesis onomaton, id est, multitudo nominum coniunctorum diverso sono unam rem significantium, ut Isaiae cap. I: Vae genti peccatrici, populo gravi iniquitate, semini nequam, filiis sceleratis! Item psalmo CV: Peccavimus cum patribus nostris, iniuste egimus, iniquitatem fecimus."
  5. ^ VirtualSalt: A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices retrieved September 1, 2011.