Asyndeton, a Rhetorical Device

Rhetorical devicesRhetorical Devices attract and hold attention with words. Asyndeton is one in which conjunctions are omitted deliberately from a series. Julius Caesar eliminated “and” when he said, “I came. I saw. I conquered.”

Asyndeton produces a hurried rhythm in a sentence. It creates a concise, dramatic effect. Abraham Lincoln used asyndeton when he said, “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Perhaps a character could be described as “She had cold feet, cold hands, cold heart.”

Maybe another character could speak Italian, French, German. An athlete could claim, “I play football, baseball, soccer, hockey.” A college student lists his subjects: “I’m taking Statistics, Physics, English, Film.”

In 2007. Steve Jobs described the new smart phone, “Thinner than the Q, thinner than the BlackJack, thinner than all of them.”

Have you used asyndeton in your writing?


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For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

2 thoughts on “Asyndeton, a Rhetorical Device”

  1. Yes, I have used asyndeton in my writing. I just never knew that was what it was called. I use it fairly often (but try not to overdo it). Recently, when I used it, some simpleton told me it was “grammatically incorrect”. Lord, please save me from “experts”.


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