Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

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Rhetorical Device Chiasmus

Chiasmus signThe Rhetorical Device, Chiasmus means repetition of ideas in inverted order.

For example: “It is boring to eat; to sleep fulfilling.”

Chiasmus frequently uses the pattern above which is present participle-infinitive; infinitive-present participle.

Other examples:

“The instinct of a man is
to pursue everything that flies from him, and
to fly from all that pursues him.”  (Voltaire)

“Bad men live that they may eat and drink,
whereas good men eat and drink that they may live.” – Socrates (5th Century B.C.)

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (Macbeth, I, i)

“Judge not, lest ye be judged”

John F. Kennedy’s famous “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”

Information from Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric and Literary Devices


  1. Silva Rhetoricae gives source credit for all Chiasmus examples with exception of “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Mattityahu 7:1 Jewish translation or “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 in the Christian Holy Bible, King James Version.

  2. ladywinfred says:

    I sure hope there’s never a test on the names of all these rhetorical devices you keep throwing at us. I’d fail hands down. Fun stuff, though. Thanks!

    • No test, Ladywinfred. LOL. I don’t remember the names either except for a few that I use frequently. It’s fun to know the names of what we naturally use or hear or read.
      Thanks for reading.

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