Polysyndeton

Definition:
Polysyndeton refers to the process of using conjunctions or connecting words frequently in a sentence, placed very close to one another. Opposed to the usual norm of using them sparsely, only where they are technically needed. The use of polysyndetons is primarily for adding dramatic effect as they have a strong rhetorical presence.

Example:

a) Saying “here and there and everywhere”, instead of simply saying “here, there and everywhere”.

b) “Marge and Susan and Anne and Daisy and Barry all planned to go for a picnic”, instead of “Marge, Susan, Anne, Daisy and Barry…” emphasizes each of the individuals and calls attention to every person one by one instead of assembling them as a group.

4 thoughts on “Polysyndeton”

  1. I’m reading Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series and I have been so frustrated at his use of incredibly long sentences strung together with and, and, and…..! I couldn’t believe a successful author could write to badly but I suspected it might have been a device. I still don’t like it, mind you, but perhaps he’s trying to convey urgency and the immaturity of the protagonist.

  2. Cormac McCarthy does this all the time in the Road when describing simple actions and it’s been bugging me and now I am happy there is a word for this and it’s made me think there is meaning I could extract out of it but it’s probably just a ruse.

  3. Susan Hill does this often in The Woman in Black as does Steinbeck in Gove’s favourite novella Of Mice and Men. Both for different effect mind! But nonetheless rhetorical… the author’s voice chiming through.

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