AskDefine | Define hyperbaton

Dictionary Definition

hyperbaton n : reversal of normal word order (as in `cheese I love')

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin hyperbaton, from Greek ὑπερβατον ‘overstepping’, from ὑπερβαινειν, from ὑπερ- + βαίνειν ‘walk’.




  1. In the context of "grammar|rhetoric": An inversion of the usual or logical order of words or phrases, for emphasis or poetic effect.

Extensive Definition

Hyperbaton is a figure of speech in which words that naturally belong together are separated from each other for emphasis or effect. This kind of unnatural or rhetorical separation is possible to a much greater degree in highly inflected languages, where sentence meaning does not depend closely on word order. In Latin and Ancient Greek, the effect of hyperbaton is usually to emphasize the first word. It has been called "perhaps the most distinctively alien feature of Latin word order."


"Hyperbaton" is a word borrowed from the Greek hyperbaton (), meaning "transposition," which is derived from hyper ("over") and bainein ("to step"), with the -tos verbal adjective suffix.

Species of hyperbaton

The term may be used in general for figures of disorder (deliberate and dramatic departures from standard word order). Donatus, in his work On tropes, thus includes under hyperbaton five species: hysterologia, anastrophe (for which the term hyperbaton is sometimes used loosely as a synonym), parenthesis, tmesis, and synchysis. Apposition might also be included.


Hyperbaton in English

Hyperbaton in highly inflected languages

  • (Demosthenes 18.158, "Greece has suffered such things at the hands of one person": the word "one", henos, occurs in its normal place after the preposition "at the hands of" [hypo], but "person" [anthrōpou] is unnaturally delayed, giving emphasis to "one.")
  • (Occurs several times in Euripides, "[I entreat] you by your knees": the word "you" [se] unnaturally divides the preposition "by" from its object "knees.")
  • ab Hyrcanis Indoque a litore siluis (Lucan 8.343, "from the Hyrcanian woods and from the Indian shore": "and from the Indian shore" is inserted between "Hyrcanian" and "woods" [siluis])



  • Greek Grammar

External links

hyperbaton in Catalan: Hipèrbaton
hyperbaton in German: Hyperbaton
hyperbaton in Spanish: Hipérbaton
hyperbaton in French: Hyperbate
hyperbaton in Galician: Hipérbato
hyperbaton in Ido: Hiperbato
hyperbaton in Italian: Iperbato
hyperbaton in Dutch: Hyperbaton
hyperbaton in Occitan (post 1500): Iperbaton
hyperbaton in Polish: Hyperbaton
hyperbaton in Portuguese: Hipérbato
hyperbaton in Russian: Гипербатон
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