20 Repetition Examples Worth Repeating (+10 Repetition Types)

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We see repetition examples everywhere — in books, movies, music, and even commercials.

Advertisers use repetition to craft catchy slogans that entice us to buy. Musicians use it to create songs that get stuck in our heads. Politicians use it to persuade nations.

But you? 

How can you use repetition to spice up your writing and make it memorable?

I’ll show you how. 

But first, we need to start with the basics. So let’s define repetition then jump into some examples. 

Shall we?

What is Repetition

Repetition is a literary device where words or phrases repeat for emphasis

There are several types of repetition. For instance, alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds. 

You might remember this consonance example from your childhood:

“Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”

Sound familiar?

But repetition is used for more than just childhood tongue twisters. If used correctly, it’ll strengthen your writing by:

  • Emphasizing your message
  • Boosting memorability
  • Adding rhythm
  • Linking ideas or topics together

But I should issue a warning.

There’s a fine line between repetition and redundancy.

For example, take the following paragraph:

He raced to the grocery store. He went inside but realized he forgot his wallet. He raced back home to grab it. Once he found it, he raced to the car again and drove back to the grocery store.

“Raced” is repeated, but it doesn’t strengthen the sentences. Instead, it sounds like the author couldn’t think of better word choices.  

What follows, then, is too many filler words that confuse the reader and lose their attention. 

Now compare that redundant paragraph to this repetition example:

It was the best of times,

it was the worst of times,

it was the age of wisdom,

it was the age of foolishness,

Do you see how compelling that is? 

It’s the opening to Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities. 

Dickens’ repetition draws his readers in and encourages them to keep turning the page. 

Can it do the same for you and your audience?

Yes. 

Let’s show you how to replicate this with more examples.

10 Types of Repetition with Examples 

Repetition is an umbrella literary device that includes more specific types of stylistic tools, like alliteration, epistrophe, diacope, and others. 

And here’s a hint:

Each type of repetition serves a unique purpose. The one you choose depends on what you’re trying to convey. 

So let’s talk about that next. 

1. Anaphora 

Anaphora is the repetition of words at the beginning of successive clauses

It’s common in music, poems, and children’s books that have a rhyming element.

For example, Nico and Vinz’s song “Am I Wrong?” features this anaphora:

So am I wrong for thinking that we could be something for real?

Now am I wrong for trying to reach the things that I can’t see?

Listen to how catchy this line sounds below:

Anaphora can also be used in speeches to motivate people. Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech included this repetition example:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

See what I mean? 

Repetition not only emphasized Dr. King’s point, but it made it more memorable and quotable. 

2. Epizeuxis

Epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession. 

Winston Churchill used epizeuxis in his address to Harrow School:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty-never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.

How’s that for a commencement speech?

Churchill was known for his inspiring speeches that were packed full of powerful words and rhetorical devices

But while repetition examples are common in speeches, they don’t stop there. Writers have used repetition for ages.

For example, in King Lear, William Shakespeare wrote:

And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life!

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,

And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,

Never, never, never, never!

In the scene above, King Lear is grieving the death of his daughter. The use of epizeuxis is a perfect choice for this scene because it strengthens the emotion.

3. Epistrophe 

Epistrophe, also called “epiphora,” uses repetition at the end of independent clauses or sentences. 

Many writers and speakers use epistrophe to drive home their points. 

Abraham Lincoln achieved this in his “Gettysburg Address”:

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Powerful, isn’t it?

Many musicians also love using repetition to add a regular rhythm to their songs and make them catchy. 

And they’re right. 

We see it in Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” song:

‘Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

Don’t be mad once you see that he want it

4. Negative-Positive Restatement

A negative-positive restatement states an idea twice, first in negative terms and then in positive terms. These are typically “not this, but that” statements. 

For example:

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” said John F. Kennedy. 

Another famous negative-positive restatement comes from Martin Luther King. He said, “Freedom is not given; it is won.”

5. Diacope  

Diacope is the repetition of a single word or phrase, separated by intervening words. It comes from the Greek word thiakhop, which means “cutting in two.”

My favorite example comes from Michael Jordan. He said:

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

Jordan first said this in a Nike ad. You can watch this short commercial below. I promise you won’t be disappointed:

Speaking of commercials, Maybelline uses a diacope in their tagline when they say, “Maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s Maybelline.”

6. Epanalepsis 

Epanalepsis repeats words or phrases at the beginning and the end of the same sentence or clause

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