Repetition - Examples and Definition of Repetition (2023)

Definition of Repetition

Repetition is a literary device that involves intentionally using a word or phrase for effect, two or more times in a speech or written work. For repetition to be noticeable, the words or phrases should be repeated within close proximity of each other. Repeating the same words or phrases in a literary work of poetry or prose can bring clarity to an idea and/or make it memorable for the reader.

For example, in the statement “What you own ends up owning you,”own is repeated in two different ways. This repetition gives greater clarity to the meaning of the statement as a whole. Consumers often believe that they have power over what they acquire since they own it. However, the power of ownership over things is misleading in that often our things have power over us. What we acquire can limit and influence our lives in negative ways, such that our things are owning us. Therefore, repetition in this statement creates a clear meaning of the concept as well as making it memorable for the reader.

Common Examples of Repetition

Many common phrases in conversation and writing contain repetition. Here are some familiar examples of repetition:

  • Time after time
  • Heart to heart
  • Boys will be boys
  • Hand in hand
  • Get ready; get set; go
  • Hour to hour
  • Sorry, not sorry
  • Over and over
  • Home sweet home
  • Smile, smile, smile at your mind as often as possible.
  • Alone, alone at last
  • Now you see me; now you don’t
  • Rain, rain go away
  • All for one and one for all
  • It is what it is

Examples of Repetition in Movie Lines

Many of the most famous quotes from movies contain repetition as a device. Here are some examples of repetition in movie lines:

  • “Hey! I’m walking here! I’m walking here!” (Midnight Cowboy)
  • “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here.” (Taxi Driver)
  • “You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” (On the Waterfront)
  • “Bond. James Bond.” (James Bond films)
  • “Wax on. Wax off.” (The Karate Kid)
  • “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” (The Help)
  • “Stupid is as stupid does.” (Forrest Gump)
  • “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” (Back to the Future)
  • “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” (Fight Club)
  • “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order!” (And Justice for All)

Famous Examples of Repetition

Think you haven’t heard of any famous examples of repetition? Here are some instances of repetition in famous speeches, writings, and quotations:

(Video) Repetition || literary device repetition defined and explained with examples.

  • Ashes To Ashes, dust to dust (English Book of Common Prayer)
  • The sad truth is that the truth is sad. (Lemony Snicket)
  • The horror! The horror! (Heart of Darkness)
  • And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting (The Raven)
  • And that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth (Gettysburg Address)
  • O Captain! my Captain! (O Captain! My Captain!)
  • Think and wonder, wonder and think (Dr. Seuss)
  • Water, water everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)
  • Words, words, words (Hamlet)
  • Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. (Proverb)

Differences Between Repetition of Sounds

In addition to using repeating words and phrases as a literary device, writers may use repetition of sounds as well. Overall, the repetition of sound can provide rhythm, pacing, and musicality to a work of poetry or prose. These types of repeated sounds are consonance, assonance, and alliteration.

Consonance is the repetition of a consonant sound in a group of words, such as there is little butter in the bottle. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, such asthis lake takes the cake.Alliteration is the repetition of a sound in the initial letter of a group of words, such as selling sails is somewhat silly.

Though repetitions of sounds are also effective literary devices, in general, the literary term repetition refers to the intentional use of recurring words and phrases in poetry or prose. However, in a broad sense, repetition as a literary device includes repeating sounds through consonance, assonance, and alliteration as well.

Writing Repetition

Repetition, as a literary device, functions as a means of reinforcing a concept, thought, or idea for a reader by repeating certain words or phrases. Writers that utilize repetition call attention to what is being repeated. This can generate greater focus on a particular subject and intensify its meaning.

It’s essential that writers bear in mind that their audience may experience fatigue if repetition is overused. As a literary device, repetition should be used deliberately and not just for the sake of repeating a word or phrase. However, when used properly, repetition can be an influential device in writing.

(Video) repetition - figure of speech with examples

Here are some ways that writers benefit from incorporating repetition into their work:

Sense of Rhythm

Repetition of sounds, words, or phrases allows for a sense of rhythm in a literary work. This is particularly effective when it comes to poetry and speeches. Rhythm affects the pacing and musicality of wording and phrasing. Therefore, repetition creates a sense of rhythm that can change the experience a reader and/or listener has with a literary work.

Create Emphasis

Repeating a word or phrase in a work of poetry or prose calls attention to it on behalf of the reader. This creates emphasis by highlighting the importance of the word or phrase. Therefore, the reader is more likely to consider the meaning of the word or phrase in a deeper way. Additionally, such emphasis on a concept, a thought, or an idea can be persuasive on behalf of the reader by underscoring its significance.

Purpose of Repetition in Literature

As far as the purpose of repetition in literature is concerned, it has three specific functions that the writers and poets have in their minds when they use repetitions.

  1. The first one is the stress upon some point so that it could reach its intended audiences.
  2. The second is to create intended impacts on the audiences by repeating the same phrase such as “I have a dream” in the speech of the same title by Martin Luther King. This repetition also serves the purpose of persuading the audience or readers.
  3. The third is to use repetition for melody and rhythm. It happens mostly in poetry though some prose writers such as Charles Dickens have used repetitions in prose for rhythm.

Use of Repetition in Sentences

  1. I have talked to all and talked in full that they would have to do their work on time.
  2. Most of the time and I say most of the time which means the maximum time you should spend on your studies.
  3. Whether you take it literally or you take it seriously or whatever you take it non-seriously, it is necessary to stop driving at this moment.
  4. Sometimes birds fly away and fly away so fast and so suddenly that it surprises the people.
  5. Whether you leave this place or leave that place, the important point is you must leave right now.

Examples of Repetition in Literature

Repetition is a commonly used literary device. Here are some examples of repetition and how it adds to the value of well-known literary works:

(Video) What is Repetition | Explained in 2 min

Example 1:Macbeth (William Shakespeare)

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

In this Shakespearean soliloquy, Macbeth is lamenting the death of his wife and repeats the word “tomorrow” three times. Macbeth’s repetition of this word calls attention to the fact that his wife no longer has any tomorrow, and that the tomorrows Macbeth has remaining will be a repetition of life without her.

The rhythm established by the repetition of tomorrow also serves to highlight a sense of futility and mundanity in a word that typically connotes the expectation of change or something new. Instead, the repetition of the word renders it meaningless and without the promise of hope. Therefore, just as Macbeth has accumulated nothing in the play, his accumulation of tomorrows also represents nothing.

Example 2:A Dog Has Died (Pablo Neruda; translated by Alfred Yankauer)

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival

waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

(Video) Repetition?|Definition| Examples|Concept #literarydevices #repetition

In this poem, Neruda uses repetition of the word “heaven,” both as a place and a concept. This demonstrates the grief the poet feels for how death has separated him from the friendship of his dog. This is an interesting use of repetition as a literary device in that it is the separation of the poet from his dog through death that is emphasized, more than the dog’s actual death.

Neruda achieves this through the poet stating that he does not believe in a heaven for humans, but he does believe in a heaven for dogs. The fact that the poet will “never enter” this heaven for “dogdom” indicates his realization that the dog’s death means a permanent separation of their friendship. Through this repetition of heaven as a concept for dogs but not humans, the reader gains an even greater sense of the grief the poet must be experiencing. The image of the dog waiting for his human’s arrival in heaven is therefore even more heartbreaking.

The only way the poet can “join” his dog again is by dying and being buried in the same garden. However, this juxtaposition in burial is as meaningless as the “rusted old machine” next to them; it represents earthly decay rather than the promised afterlife of heaven and togetherness.

Example 3:The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (Carson McCullers)

But the hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes. The heart of a hurt child can shrink so that forever afterward it is hard and pitted as the seed of a peach. Or again, the heart of such a child may fester and swell until it is a misery to carry within the body, easily chafed and hurt by the most ordinary things.

In this passage, McCullers repeats the words “heart” and “child.” This repetition is an effective literary device in that it reinforces for the reader that the heart is both impressionable and vulnerable in children, just as a child is impressionable and vulnerable as well. By linking and repeating these words, McCullers provides clarity for readers that what is done to a child will affect their heart, and therefore affect their capacity for love and emotion for the remainder of their lives. Through repetition, McCullers conveys to the reader that the heart as an “organ” and a child are subject to the same pain and lasting consequences.

(Video) Writer's Toolkit - What is the effect of.. Repetition? Under 3mins

Synonyms of Repetition

There are several words that come very close to repetition in meanings such as reiteration, repeat, repeating, restatement, rephrasing, retelling, iteration, recital, recap, reprise, echo, echoing, copy, copying, and quoting.

Related posts:

  • Examples of Repetition in Poetry
  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow


Repetition - Examples and Definition of Repetition? ›

Repetition is when a single word or phrase is used multiple times in short succession for effect. It can help emphasise a point. For example, 'I have to practice my times tables over so I can learn them' vs 'I have to practice my times tables over and over and over again so I can learn them. '

What are the 5 examples of repetition? ›

Common Examples of Repetition
  • Time after time;
  • Heart-to-heart;
  • Hand in hand;
  • Get ready, get set, go;
  • Home sweet home;
  • It is what it is.

What is a good definition of repetition? ›

: the act or an instance of repeating or being repeated. : a motion or exercise (such as a push-up) that is repeated and usually counted. : mention, recital. repetitional. ˌre-pə-ˈtish-nəl.

What is an example of repetition in literature? ›

“As my grandfather went, arm over arm, his heart making sour little shudders against his ribs, he kept listening for a sound, the sound of the tiger, the sound of anything but his own feet and lungs.” We have an early repetition example with “arm over arm,” but the true repetition comes in the triple phrase at the end.

What is the definition of repetition in literature? ›

Repetition refers to the use of the same word or phrase multiple times and is a fundamental poetic technique.

What is a good sentence for repetition? ›

The repetition of the process brought the same results. Constant repetition makes it easier to learn how to spell a word. The small town with its repetition of nice homes made it a good place to live. The unusual language and repetition made the story seem unreal.

What is an example of famous repetition? ›

For example, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare used repetition when he said: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Oh, woeful, oh woeful, woeful, woeful day!

What is simple repetition of a word? ›

Anaphora is the repetition of a single word or phrase at the beginning of several sentences or clauses in a row. Anaphora helps to create a rhythm to the text, and helps to string together related ideas.

What are two types of repetition? ›

Poets love to use alliteration, anaphora and epistrophe — each a different form of repetition — in their poems. (Did you notice these literary devices in the previous three sentences?) Below are three brief lessons that explore three types of repetition: alliteration, anaphora and epistrophe.

What is a repetition for kids? ›

Repetition, repetition

Repeating words, a concept or a skill allows your child to form an understanding and even attempt to imitate it. Children may repeat new words back to you as they learn them and will learn letters and words by repeatedly seeing them written down.

What is an example of a repeating word in a sentence? ›

Repetition of Words. The last word of a clause or sentence is repeated as the first word of the next one. Example: "Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hatred; hatred leads to conflict; conflict leads to suffering." — Yoda, in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

What is an example of repetition in a movie? ›

Famous Repetition Examples in Cinema:

“You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?” - Taxi Driver (1976) “Wax on. Wax off.” - Karate Kid (1984)

What is an example of repetition in poetry? ›

Repetition is an important poetic technique that sees writers reuse words, phrases, images, or structures multiple times within a poem. E.g. An example of repetition is: "The old man walked down the street, down the street, down the street".

What is the repetition of a story? ›

Repetition can happen in a story in two different ways. Line-level repetition is when the same word, sound, or phrase is used to create emphatic effect. Structural repetition is when the same image, symbol, or literary device is repeated throughout the story to highlight its underlying themes.

What is the definition of repetition quizlet? ›

repetition. reiteration of a word, sound, phrase, or idea. Often used by orators and in poetry.

What is start of sentence repetition? ›

Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause. It comes from the Greek phrase "carrying up or back".

What are good examples of repetition in design? ›

Repetition is simply repeating a single element many times in a design. For example, you could draw a line horizontally and then draw several others next to it. Repetition can be useful in web and app design. For example, you'd expect the logo of a business to be repeated on every page and in the same place.

What is a repetition in a sentence structure? ›

In rhetoric, parallel syntax (also known as parallel construction, parallel structure, and parallelism) is a rhetorical device that consists of repetition among adjacent sentences or clauses. The repeated sentences or clauses provide emphasis to a central theme or idea the author is trying to convey.

What is it called when you repeat something over and over? ›

To reiterate is to do or say something over and over again, to repeat insistently: to reiterate a refusal, a demand.

What is the repetition of two words in a sentence? ›

In rhetoric, epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession, typically within the same sentence, for vehemence or emphasis. A closely related rhetorical device is diacope, which involves word repetition that is broken up by a single intervening word, or a small number of intervening words.

What can repetition also be called? ›

On this page you'll find 69 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to repetition, such as: litany, recurrence, reiteration, repeat, rhythm, and alliteration.

What is a pattern of repetition? ›

Repetition refers to one object or shape repeated; pattern is a combination of elements or shapes repeated in a recurring and regular arrangement; rhythm--is a combination of elements repeated, but with variations.

What is repetition in school? ›

Through repetition, a skill is practiced and rehearsed over time and gradually becomes easier. As the student improves, he or she does not need to think consciously about the skill, freeing up mental resources to learn new skills and concepts.

What is school repetition? ›

"Grade repetition" (sometimes referred to as ''grade retention") occurs when students are held in the same grade for an extra year rather than being promoted to a higher grade along with their age peers.

What is repetition in the classroom? ›

Repetition is something that classroom teachers routinely use to organize students into a cohort, to move from presentation to practice and to purse a response.

Why is repetition important? ›

When stimuli are learned by repetition, they are remembered better and retained for a longer time. Studies have shown that the brain forms new pathways when a task is repeated often, thereby optimizing the performance of the skill.

What is a repetition sentence examples for kids? ›

Common Examples of Repetition
  • Time after time;
  • Heart-to-heart;
  • Hand in hand;
  • Get ready, get set, go;
  • Home sweet home;
  • It is what it is.

What is an example of repetition in poetry kids? ›

For example, you might start all of many of the lines of a poem with the same words, such as “I'll never” or “I can't wait for.” Or you might repeat a single line more than once to emphasize the point, as in the ending of Robert Frost's poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” You can even repeat an entire stanza ...

What are 10 examples of repetition? ›

Common Examples of Repetition
  • Time after time.
  • Heart to heart.
  • Boys will be boys.
  • Hand in hand.
  • Get ready; get set; go.
  • Hour to hour.
  • Sorry, not sorry.
  • Over and over.

What is repetition in art examples easy? ›

Repetition is simply repeating a single element many times in a design. For example, you could draw a line horizontally and then draw several others next to it. Repetition can be useful in web and app design. For example, you'd expect the logo of a business to be repeated on every page and in the same place.

What is an example of repetition and alliteration? ›

The most common repetition figures of speech are: Alliteration: The repetition of the same sound in a group of words, such as the “b” sound in: “Bob brought the box of bricks to the basement.” The repeating sound must occur either in the first letter of each word, or in the stressed syllables of those words.

What is an example of repetition structure? ›

Examples of such repetition include continual checking of user data entries until an acceptable entry, such as a valid password, is made; counting and accumulating running totals; and recurring acceptance of input data and recalculation of output values that only stop upon entry of a designated value.

What is the repetition of words called? ›

Anaphora is the repetition of words or phrases in a group of sentences, clauses, or poetic lines.

What are the types of repetition statements? ›

Repetition Statements
  • while loops.
  • do-while loops.
  • for loops.

What are examples of repetition in pictures? ›

For instance, a line of trees stretching across the frame will repeat the same shape, over and over again. An apple still life will repeat the same fruit color and shape all throughout the arrangement. An autumn scenic will repeat the same orange and red colors no matter where you look. That's repetition.

What is an example of repetition painting? ›

In the painting 'The Milkmaid' by Vermeer, the bright blue colour of the apron is repeated in the table cloth. This ties the two focal points in the piece together and creates a viewing rhythm. The repetition of stars in the night sky in 'Starry Night over the Rhone' creates rhythm, balance and an organic pattern.

What is repetition in art for kids? ›

Repetition: the repeated use of particular elements of visual arts to create a pattern, movement, rhythm, or unity .


1. Examples of Repetition in Poetry
2. Repetition vs Alliteration | Figure of Speech | Part 3
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3. Definition of repetition
(Corey Feindt STAT)
4. Spaced repetition in learning theory
(Osmosis from Elsevier)
5. Repetition
(Ashley White)
6. Raised by Women: Repetition Examples and Definition - Literary Devices
(Kyara Mcgee)


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