Polysyndeton is the use of several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some could otherwise be omitted (as in "he ran and jumped and laughed for joy"). The word polysyndeton comes from the Greek "poly-", meaning "many," and "syndeton", meaning "bound together with".[1] It is a stylistic scheme used to achieve a variety of effects: it can increase the rhythm of prose, speed or slow its pace, convey solemnity or even ecstasy and childlike exuberance. Another common use of polysyndeton is to create a sense of being overwhelmed, or in fact directly overwhelm the audience by using conjunctions, rather than commas, leaving little room for a reader to breathe.[2][3]

In grammar, a polysyndetic coordination is a coordination in which all conjuncts are linked by coordinating conjunctions (usually and, but, or, nor in English).

In the King James Bible

Polysyndeton is used extensively in the King James Version of the Bible. For example:

In Shakespeare

Shakespeare is known for using various rhetorical devices in his works, including polysyndeton.

Modern usage

Writers of modern times have also used the scheme:

Throughout The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy, for example:

In film


It can be contrasted with asyndeton, which is a coordination containing no conjunctions often manipulating the rhythm of a passage in the attempt to make a thought more memorable, and syndeton, which is a coordination with one conjunction.

Asyndeton examples include:

Syndeton examples include:


  1. Burton, Gideon. "Polysyndeton". Rhetoric.byu.edu. Silva Rhetoricae. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  2. Corbett, Edward P.J., Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. Oxford University, New York, 1971
  3. Smyth, Herbert Weir (1920). Greek Grammar. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. p. 682. ISBN 0-674-36250-0.
  4. Bryant, Kenzie. "Polysyndeton". Prezi. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  5. Gabriel, Jacob. "Asyndeton and Polysyndeton". Prezi. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  6. Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses. New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 1993, p 122.
  7. 1 2 "A Glossary of Rhetorical Terms with Examples". Modern & Classical Languages, Literatures & Culture. University of Kentucky. Retrieved 17 September 2013.

    External links

    Look up polysyndeton in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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