Hendiadis

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Hendi’adis, n. a using of two nouns in place of an adjective and a noun.

Word in the Wild: Ludwig’s assertion that Laila never used hendiadis in her speeches was a presumption and an embarrassment.

Okay, so that sample sentence doesn’t do a lot to help explain what hendiadis means, does it? But it does contain an example of this figure of speech. Instead of describing Ludwig’s mistake as an embarrassing presumption, I described it as a presumption and an embarrassment, and that’s all there is to using hendiadis.

An especially famous example of this figure of speech can be found in Shakespeare’s Macbeth when Macbeth says “It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing.” He could have said “full of furious sound” but by using this figure of speech his words are more dramatic.

Note: Though it’s spelled hendiadis in my Vest-Pocket Dictionary, this word is typically spelled hendiadys.

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather December 10, 2009 at 6:34 pm

I’m glad you like it. I also find it interesting to see how the changes and subtleties of hendiadis can alter meaning. And I hope to see at least one hendiadis in your next blog entry.

Stephanie December 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Cool! I like that one. It adds drama, but it also subtly changes the meaning of a sentence.

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