aposiopesis aposiopesis
 a-pos-i-o-pee’-sis from Gk. aposiopao “to be silent after speaking, observe a deliberate silence”
praecisio, reticentia, obticentia, interruptio
figure of silence

Breaking off suddenly in the middle of speaking, usually to portray being overcome with emotion.
  In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Antony interrupts his own speech at Caesar's funeral:
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me,
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
—Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 3.2.104-107
Related Figures

  Sources: Ad Herennium 4.30.41 ("praecisio"); Quintilian 9.2.54-55; Aquil. 5 ("aposiopesis," "reticentia"); Susenbrotus (1540) 25 ("aposiopesis," "reticentia," "praecisio," "obticentia," "interruptio") ; Peacham (1577) E4r, N1v; Putt. (1589) 178 ("aposiopesis," "figure of silence"); Day 1599 81

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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