Tmesis Examples


Tmesis literally means "to cut." In writing and language, it occurs when a writer or speaker inserts a word into the middle of another word or two words that create a common phrase.

Examples of Tmesis:

Turn completely off ("turn off" is a common phrasal verb; "completely" is inserted)

Abso-freaking-lutely! ("freaking" is inserted into "absolutely")

A-whole-nother ("whole" inserted into "another")

Un-freaking-believable ("freaking" inserted into "unbelievable")

Examples of Tmesis in Literature

From Romeo and Juliet:

This is not Romeo; he is some other where.

Also from Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida:

That man—how dearly ever departed.

Shakespeare also uses tmesis in Richard II:

If on the first, how heinous e'er it be,

To win thy after-love I pardon thee.

From Donne's Hymn to Christ:

Whatseasoever swallow me, that flood

Shall be to me an emblem of thy blood.

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