What Is Repetition? Definition & 15+ Examples

Ever wondered why that catchy tune is on repeat in your head or why stirring speeches often echo the same phrases? That’s the magic of repetition, a simple yet powerful tool weaving through music, language, and even our minds.

Repetition, in its simplest form, is the act of repeating something, be it a word, phrase, or motif. This universal pattern dances everywhere, from our favorite songs and grand artworks to the ways we learn and remember.

In this article, we will delve into the concept of repetition, unravel its definition, and explore intriguing examples from our everyday life. Prepare to see the world through a new lens!

Table of Contents

What Is Repetition?

Repetition, as a literary tool, involves echoing a word, phrase, or an entire sentence to stress its importance or generate a desired impact. It’s frequently utilized in various writing styles, including poetry and prose.

The author’s intent behind repetitions is often to spotlight a specific theme or idea.

Types of Repetition

There are several types of repetition that can be used effectively in writing:


Anaphora refers to the practice of starting consecutive clauses or sentences with the same word or phrase.

This powerful rhetorical technique enhances focus and unity and is often found in speeches, poetry, and prose to strengthen a concept.


This is when consonant sounds are repeated at the beginning of nearby words. It’s a popular device in poetry, literature, and even advertising, used to create enjoyable rhythms and connect words with similar connotations.


Here, non-rhyming words close together share the same vowel sounds. Assonance introduces a melody into the text, contributing to the rhythm and mood by forming internal rhymes within phrases or sentences.


This is a rhetorical strategy where two or more clauses are arranged in a mirrored or reversed structure for an artistic effect.

It is frequently used for emphasis or to highlight opposites, creating a “criss-cross” pattern in the sentence structure.


Repeating words or phrases at the end of successive clauses or sentences.

Like anaphora, it’s a rhetorical device that is used to create emphasis, but with the repetition occurring at the clause or sentence’s end, it leaves a strong, lingering impression.


Epistrophe refers to the repetition of certain words or phrases after multiple sentences. Like epiphora, it amplifies the final idea, etching a lasting impact on the audience’s mind.


Epizeuxis is the act of saying the same word or sentence back to back, generally for emphasis. It creates a dramatic atmosphere and significantly spotlights the reiterated word or phrase.


Mesodiplosis is characterized by the recurrence of a word or sentence in the middle of multiple sentences. It links ideas together, enhancing the text’s harmony and setting a rhythmic pattern.


Symploce is the blend of anaphora and epiphora, resulting in the recurrence of words or sentences at the start and end of consecutive sentences.

This intricate method reinforces rhythms and emphasizes points from various aspects.

Purpose of Repetition

Repetition serves various purposes in writing, including:

It Emphasizes an Idea

Repeating words or phrases can emphasize a specific point, making it more memorable for the reader.

It Provides Clarity

In some cases, repetition can clarify a writer’s meaning or intent, especially when complex ideas are being conveyed.

It Creates Rhythm and Musicality

Repetition also adds rhythm and musicality to a text, making it more engaging and pleasant to read. Literary works, such as poetry and prose, use repetition to create a sense of rhythm and beauty in their writing.

Similarly, songwriters and rappers use repetitive clauses and rhymes to create catchy tunes that leave a lasting impression on their audience.

It Reinforces an Idea

Repeated words or phrases can reinforce a central theme or idea, helping to strengthen the overall message of a piece of writing.

Example: Using repetition can be found in persuasive writing, such as speeches. When trying to persuade an audience, a speaker may use repetition to reinforce an important point, making it more memorable and convincing.

It Elicits Emotion

In addition to reinforcing ideas and creating rhythm, repetition can also elicit emotions from readers. By repeating specific words or phrases, authors have the power to evoke a variety of feelings, such as joy, sadness, anger, or nostalgia.

This emotional connection can help readers become more invested in the narrative and relate to the characters or themes presented in the text.

Did You Know? Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous I Have a Dream speech used the phrase "I have a dream" to emphasize his vision for equality.

Repetition in Literature

The three common types of repetition are:

  • Anaphora
  • Epiphora
  • Chiasmus

Examples in Poetry


In Walt Whitman’s poem I Hear America Singing, he repeatedly uses the phrase “I hear” at the beginning of several lines:

"I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
I hear those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
I hear the carpenter singing…"


An example of an epiphora can be found in T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men:

"Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow"


A well-known example comes from John Keats’s Endymion:

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty."

Examples in Prose

In prose, writers also make use of repetition for similar purposes:

  • Creating rhythm
  • Emphasis
  • Emotional impact


In Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, the opening sentence employs anaphora:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…"


Epiphora is demonstrated in the conclusion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, with the repeated phrase “borne back”:

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."


Chiasmus can be illustrated through Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray:

"I choose my friends for their looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects."

Authors and speakers utilize these techniques to enrich their works, making them more engaging and memorable for readers.

Employing repetition helps bring focus to essential themes and ideas, captivating the audience with a confident, knowledgeable, and clear writing style.

Examples of Repetition in Speeches


Martin Luther King’s famous speech includes the phrase:

"Little black boys and black girls." 

This repetition creates emphasis, making the phrase more memorable.


Charles Dickens utilized assonance in his opening line from A Tale of Two Cities:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." 

Assonance can enhance the musicality of speech, making it more appealing to the audience.


A famous example can be found in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, where the consonant sound “r” is repeated throughout the poem:

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary."


In William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear exclaims:

"O, O, O, O!" 

This repetition communicates the character’s distress and shock.


Winston Churchill’s famous speech We Shall Fight on the Beaches provides an example:

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets." 

The repetition of “we shall fight” strengthens the resolve and determination of the audience.


In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens uses this technique:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness." 

Here, the words “it was” and “times” are repeated, creating a rhythmic effect and highlighting the contrasts.


This technique can be seen in Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man:

"Know then thyself, presume not God to scan. The proper study of mankind is Man." 

The repetition of Man” emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and understanding humanity.

Pro Tip: "Want to make your speeches more impactful? Use repetition to emphasize your key points!"

Repetition in Daily Life

Examples in Conversation

Repetition is common in daily conversations, as it helps emphasize a point or clarify a message.

Example: Someone might say, “I need you to be careful, very careful” to stress the importance of being cautious.

Additionally, repetition can be used in disagreements to convey strong feelings — when a person might say:

"It's not fair, not fair at all!"

Examples in Children’s Songs

Children’s songs often feature repetitive lyrics or melodies, making them easy to remember and enjoyable for young minds.

Example: A good one is Old MacDonald Had a Farm, where each verse repeats the melody and animal sounds. Repetition in children’s songs not only makes them catchy but also aids in language development and memory retention.

Examples in Advertising

Repetition is a powerful tool in advertising, as it makes brands and slogans memorable.

Example: Repeating a jingle or catchphrase helps create recognition and familiarity among consumers. Some popular ones include:

  • McDonald’s I’m Lovin’ It
  • Nike’s Just Do It

These short, repetitive phrases stick in the minds of consumers, encouraging brand loyalty and prompting enthusiasm for the product.

Repetition in Learning and Psychology

It Reinforces Neural Pathways

Repetition is a crucial tool in learning and psychology. It helps our brains form habits and retain information more effectively.

By repeating actions or information, we reinforce neural pathways, leading to improved recall and performance.

Example: The use of flashcards. Students repeatedly review the cards to memorize facts and concepts.

This tactic relies on a technique called spaced repetition, which involves studying material at increasingly spaced intervals, enhancing long-term retention.

It Forms Habits

In psychology, repetition is essential for forming habits.

Example: A straightforward one is the habit of brushing teeth every day. By repeating the action daily, it becomes a routine behavior and feels unnatural when skipped.

It Develops Skills

Repetition also aids in skill development.

Example: Athletes practice specific moves repetitively to establish muscle memory, allowing them to execute the actions with ease and precision during competitions.

Tips to Harness Repetition for Effective Learning

  1. Use flashcards and spaced repetition for memorizing facts and concepts.
  2. Establish daily routines to create healthy habits.
  3. Practice skills regularly to improve performance and muscle memory.
Pro Tip: Studying for an exam? Remember, repetition is a surefire strategy for imprinting information onto your long-term memory!

Repetition in Practice and Exercise

Exercise Routines

Repetition plays a significant role in exercise routines. When people perform a set amount of repetitions for an exercise, they reinforce muscle memory and build strength.

Example: If a person does three sets of ten push-ups, they are practicing the push-up movement 30 times in total, leading to improved muscular endurance and technique.

Skill Development

In skill development, repetition serves as a crucial tool for refining abilities and reducing errors.

When an individual practices a skill repeatedly, they become more proficient and efficient in performing the task.

Example: A factory worker who repeats a specific assembly process hundreds of times will eventually master the technique. This repeated practice also results in fewer mistakes, ultimately increasing productivity.


Repetition is equally important in the learning process, as it aids in memory retention and understanding of new information.

Example: Students often use repetitive strategies, such as flashcards, to reinforce the material they have learned. By repeatedly reviewing the content, they can better recall information when needed, such as during an exam.

Additionally, practicing a new skill or concept in different contexts allows learners to gain a deeper understanding and make connections between various topics.

Repetition in Dance

Repetition is a fundamental element in dance, serving as a means to:

  • Create structure.
  • Develop movement themes.
  • Enhance the viewer’s understanding of the choreography.

Movements, Patterns, and Motifs

It involves the intentional repeating of dance moves, patterns, or motifs during a performance. This powerful tool allows choreographers to communicate their artistic visions effectively and showcase the dancers’ skills.

Repetition in Ballet

In classical ballet, repetition is often employed through the use of variations and ensembles.

  • Variations are solo pieces that repeat specific steps or forms, allowing the dancer to demonstrate their technical mastery and artistic interpretation.
  • Ensembles feature multiple dancers performing repetitive phrases in unison or canon, emphasizing the harmony and coordination of the group.

Repetition in Contemporary Dance

Contemporary dance frequently utilizes repetition as a means of establishing movement motifs.

A movement motif is a recurring series of movements that hold significance within the choreography. Its repetition helps form a cohesive narrative or thematic base, allowing the audience to recognize and connect with the piece.

By altering tempo, dynamics, and spatial dimensions, choreographers can evoke a range of emotions and create unique storytelling experiences.

Repetition in Dance Practice

In addition to building structure, repetition also plays a crucial role in learning and retaining dance techniques.

During practice sessions, dancers frequently repeat steps and combinations in order to develop muscle memory and refine their movements.

The continuous process of repetition allows performers to perfect their techniques, ensuring that they can execute even the most complex choreography with precision and confidence.

Repetition in Music

Repetition in music serves as a way to establish rhythm, create pattern, and build tension in a piece. It plays a vital role in engaging the listener’s attention and provides a sense of familiarity.

The Use of Motifs

One common example of repetition in music is the use of motifs. A motif is a short musical phrase or pattern that reoccurs throughout a piece.

By repeating this motif, the composer can create a sense of unity and coherence within the composition.

Did You Know? Queen's iconic song "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a great example of using repetition in music, but with a twist. 

The line "nothing really matters" is repeated several times towards the end of the song, each time with a different emotional tone — from despair to acceptance, adding depth and complexity to the narrative. Fascinating, isn't it?

The Use of Rhythmic Patterns

Another aspect of repetition in music is the use of recurring rhythmic patterns. Drumbeats, bass lines, and other rhythmic elements often feature repeating patterns to give the music a sense of movement and stability.

Larger Musical Structures

Repetition can also be found in the larger structures of a musical composition.

Example: The verse-chorus form, which is prevalent in popular music, relies on the repetition of sections to create a predictable and accessible structure for the listener.

Creating Contrast and Emphasis

In some instances, repetition can be used to create contrast or emphasize a particular element of the music.

By deliberately repeating specific musical ideas, composers can draw attention to the unique qualities of these ideas and set them apart from the rest of the piece.

Striking a Balance: Repetition and Variation

It is important to find a balance between repetition and variation in music. Too much repetition may cause the piece to feel monotonous, while too little can result in a lack of cohesion and clarity.

Composers often incorporate subtle changes in repeated sections to maintain interest and keep listeners engaged.

Pro Tip: Writing a song? Remember, repetition can be your best friend in creating those earworms that listeners can't get enough of!

Repetition in Art

Repetition is a technique used in art to create balance and unity. Artists utilize this strategy to emphasize specific elements, leading the viewer’s eyes through the composition.

There are several ways an artist can employ repetition:

Lines and Shapes

One method is the use of recurring lines or shapes. These patterns can establish a sense of rhythm and order within a piece.

Such repetition can be observed in M.C. Escher’s tessellated works, where interlocking figures fit together like puzzle pieces.

Color Schemes

Another example of repetition in art is through color schemes. Monochromatic artworks use various shades of a single color to create depth and visual interest.

Example: “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh is an instance where repetition of color and swirling brushstrokes contribute to a harmonious, expressive scene.

Arrangement of Elements

Repetition can also be found in the arrangement of elements within a composition.

Example: Each figure in “Dance” by Henri Matisse conveys a sense of movement through the repetitive positioning of their stances. The continuity created by this repetition leads our eyes around the artwork.

Tips for Using Repetition in Your Own Art

  1. Find a central theme or motif to repeat throughout the piece.
  2. Variations can help to maintain interest and prevent monotony.
  3. Experiment with different mediums, techniques, and scales.

Other Forms of Repetition


Anadiplosis is a form of repetition where the last word of one clause or sentence is repeated at the beginning of the next clause or sentence. This technique creates a sense of continuity and emphasis.

Example: F. Scott Fitzgerald uses anadiplosis in The Great Gatsby:

"She was the first 'nice' girl he had ever known. In various unrevealed capacities, he had come in contact with such people but always with indiscernible barbed wire between."


Antimetabole involves the repetition of words or phrases in reverse order to create contrast or highlight a particular point.

Example: This can be found in John F. Kennedy’s famous quote:

"Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."


Diacope is the repetition of a word or phrase with intervening words between them. This technique draws attention to a particular idea or theme.

Example: In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the phrase “There’s no place like home” is an example of diacope.


Epanalepsis involves repeating the initial word or phrase of a clause or sentence at the end of that same clause or sentence. This form of repetition adds emphasis and balance to a statement.


"A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams."


Polyptoton is the repetition of words derived from the same root in different forms or cases. This technique can emphasize specific aspects of a concept or idea.

Example: In the phrase “With eager feeding, food doth choke the feeder,” the words “feeding” and “food” are derived from the same root and create a polyptoton.


Ploce is a type of repetition where a word or phrase is repeated multiple times for emphasis or to elaborate on its meaning. This technique can be used for stylistic effect or to draw attention to a specific idea.

Example: Seen in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth:

"Blood will have blood."

Potential Pitfalls of Repetition

Repetition Fatigue

Repetition fatigue occurs when a reader becomes tired of seeing the same word, phrase, or structure repeatedly in a piece of writing. It can lead to the reader losing interest in the content.

Pro Tip: To prevent repetition fatigue, writers should consider using synonyms or rephrasing sentences.

Repetitive Writing Style

A repetitive writing style can make a piece feel monotonous and dull. In addition to varying vocabulary and sentence structure, writers can use different sentence lengths and types to create a more engaging rhythm.

Furthermore, breaking up long paragraphs with bullet points or tables can improve readability.


Repetition can be an effective way to emphasize a point. However, excessive repetition can make a piece seem redundant.

Writers should strike a balance between emphasizing key points and providing new information to keep the reader engaged.


Overusing repetition in a piece of writing can lead to a lack of clarity. Readers may become confused about the author’s intended meaning if repetition is used without a clear purpose.

Writers should ensure that repetition is used intentionally and effectively to avoid negatively impacting the reader’s understanding.

Pro Tip: Using repetition in your work? Beware of overuse — too much repetition can lead to boredom or desensitization.

To put it simply, refer to the table below:

FatigueReaders get tired of seeing the same word or phrase.Use synonyms or rephrase sentences.
MonotonyWriting feels dull due to repeated style.Vary sentence structure, length, and break up paragraphs.
Over-EmphasisToo much repetition makes content redundant.Balance emphasizing points with new information.
OveruseRepetition without clear purpose confuses readers.Use repetition intentionally and effectively.
Did You Know? Excessive repetition can cause the "Lag" or "Spacing Effect" where too much repetition in a short timeframe leads to poor absorption of information. Optimal learning occurs when repetitions are spread out, allowing your brain some rest!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does repetition contribute to language learning?

Yes, it does. Repeating vocabulary and sentence structures helps language learners to internalize and recall them. Remember the times when you repeated a foreign phrase till it started sounding familiar?

Is there a difference between repetition and redundancy?

Good question! While they seem similar, redundancy is unnecessary repetition and often adds nothing new. Repetition, on the other hand, emphasizes an idea, strengthening its impact.


So, repetition, far from just being about repeating things, turns out to be a vital part of our daily lives, shaping our music, language, and learning.

Next time you spot a repeated phrase, a song chorus, or pattern, remember the magic of repetition at work. It’s fascinating how doing, saying, or seeing something over and over can have such a powerful impact, isn’t it?

With repetition, the ordinary can become extraordinary!

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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant. When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.