What is Repetition?

Repetition is a literary device that repeats the same words or phrases a few times to make an idea perfect and more memorable. As a rhetorical device, it could be a word, a phrase, or a full sentence, or a poetical line repeated to emphasize its significance in the entire text.

Repetition is when words or phrases are repeated in a literary work. Repetition is often used in poetry or song, and it is used to create rhythm and bring attention to an idea. Repetition is also often used in speech, as a rhetorical device to bring attention to an idea. Repetition can be used for emphasis or reinforcement of a key idea.

Some additional points about repetition:
  • Figures of speech that employ repetition generally repeat single words or short phrases, but some can involve the repetition of sounds while others might involve the repetition of entire sentences.
  • Repeating information has been scientifically shown to increase the probability of changing people's minds. The persuasive power of repetition is one of the reasons it is so common.
Repetition of a word, sound, phrase, syllable, stanza, line, or metrical pattern is a basic combining device in all poetry. It may emphasize, supplement, enhance or even substitute for the meter, the other chief controlling factor in the arrangement of words into poetry.

Repetition is the repeating of a word or phrase. Repetition is a literary device in which a word or phrase is repeated two or more times.  It is a common rhetorical device used to add importance and stress in writing and speech. Repetition is widely used in both poetry and prose; throughout all genres and forms of literature and oral tradition. 

Example of Repetition

Read the short passage below:

The big stairs led up to a big house with a big front door. Breathe, breathe, breathe, I told myself. I only have to stay for one second, be afraid for one second, not scream for one second. I can do it. I can win the bet. I can prove I’m brave.

The passage above uses several different styles of repetition to show the narrator’s anxiety. By repeating what the character thinks and sees, the author makes the situation more interesting.

Short Examples of Repetition in Poetry

  • If you think you can do it, you can do it.
  • The president said, “Work, work, and work,” are the keys to success.
  • The team captain reiterated his resolve to win the match, win the tournament, and win the hearts of his people.
  • The bird said, “I don’t sing because I am happy, I am happy because I sing.”
  • The boss repeated his routine advice, “Don’t come late, don’t leave early, and don’t delay your work.”
  • The boy was a good footballer because his father was a  footballer, and his grandfather was a  footballer.
  • The boy was terrified when he was taken to the hospital; he shuddered at the least sound, and he shuddered at the least breath of air into the room.
  • The politician declared, “We will fight come what may, we will fight on all fronts, we will fight for a thousand years.”
  • The orator said, “Good morning to the old, good morning to the young, good morning to each and every one present.”
  • The students chanted to raise the spirits of their team during the match, “We will win, we will win.
  • The refugees were crossing into the neighbouring country when they saw blood all around blood on the passageways, blood on the fields, blood on the soles of their shoes. 
  • The judge commanded, stamping his mallet on the table, “Order in the court, order in the court.”
  • When they came out of the cinema hall they all agreed, the film was a waste of money, it was a waste of time and energy. 
  • The general said to his army, “Men — You must fight for the life of your people, your family, and your country.”
  • The new boss says that, in this institute, the wrong person was appointed for the wrong job, following the wrong procedure, but this will not happen again.

Importance of Repetition

Repetition is an important literary device as it allows a writer to emphasize things chosen to be significant. It tells the audience that the words used are significant enough to be repeated, and lets them know when to pay special attention to the language. Furthermore, repetition has historically been an important method for oral tradition, as it helped storytellers remember details and lines that may have otherwise been difficult to repeat.