Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Word of the Day: Ploce

One thing I've noticed while editing is that I tend to repeat words. And not in a good way.

(For instance, in two consecutive paragraphs, I used the word summer FOUR times. Four. Whoa, Nelly.)  I have a feeling this happens with most writers. In first drafts, it really doesn't matter - as long as you catch yourself and edit them out.

But IS there a good way? Can word repetition ever be a good thing?

Why, yes, there is/it can. And, in fact, the point of today's post is to introduce you (or just refresh your memory in some cases) to a word I've recently added to my lexicon:

Ploce. (Rhymes with glow-see) - It's a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is repeated for emphasis.  It's a technique used when a writer wants to drive a point home.

It's one of my favorite things to read, when done correctly. I've always loved this - but I never knew that there was a name for it. Now I do! (And so do you!)

Thank goodness for my word-a-day e-mails...

Here are some examples of ploce:
"Make war upon themselves - brother to brother / Blood to blood, self against self." (Richard III, Shakespeare)

"If it wasn't in Vogue, it wasn't in vogue." (promotional slogan for Vogue magazine)
"And gentle sleep the sleep of death..." (Thel, William Blake)
"The future is no place to place your better days." (Dave Matthews, "Cry Freedom") 

"Rose is a rose is a rose." (Line of poetry written in Paris by Gertrude Stein, often described as meaning things are what they are...)
"It wasn't a date date... We just got coffee." (A friend of mine when trying to deny that she's into the boy she's into... oops, I just gave another example with my example! Oh and I did it AGAIN! haha)

Okay that's all for today! My goal is to get back to writing a post 5 days a week... Starting now!

♥ me


  1. Wow! I've never heard of ploce before. This was a really interesting post, Sara. I learned something new. :)

  2. Nice reminder, good lady. I'm always on the lookout for unnecessary repetition in my own work.

    I'm reminded of Faulkner's "Barn Burning," where the father strikes the boy several times, and each time "without heat." Also, Faulkner points out many times how the father's steps seem heavier than they should be. The repetition reinforces things, highlights them, creates a large arrow pointing to the important characteristics and moments.

    And, I confess, I didn't know the word "ploce." Thanks for educating me this morning!

  3. Glad you guys learned a new word too!! I just thought it was so interesting when it arrived as the word of the day in my e-mail. :-)

    And Simon - I love the visual of creating a large arrow pointing to the characteristics - very apt description!

  4. Nice post. I like ploce, when done right it sounds all lyrical and lovely. Most of my repetition, sadly, is the plain old ordinary kind, which is just stinky.

  5. I love learning something new. Thank you for sharing this, Sara. Now I know the term for something that I have done before. But I'm like Diana, too. Some of my repeated words should be changed:)

  6. We have a whole list of words that we use over and over and over again. It's not pretty.

  7. I've never heard of this before, but I am so guilty of repeating words in the same paragraph by accident. Now I have a label for it!

  8. Thanks for the new word! My students are going to like that one tomorrow :)


Yay! I love when you have things to add :)