Asyndeton

What is Asyndeton?

Asyndeton is a writing style where conjunctions are omitted in a series of words. phrases or clauses. It is used to shorten a sentence and focus on its meaning. For example, Julius Caesar leaving out the word "and" between the sentences "I came. I saw. I conquered."

Types of Asyndeton

Asyndeton examples may be classified into two types

A. One type of asyndeton is used between words, phrases and a sentence.

  • For example: “Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
    Shrunk to this little measure?”
    1. (Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare)

    B. Second type is used between sentences or clauses.

  • For example: Without looking, without making a sound, without talking
    1. (Oedipus at Colonus by Sophecles)

    Examples of Asyndeton from Literature

    Example #1

    IAGO
    Call up her father.
    Rouse him. Make after him, Poison his delight,
    Proclaim him in the streets. Incense her kinsmen,
    And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,

      (Othello by William Shakespeare)

    In this extract, Shakespeare has eliminated conjunctions deliberately. There is shortage of “and, for, or, but” which are required to join the sentences. Due to this, the words have been emphasized and feelings of anger and jealousy are articulated explicitly.

    Example #2

    “Is whispering nothing?
    Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
    Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career
    Of laughter with a sigh? (a note infallible
    Of breaking honesty!) horsing foot on foot?…”

      (The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare)

    In this excerpt, we can observe both types of asyndeton are employed. The first type (between the words) such as “from” is removed between the words “leaning” and “cheek” and similarly the second type (between the sentences) with the sentences not being joined by conjunctions.

    Musical Example

    Nicki Minaj - Fly ft. Rihanna

    Activity!

    Give an example of both types of asyndeton.