What Is Commoratio? (Deliberate Repetition)

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Commoratio

Commoratio is deliberately repeating an idea back to back, but in different words. (Commoratio is also known as synonymia and communio.)

commoratio examples

Examples of Commoratio

Here are some well-known examples of commoratio:
  • "It's not pinin'. It's passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! It's popped the twig! It's shuffled off this mortal coil! It's run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot!"
  • (Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch)
  • "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.
  • (From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)

Other Types of Repetition

There are three main types of repetition:
  • Anaphora Anaphora is repetition at the start of neighboring clauses. For example:
    • It rained on his lousy tombstone, and it rained on the grass on his stomach. It rained all over the place.
  • Epiphora. Epiphora is repetition at the end of neighboring clauses. For example:
    • She's safe, just like I promised. She's all set to marry Norrington, just like she promised. And you get to die for her, just like you promised.
  • Commoratio. Commoratio is repetition of the same idea in neighboring clauses, using different words.

More Examples of Commoratio

Here is another example of commoratio. This example also includes anaphora (repetition at the start of neighboring clauses).
  • "At this moment of her diving, as she is suspended in mid-jackknife, nothing happens on the East End of Long Island. Not a single nail is nailed. Not a single hedge is trimmed. Not a single bottle of Château Whatanamazingwine is sold. Not one compliment is paid to a tomato or an ear of corn or a peach. No one asks where the potato fields have gone. Likewise the duck farms. No Filipino housekeeper is yelled at for failing to position the fruit forks correctly. No year-round resident is pushed aside at a farmer's market. No one asks anyone else to a small dinner just for close friends or wishes there were more time to spend reading quietly on the beach away from all the big parties. No one gives kudos. Or draws raves. No one embarks on an exciting new phase of his life, or enters a third act of his life, or comments that life is a journey. No one plans a benefit dance for a fatal disease. No one lowers his voice to say 'Jew." "Nothing moves. Nothing makes a sound. The universe lies in respectful silence as sex and commerce find their and apogee in Kathy Polite and her morning swim. For one brief moment in this day for what certainly will be the only such moment, I am at peace--all bitterness relieved, all burdens lifted from me. The wind kicks up. I bless her unaware." (from Lapham Rising by Roger Rosenblatt)
President Donald Trump routinely uses commoratio when he speaks publicly:
  • "That's wrong. They were wrong. It's The New York Times. They’re always wrong. They were wrong." (President Trump about the New York Times)
  • "If you go back to the swine flu, it was nothing like this [corona virus]. They didn't do testing like this, and actually they lost approximately 14,000 people, and they didn't do the testing. They started thinking about testing when it was far too late." (President Trump comparing swine flu and corona virus)

Why Should I Care about Commoratio?

Deliberate repetition is common in verse (poetry and song). It is less common in business writing, but repeating words or ideas in a business document can be impactful. Used sparingly, deliberate repetition such as commoratio is useful for emphasis or to make your message more memorable. It can also portray you as confident.

Here is an example of how commoratio might appear in business correspondence:
  • We have considered your solution and are impressed by its practicality. It looks very viable. Very viable indeed.
As with all such rhetorical devices and creative techniques, there are also a few dangers. If you want to spice up your writing with deliberate repetition, you must avoid:
  • Over-cooking. Over-cooking is when you make your point so strongly that your readers grow suspicious and start questioning it.
    • "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." (from Hamlet by William Shakespeare)
  • Redundancy. Redundancy is when you waste your readers' time by telling them what you've just told them and this overrides the "spice" you'd sought with the repetition.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What is anaphora? What is epiphora? Glossary of grammatical terms