paralipsis /pærəˈlɪpsɪs/

Ignore This Text

Ignore This Text

“It would be unfair to assume that my opponent’s past sexual infidelities will affect his ability to be a Senator.”

“My recent award of Humanitarian of the Year should not influence what you think of me.”

Paralipsis is a rhetorical device used by a speaker to bring attention to something by professing to be ignoring it. The word comes from the Greek παραλείπειν, which means to pass by or leave to one side. So when you say “It’s not important that my IQ was measured at 170…” you are pretending to “pass by” the fact, but you are, clearly, drawing attention to your intelligence.

The variants paraleipsis and paralepsis can sometimes be seen, with the former being more likely outside the US. Of course, “more likely” is a relative term; a quick Google search only beings up only 13,300 (as of today) examples of paralipsis, which is a very small number when you consider that sesquipedalian scores almost 10 times as many hits.

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1 Comment

Filed under Etymology

One response to “paralipsis /pærəˈlɪpsɪs/

  1. Pingback: pedantic /pɪˈdæntɪk/ « The Etyman™ Language Blog

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