How to Write a Polyptoton
In order to create polyptoton,
- Pick a root word to be emphasized.
- Repeat that root word in a variety of forms.
For instance, imagine that you want to express what it is like to be head-over-heels in love.
Love! Is there anything as lovely as loving a lover? To be in love, to rejoice in loveliness, to love the very life of one’s beloved? I love being in love.
In this example, the repetition of “love” in its various forms emphasizes just how enjoyable loving is, in equal variety.
For a second example, imagine a boy who is very frustrated.
He was so frustrated he felt frustrated with his own frustration, as if the very act of being frustrated could frustrate more frustration to arise in his already-frustrated mind.
Once again, repetition of the root word emphasizes its power and transformative effect on the mood of the frustrated fellow.
When to Use Polyptoton
Polyptoton in its most basic form is used for emphasis. Repetition of word creates emphasis, but repetition of a word in a variety of forms creates an emphasis that is even more wide-ranging, showing how the word’s mood and meaning can be used in many different ways. Polyptoton is frequently used in poetry and prose, speeches, songs, and even dialogue in television, advertisements, and movies. Because polyptoton is a form of wordplay, it should not be used in more formal instances where poeticism and wit would be unwelcome or inappropriate, such as a research paper or user’s manual.