Definition of tmesis in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtmiːsɪs/

noun (plural tmeses /ˈtmiːsiːz/)

[mass noun]
The separation of parts of a compound word by an intervening word or words, used mainly in informal speech for emphasis (e.g. can’t find it any-blooming-where).
Example sentences
  • Isn't phrasal tmesis a syntactic equivalent of those ‘specious lines of play’ his books are filled with?
  • But my abso-bloody-lutely favourite way of swearing is to use bastardised tmesis - the splitting up of a compound word into parts, and then slotting a rude word in the middle.
  • A master of so many poetic devices, Humbert riddles the narrative with instances of tmesis, the figure Hartman identifies as the epitome of poetry's elided middles and overspecified ends.


Mid 16th century: from Greek tmēsis 'cutting', from temnein 'to cut'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tme¦sis

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