Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Hysteron proteron

This is a figure of speech in which the natural order of events is reversed. It occurs in well known phrases sich as 'born and bred' 'put on your shoes and socks' and 'thunder and lightning'.

Be careful of accidental hysteron proteron in your writing, for example 'Fred jumped in the air. A loud crash from the dropped tray of glasses had startled him.' Unless you have a good reason for doing things differently, cause should come before result.

Can you think of other examples of hysteron proteron?

21 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

I'm sure I could ... but those are excellent - now I'll be minded about this photo for the rest of the day! I'm going for more coffee! Cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think you should be wearing socks with those shoes anyway...

Annalisa Crawford said...

I didn't realise it had a name...

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

what would you call..."On the bright side, the sun was going down."

Patsy said...

More coffee? Does that mean I've driven you to drink, Hilary?

Patsy said...

You're right, Alex - there isn't really room.

Patsy said...

I only found out fairly recently, Annalisa.

Patsy said...

I don't know, Mac. Bet there is a word for it though.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

You made me think in a good way. Cause before result - thank you, Patsy. It's a new lesson for me. I'll keep it in mind.
Be well.

Chrys Fey said...

I had no idea this had a name...I suppose everything does.

Rosemary Johnson said...

Well, that's a piece of writing advice I've never heard. (So much of what counts as writing advice is re-hashed and re-hashed.)

Like your shoes, and your socks, Patsy, btw.

Meradeth Houston said...

I've never actually thought about some of those phrases being backwards! Haha! It'll certainly have me analyzing more of them (and my writing) from now on:)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Loved this post, and loved the examples.

Maggie May said...

I’ve learnt something new too. I suppose as well as being hysteron proterons, they are also cliches? I shall be looking out for them.

Patsy said...

Glad you found it helpful!

Patsy said...

I wonder if there's a name for not knowing things have a name?

Patsy said...

I do like to be different, Rosemary.

Patsy said...

In a good way, I hope!

Patsy said...

Thanks, Elizabeth.

Patsy said...

"They're not always cliches, Maggie," Patsy says, after reading Maggie's comment.

That was a hysteron proteron.

Patsy reads Maggie's comment and replies, "They're not always cliches, Maggie.

That wasn't.

Leigh Lundin said...

Best part of the post is it makes me want to go back over my own writing to see if I can catch one.