This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Nuts and Bolts: tricolon.

A tricolon is not, as far as I know, part of an animals' digestive system. Nor is it a punctuation mark with an extra dot in it.

Instead it's similar to an isocolon, a bicolon, and a tetracolon. And they're all phrases with a certain number of parts.

The purest form of one of these -colon things will have the same number of words in each part, but people aren't too fussy about this.

An ancient and famous tricolon is Julius Caesar's veni, vidi, vici, I came, I saw, I conquered. An English tricolon is the expression free, gratis, and for nothing.

There are many others: beg, borrow, or steal; Tom, Dick, and Harry; [Never in the field of human conflict was] so much owed by so many to so few.*

There are two special forms of tricolon, the tricolon crescens and the tricolon diminuens. The first is where the three items get louder or more important or bigger as they go along, and the second is, obviously, the opposite.

Dwight D Eisenhower was using tricolon crescens when he said: [This world in arms is not spending money alone.] It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

And Dorothy Parker gave an example of a tricolon diminuens when she said: [I require three things in a man]: he must be handsome, ruthless and stupid.

Which category wine women and song fits into I leave it to yourself to determine.

Thing To Use Today: tricolon. Tri- is from the Greek for threis; kōlon means limb or clause.

*That's the famous orator Winston Churchill, of course.

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