Acoloutha: The substitution of reciprocal words; that is, replacing one word with another whose meaning is close enough to the former that the former could, in its turn, be a substitute for the latter. This term is best understood in relationship to its opposite, anacoloutha.

Barbara cut her lawn. Edward mowed his lawn. Jimmy dressed his lawn. Carl cut off his finger with his hedge clippers. The ambulance ran him to the hospital. His wife Barb drove to the hospital, following the ambulance far behind with Carl’s finger in a little red and white lunch cooler. She was sure that the finger could be sewn back on. When she got to the hospital they told her that they already had Carl’s finger and had reattached it, and that Carl had to stay over night for observation. As she headed back home alone with the mystery finger in the chest beside her on the seat, she wondered if there were other body parts buried near the hedge. When she got home, she got the shovel out of the garage and took a closer look at the finger. Why didn’t she notice before? The nail of he severed finger was well-manicured. Carl’s nails had never been well manicured.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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