Adynaton (a-dyn’-a-ton): A declaration of impossibility, usually in terms of an exaggerated comparison. Sometimes, the expression of the impossibility of expression.

A: You’ve heard the saying, “Make hay while the sun shines.” I’m not sure, but I think it means you shouldn’t make hay at night. You could be injured operating heavy equipment after dark, and also, get lost in the hayfield, maybe ending up driving your tractor on the freeway and getting a ticket.

But all that is nothing compared to your latest Big Idea, which has as much of a chance of succeeding as a pony in college, or climbing a ladder to the moon, or living in “an octopus’s garden in the sea.” We know Ringo had a bit of a “problem” when he wrote that, and you’ve got a bit of a problem with what you’re proposing. Blue-Tooth? It sounds like a dental disease. And God, what a stupid idea. People already plug their headsets into their media players with a nice skinny little cable. Voila! Music! Your idea is doomed. Being ‘wireless’ is like being shoeless on hot sand. It’s like Hansel and Gretel without bread crumbs. You are done. Finished. Defeated. Pack it in.

B: I just got an e-mail from Bose this this morning and Apple last night. I think I’m about to be a billionaire. They love my Blue-Tooth, even though you don’t. I’m taking out a lease on a condo overlooking the Bay. I pick up my Tesla this afternoon. Let’s go for a ride so you can tell me again how stupid electric cars are. I remember you said, “Electric cars have as much of a chance of succeeding as killing a wolf with a fly swatter.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Video readings of the example are available on YouTube: Johnnie Anaphora—All the Figures of Speech

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