Anapodoton (an’-a-po’-do-ton): A figure in which a main clause is suggested by the introduction of a subordinate clause, but that main clause never occurs.

Anapodoton is a kind of anacoluthon, since grammatical expectations are interrupted. If the expression trails off, leaving the subordinate clause incomplete, this is sometimes more specifically called anantapodoton. Anapodoton has also named what occurs when a main clause is omitted because the speaker interrupts himself/herself to revise the thought, leaving the initial clause grammatically unresolved but making use of it nonetheless by recasting its content into a new, grammatically complete sentence.

Things were bad enough. But when it started to boil. . . . I heard the door open. It was crazy Ted, my identical twin. He insisted that we dress alike. I did what he told me because, even though I had developed some strategies, I remembered what he did to “insubordinates.” He had strangled my pet chicken “Cluck” when she failed to lay an Easter egg on demand. As the years went by, he wanted me to wear a balaclava all the time like he did—he wanted us to be known as “Dos Criminales” and “Strike terror into the hearts and minds of our neighbors.” I refused and he went crazy for the rest of the day, shaking his fist and yelling “You will die at dawn traitor.” He put chewing gum in my hair and lit my bicycle on fire, which wasn’t easy. I told our parents and Dad looked up from the puzzle he was working on and said, “Don’t worry, he is just sowing his spring oats.” I told my Dad it was actually “wild oats.” Dad mumbled into his puzzle, “Oats are oats” and I went back to think about a defense strategy that would enable me to tell my brother “No.” I figured the best strategy was to become a sprinter and run like hall after telling him “No.” I tried out for the high school track team specializing in the 100-yard dash. Whenever I was going to say “No” to my twin, I crouched down like I was at the track and field starting blocks. I’d say “No” and launch off the imaginary starting blocks. It didn’t work too well inside the house, but I would open the front door to facilitate my getaway.

Ted’s recent return to my life was unsettling. Even after 3 years in prison for lighting his boss’s house on fire and kidnapping his daughter, Ted was still the same remorseless psychopath. I thought it was just a matter of time before he murdered me. Then, a stray cat came into our lives. At first, Ted wanted to run it over in the driveway. Then, it rubbed against his leg and purred. Ted was captivated. He picked up the cat, petted it and scratched it behind the ears. Ted was a changed man. He bought a flea collar and named the cat “Cardinal” because it was “a religious blessing.” That was a little troublesome, but at that point I was open to anything. Ted plays with Cardinal with a piece of string and has taught him to roll over, play dead, and jump through a hula hoop. Ted puts on little shows for the neighborhood kids.

Maybe the cat was a religious blessing, but I still thought that Ted would murder me when he got tired of Cardinal. We had a few close calls, but nothing fatal. The incident with the drill was almost too close for comfort. Right now I hear an idling chainsaw outside my door. I yell “Think of Cardinal” and the sound starts moving away, down the hall.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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