Part of speech: noun
Origin: Latin, mid-17th century
A figure of speech by which an impossible (or highly unlikely) situation is used for emphasis; an instance of this.
Examples of Adynaton in a sentence
"With a bit of adynaton, the story went from mundane to fantastic."
"It's just adynaton, but the campfire story was so impossibly scary none of us could sleep."
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If you take a rhetoric class, you'll learn tools for persuasive writing and public speaking. One of these tricks is adynaton, or a figure of speech in which an impossible situation is described to make a point. Think: "raining cats and dogs" or "when pigs fly."
Did you Know?
Parents might use the tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" as adynaton to teach their children not to exaggerate or tell false stories. In this case, a bit of exaggeration is used as a lesson about the dangers of exaggeration.