Ironic “Something-ism”

A couple weeks ago I was watching an episode of Forensic Files on Netflix, when a specific grammatical technique (I honestly don’t know what else to call it) was mentioned. The name fails me, but I remember it was something like “Ironic Something-ism”.

The best example that comes to mind was a quote from a note left by a murderer:

“She wanted to cut it off, so I cut off her head.”

The term specifically had to do with using the same word twice with different meanings as in the quote. What is this called? I’ve tried Googling it, but I can’t find anything. I might go back to the episode later, but I’m currently on lunch break at work and it’s driving me insane.


I found it! It’s called Ironic Repetition. The episode was Season 11, Episode 30, “A Tight Leash”. I was mistaken as the quote from the show was actually,

“She wanted to break it off. So I broke her neck.”

This appears to be a rather uncommon Forensic Linguistics term, possibly coined by forensic linguist Robert Leonard. I honestly don’t know if there is another name for this device, but I was able to find a reference to it in Forensic Linguistics: Applying the Scientific Principles of Language Analysis to Issues of the Law, which was written by
Robert Andrew Leonard, and published by The Humanities Collection.

To quote the paper:

… the device consists of repeating the same verb in two consecutive
sentences in a passage but changing the context of use in such a way
as to express irony. In both cases the irony is achieved by a change
of the subject and a shift of the complement of the verb from the
first sentence to the second.

Source : Link , Question Author : DanteTheEgregore , Answer Author : DanteTheEgregore

Leave a Comment