The Everlasting Gobstopper Toner

About 9 months ago, my laser printer's low toner light started blinking. So I bought a new cartridge about 6 months ago.

Well, many hundred pages later, I am still waiting for the toner to run out. Not that I am complaining (although ... I cannot remember where I put that new toner cartridge when this one eventually does run dry).

Today's word is chiastic.

chiasmus [ky-AZ-mus] (plural -mi), a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words ("Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure" --Byron) or just a reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas . . . . The figure is especially common in 18th century English poetry, but is also found in prose of all periods. It is named after the Greek letter chi (x), indicating a "criss-cross" arrangement of terms. Adjective: chiastic. - The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms

I came across is while reading Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life.

You can get more than you ever hoped for on this word here - an entire website devoted to chiasmi (as the website cautions: The plural is chiasmi. However, saying chiasmi can come across as pretentious, so you'll want to do that rarely.).

Image gently borrowed from here.


b said…
Interesting about your toner. Good thing you didn't change it right when the light came on!

I like today's word. A chiasums can be a great use of language and when overdone/forced, can also be very annoying! :) I peeked briefly at the site link you provided and this example of sound reversal is probably my favorite:

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me
Than a frontal lobotomy."
-- Randy Hanzlick, title of song

Okay, not really my favorite but something tells me this has to be a country song! Haha. Sorry, I think I'm beyond tired today!
Richard said…
breal: until yesterday, I never recall hearing of a chiasmus. And until today, I did not really know what it meant. Now I do, it is the playful reversal of words or sounds.

I wonder why it didn't get covered in high school when we did things like onomatopeia, alliteration and palindromes?

It is not my first laser printer, but I wasn't sure how soon the empty light came on before the cartridge was truly empty. Normally I just waited until I printed a page and streaks of text were missing.
Barbara said…
I ignore all subscription offers to have me re-up before the last issue, just as I usually wait for my printer to stop printing before changing the cartridge. I must say I am a little more responsive when the GAS or OIL light comes on in my car.
Richard said…
barbara: I am not that responsive to my gas gauge either (never had my oil lamp come on).
Ancilla said…
i just know it right now.
i never know that it has been called chiasmus.

thanks to you.
KayMac said…
GREAT word. passing it along to my daughter who wants to be a Lit major
Richard said…
ancilla: I didn't know it was a word until the day before I posted the entry. And I did not fully understand it until the day I posted the entry. It is an interesting play on words that now has an official name.

kaymac: I hope you daughter gets a kick out of it or at least of knowing there is an official name for this type of word play.
aka R'acquel said…
Hmm... this makes me wonder if i'm inherrently chiasumastic. My brain tends to automatically kick into a mode of reversing/inverting/upside-down & inside-outing things, very much like being presented with a coin or a car - i always get so curious about wanting to see it's other-side.

Thanks. I really enjoyed learning about this word today.

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