Paraphrase Tool


Updated Apr 15, 2023

The Power of Adynaton: Unleashing the Rhetorical Device of Impossibility


In the realm of rhetoric, language holds the power to captivate, persuade, and inspire. One such tool that can elevate the impact of communication is the adynaton. Derived from the Greek word "adynatos" meaning "impossible," adynaton is a rhetorical device that employs exaggerated impossibility to emphasize a point or to create a vivid image in the reader's mind. In this article, we will explore the art of adynaton, its various forms, and how it has been effectively used throughout history.

The Essence of Adynaton

Adynaton, as a rhetorical device, is characterized by the intentional use of hyperbole to depict an unrealistic scenario or an impossible event. By stretching the boundaries of possibility, adynaton aims to evoke strong emotions, create a memorable impression, or emphasize the magnitude of a situation. It often employs vivid imagery, exaggeration, and disbelief to make a point that cannot be ignored.

Examples of Adynaton in Literature

Shakespearean Adynaton

Renowned playwright William Shakespeare, a master of rhetoric, skillfully employed adynaton in his works. In his tragedy "Macbeth," Lady Macbeth expresses her desire for darkness to hide her evil deeds by exclaiming:

"Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not the wound it makes."

Here, Lady Macbeth's plea for the night to become impenetrably dark illustrates the extent of her desperation to conceal her guilt. By utilizing adynaton, Shakespeare magnifies the intensity of her emotions and the gravity of her intentions.

Political Adynaton

Politicians often utilize adynaton to emphasize the significance of their proposed policies or to criticize the actions of their opponents. Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy famously declared:

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Kennedy's use of adynaton in this statement highlights the extraordinary challenge of reaching the moon, emphasizing the audacity and determination required to achieve such a feat. By employing this rhetorical device, Kennedy effectively inspired the nation to strive for greatness.

Adynaton in Modern Advertising

In contemporary advertising, adynaton is frequently employed to capture attention and leave a lasting impression on consumers. One notable example is the Red Bull energy drink slogan:

"Red Bull gives you wings."

While it is evident that consuming Red Bull does not literally grant individuals the ability to fly, this adynaton creates a powerful association in the consumer's mind. The exaggerated claim emphasizes the energy-boosting effects of the product, suggesting that it can provide a similar sense of liberation and vitality.


The adynaton is a compelling rhetorical device that harnesses the power of impossibility to communicate ideas more effectively. Whether it is used in literature, politics, or advertising, adynaton has the ability to captivate audiences, evoke emotions, and leave a lasting impact. By skillfully employing adynaton, writers and speakers can create vivid imagery, emphasize key points, and inspire audiences to think beyond the limitations of the possible. So, let us embrace the power of adynaton and unleash its potential to transform communication into an art form that is both memorable and persuasive.

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