Paraphrase Tool


Updated Jan 21, 2023

Understanding the Rhetorical Device of Commutatio: Enhancing Persuasion Through Repetition and Variation


In the realm of rhetoric, persuasive language techniques play a crucial role in capturing the attention of an audience and effectively conveying a message. One such device, commutatio, offers a powerful tool for enhancing persuasion through the use of repetition and variation. In this article, we will explore the concept of commutatio, provide examples of its application, and analyze its impact on audience engagement.

What is Commutatio?

Communatio, also known as commutatio or commutation, is a rhetorical device that involves the repetition and alteration of key words or phrases throughout a speech or written work. By skillfully utilizing commutatio, speakers and writers can emphasize certain ideas, evoke strong emotions, and reinforce their message in the minds of their audience.

Examples of Commutatio

To better understand the practical application of commutatio, let's examine a few examples from famous speeches and literature:

Example 1: Martin Luther King Jr. - "I Have a Dream"

In his iconic speech, Martin Luther King Jr. employed commutatio to great effect, repeatedly using the phrase "I have a dream" to emphasize his vision of racial equality. By consistently returning to this powerful refrain, King not only reinforced his central message but also created a sense of unity among his audience.

Example 2: William Shakespeare - Sonnet 18

Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, often referred to as "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?", showcases commutatio through the repetition of the word "thee" and variations of the word "summer." These repetitions serve to highlight the beauty and timelessness of the subject, while also creating a rhythmic and memorable flow within the sonnet.

Example 3: Winston Churchill - "We Shall Fight on the Beaches"

During World War II, Winston Churchill delivered a speech inspiring the British people to persevere in the face of adversity. In this speech, Churchill utilized commutatio by repeating the phrase "we shall fight" to instill a sense of determination and unity. By employing this device, he effectively emphasized the unwavering resolve of the British population.

The Impact of Commutatio on Audience Engagement

Communatio serves as a powerful tool in capturing the attention of an audience and enhancing their engagement with a message. By employing repetition and variation, commutatio can create a sense of familiarity and rhythm, making the content more memorable to listeners or readers. Additionally, this device can evoke emotional responses, emphasize key ideas, and reinforce the central message, thereby increasing the persuasiveness of the communication.


In the art of rhetoric, commutatio stands as a valuable device that allows speakers and writers to enhance their persuasive power through the strategic use of repetition and variation. By effectively employing commutatio, individuals can emphasize their message, create a sense of unity or emotional impact, and ultimately captivate their audience. So, whether you're crafting a speech, writing a persuasive essay, or simply seeking to engage your listeners or readers, the skillful implementation of commutatio can undoubtedly elevate the impact of your communication.


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