I don't do ad hominem attacks, unlike you.
March 5, 2008 9:16 PM   Subscribe

What's the word for saying something without saying it?

Ahh! This is deluding me, and I can't use Google to find out!
There's a word, I believe starting with 'a' and vaguely sounding like 'apotheosis' that means a debate/oratorial technique to mention something without proclaiming not to mention it. Here's an example in action:

(while in debate) "I think X candidate is bad, and I want to talk about the bad foreign policy issues X has instead of debating the fact that X secretly has chronic explosive diarrhea."

Do you know anything like this? Anything similar to this? Thanks!
posted by suedehead to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:17 PM on March 5, 2008

posted by pedmands at 9:19 PM on March 5, 2008

posted by dws at 9:20 PM on March 5, 2008

posted by freshwater_pr0n at 9:20 PM on March 5, 2008

posted by johngoren at 9:21 PM on March 5, 2008

Well, in your example, the candidate does say it. For insinuate/innuendo/imply you would have something like "I want to talk about foreign policy, not adult diaper policy!"
posted by delmoi at 9:28 PM on March 5, 2008

Best answer: apophasis?
posted by not me at 9:31 PM on March 5, 2008

Response by poster: delmoi: you see, that's kinda the point, which is why the replies so far aren't the answer. Maybe a better description would be a tactic of pretending not to say something while actually saying it.
posted by suedehead at 9:31 PM on March 5, 2008

Best answer: Yeah, apophasis is the broadest term, and paralipsis is the rhetorical move.
posted by cgc373 at 9:33 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: YES! Thank you! Well kind of - the word I remembered was indeedapophasis, but the word itself turns out to be actually paralipsis, on the same Wikipedia page! Awesome! Woohoo! Thanks!
posted by suedehead at 9:34 PM on March 5, 2008

Paralipsis. "Far be it from me to mention the allegations about my opponent's personal life..."
posted by ottereroticist at 9:35 PM on March 5, 2008

Best answer: Hilariously, I was trying to find the answer by looking up Rhetoric in wikipedia, and a term that means nearly the opposite - to say something obvious by not saying it - also sounds a bit like "apotheosis": Aposiopesis.

That just seems like a recipe for trouble.
posted by bettafish at 9:36 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "...and I'm not going to bring up the fact that this has already been previously discussed".
posted by Deathalicious at 10:08 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, Deathalicious! I didn't think of searching under rhetoric, but it's nice to have that other question as a reference.
posted by suedehead at 11:10 PM on March 5, 2008

Also, praeteritio.
posted by desuetude at 6:20 AM on March 6, 2008

Linguists talk about "indirection" and politicians about "plausibly deniable" statements.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:51 AM on March 6, 2008

There's also the verb "to intimate".
posted by interrobang at 8:30 AM on March 6, 2008

Desuetude has it. Praeteritio or, anglicized, praeterition.
posted by Bromius at 9:37 AM on March 6, 2008

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