apostrophe

apostrophe, figure of speech in which an absent person, a personified inanimate being, or an abstraction is addressed as though present. The term is derived from a Greek word meaning a turning away, and this sense is maintained when a narrative or dramatic thread is broken in order to digress by speaking directly to someone not there, e.g., Envy, be silent and attend! —Alexander Pope, On a Certain Lady at Court.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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