I just learned a new word recently: chiasmus. I also came up with (hopefully) my own.
It started when I read an entry from a writing blog I frequent called Quick And Dirty Tips, specifically one under Grammar Girl. The author wrote on five “uncommon figures of speech” that time, two of which I’ve never heard of until now.
One of them struck a tone with me: chiasmus. As defined in that article:
Chiasmus [kahy-az-muh s]
When Squiggly says to Aardvark “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” he’s using antithesis, but he’s using a special type called chiasmus. Chiasmus puts parallel phrases in reverse order to make a point. I prefer to refer to this one as “crisscross apple sauce” –can you tell I have young children?
It reminded me of one example I saw in a cartoon (gasp) decades ago:
A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.
Which actually rings true to a point. For the most part.
Then that article gave another gem of an example:
Many youthful men long for fame, and many famous men long for youth.
A while ago I messaged someone that I was somewhat…somewhat…concerned about a mutual friend. I kinda wanted to check if that mutual friend is okay, but decided against it.
Later, I saw mutual friend acting quite fine. So, I guess I was wrong what I messaged that someone earlier because everyone turned out fine.
Then it occurred to me: I told that someone I’m glad I was wrong that time. So, I decided to create my own chiasmus.
It goes like this:
I’d rather be wrong where things go right, than to be right where things go wrong.
It’s that feeling where you think something’s wrong, and others might think you’ve gone bonkers. Well, I’m glad I was wrong earlier.
Imagine telling someone – much more a group of people – that something’s wrong where you’re thought loco, only to later find out you’re right and something wrong happens to somebody or more. I especially don’t like the second part if somebody gets hurt.