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The Top 10: Sentences That Begin and End With the Same Word

A sentence that begins and ends with the same word – such as “Nice to see you; to see you nice!”– is called an epanadiplosis, according to Haggard Hawks, one of Twitter’s best word-mavens. So I asked for 10 more.

1. “Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2. From James of Nazareth, who also nominated “Hope that is seen is not hope” (Romans 8:24). 

2. “Nation shall speak peace unto nation.” Motto of the BBC, dating from its founding in 1927. Thanks to John Peters. 

3. “The king is dead: long live the king.” Steven Fogel. 

4. “Yes because he never did a thing like that before … and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” The final sentence of Ulysses, James Joyce, 121 pages long. Nominated by Jim. 

6. “One for all, and all for one.” The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas, 1844. Often inverted as “All for one and one for all”, which also works. Nominated by Craig Nicholson, Darren Sugg and Lynda Bearne. 

7. “Events, dear boy, events.” Attributed to Harold Macmillan. Thanks to Dickon Fethers. 

8. “Mankind must put an end to war – or war will put an end to mankind.” John F Kennedy, 1961. From Chris Jones. 

9. “Brexit means Brexit.” Theresa May. Nominated by Jack Blanchard. 

10. “Nothing? Nothing comes of nothing.” King Lear; another nomination from Jim. There are a few in Shakespeare. Nicole Galvin also nominated “Fair is foul and foul is fair” (Macbeth). 

Not quite making the cut: “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Line from a poem by Gertrude Stein, 1913, usually used (including by Stein herself) with an extra “A” at the beginning. “Next time there won’t be a next time.” Phil Leotardo in The Sopranos. Also attributed to Eminem. Thanks to Graham Kirby and Steven Fogel, but it begins and ends with the same phrase rather than word. Hamish McRae, my colleague, recently quoted Warren Buffett as saying that investors should be “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”, as Steven Fogel reminded me, but that’s not a complete sentence. 

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Finally, James Dinsdale nominated “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am”, a British music hall ditty from the 1910s that bizarrely became the fastest-selling single in US chart history in 1965 when re-recorded by Herman’s Hermits. It’s “I’m” and “I am” but James pleads that it knocked The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” off the top of the Billboard 100. 

Next week: Shocking falsehoods in historical dramas, inspired by the fuss over The Crown

Coming soon: Inspired by 24 hours of clips of Christopher Plummer not actually singing “Edelweiss”, things people are remembered for that they didn’t actually do (excluding things they didn’t actually say).

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to