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Definition: The pretended refusal of something one keenly desires.

Pronunciation: ak-ciz-mus.

Synonyms:  It’s a rhetorical term for coyness.


The word is from the Greek word akkismós (prudery), and is a derivative of akkízesthai (to feign ignorance).

Why this word?

Ok! Brace yourself. I’m going to place you in a situation.

Assume yourself to be sitting at your friend’s house, savoring Pizza slices while watching TV. It was all fun and games until you swerved just to discover that there is only one slice of pizza left in the box. So slowly, you…. Screechhhhh. WAIT.

There are actually two possible scenarios:

Case1: “Friend” is your best friend/sibling:

I don’t think you would or anyone would ever stop in this case. You might pick it up and tempt him to prize it from your hand, resulting into a scuffle and the floor savoring the last slice in the end.

Case2: “Friend “is someone who you respect or perhaps just spending some time with some ulterior motives (like borrowing notes or books during exams?):

In this case, you will stealthily veer your hand back to the place where it was initially, and will wait for him/her to analyze the situation. The most probable thing that could happen would be your friend asking you to have it and you refusing it, but covertly wanting it. This is the point where you’ll evince the fine art of accismus. It happens.

I usually blurt out this alibi- No, No. It’s fine, you can have it. I’ve already had a lot. Besides, I was already full when I came.

How to use the word accismus in sentence?

It’s a rhetorical term (just like litotes, chiasmus, etc). It has applications. Nature herself has surrounded these delicate souls with an ever-present, in-born guard, with modesty, both in speaking and hearing. A woman requires no figure of eloquence–herself excepted–so often as that of accismus.

“As he presented her with the diamond necklace, Veronica gasped and, after a moment’s falter, said, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly accept such a gift…”

“Did he take the present that you proffered? No! typical show of accismus came into play and he rejected it”


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Written by Akshay Dashore

Akshay is a Civil engineer who, for his love of words, preferred words over engineering. He is an avid reader and a prolific writer.


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