What is chiasmus?

Chiasmus is a statement (or question) formed by reversing the parts of a sentence.

Most people don’t know the meaning of the word ‘chiasmus’, but know several famous examples.

Famous examples of chiasmus

“Ask not what your country can do for you;
ask what you can do for your country.”
(John F Kennedy)

“One should eat to live,
not live to eat.”
(Cicero)

“Quitters never win
and winners never quit.”

“Which is it,
is man one of God’s blunders,
or God one of man’s blunders?”
(Frederich Nietzsche)

“I’d rather be looked over
than overlooked.”
(Mae West)

Creating one’s own chiasmus

To create chiasmus, one needs to think of something that gives a different (but intelligent) meaning when reversed.

“We’re good for each other, but others are good for us.”

“Life breeds happiness, and happiness breeds life.”

“When you possess anger, anger possesses you.”

More on chiasmus can be found here