A "Reversible Raincoat" – What a great term!

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask, what you can do for your counrty.”

– John F. Kennedy

By now, you must realize that I love to collect quotations. I use them often in my writing and public speaking. I like the “rhythm” of certain quotes.  Expescially those that juxtapose a key word. For example, the quote from President Kennedy’s Inaugural address that open up this posting.

Here is another example from President Kennedy:

“Let us never negotiate out of fear but let us never fear to negotiate.” – John F. Kennedy

Now, I find out that speechwriters have coined a term to describe this type of literary device. They call it the “reversible raincoat.” I love it! It is so descriptive.

And when it is used judiciously, this device vividly describes a concept. For example:

  • “People never care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – John C. Maxwell
  • “An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” – Winston Churchill

So how did I discover this rich term – the “reversible raincoat?” In the current issue of Business Week magazine, columnist Carmine Gallo uses some exceprts from Theodore Sorenson’s new book, Counselor as the basis for his article. Sorenson was President Kennedy speechwriter. Read Carmine’s article it is a good one!

I admit to reading a few excerpts from this book but had never discovered the “reversible raincoat” terminology. Now I must buy the book! I need to know more about this term and I want to gather some more “insider” information.

In doing some research on the Internet I came across this article. The formal term to describe this literary device is “Chiasmus.” Yes, that is a descriptive term. But it paints a different picture in my mind. One involving a visit to my physician.

I prefer the “reversible raincoat.”

And now I have another story to share with my audience. Thank you Messers. Sorensen and Gallo!

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  1. The title of your blog: (Danny Rocks Tips and Timesavers » Blog Archive » A “Reversible Raincoat” – What a great term!) seemed intresting so thats how I ended up here!

  2. Yes, the term, “Reversible Raincoat” is an interesting and picturesque term. Thanks for adding your comment.

    Danny Rocks
    The Company Rocks

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