The separation of the parts of a compound word by another word or words, usually for emphasis or comic effect.
Eliza Dolitttle: “Fan-bloody-tastic” or “abso-blooming-lutely” (Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw).
“This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.”(Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)
“what-so-ever” inserted in the middle of “whatever.”
Did You Know
Temsis is the sole term in the English language to begin with tm-. It is a rhetorical device. It involves the breaking down of a phrase or a word into two parts. In simpler words, tmesis is an insertion of a word between a word, a compound word or a phrase (phrasal verbs usually). It is a practice of dividing a phrase or word into its components by inserting another word in the middle of that phrase or word. Tmesis is commonly employed in words that have more than three syllables.
Tmesis is mainly used to create humor and lay emphasis on a particular word or phrase. The Romans and Greeks used tmesis for special effects in literature. In comedy, it works as over-done exaggeration. In poetry, its task is to stress a point as it forces the readers to give more attention to the cut phrase or line. It is regularly used in informal speech, as well.
In Australian English, it is called “tumba rumba”.