Correctio (cor-rec’-ti-o): The amending of a term or phrase just employed; or, a further specifying of meaning, especially by indicating what something is not (which may occur either before or after the term or phrase used). A kind of redefinition, often employed as a parenthesis (an interruption) or as a climax.

This is not a drill!  It’s a pipe wrench and I’m going to whack you in the head with it if you don’t stop humming that damn Mario Brothers chip-tune!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Deesis (de’-e-sis): An adjuration (solemn oath) or calling to witness; or, the vehement expression of desire put in terms of “for someone’s sake” or “for God’s sake.”

I swear by the hood ornament on my Rolls, if you don’t eat your caviar I will ground you for a fortnight, spank little Oodles with my cricket bat and show your soiled linens to your school chums!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Dehortatio (de-hor-ta’-ti-o): Dissuasion.

Every day you sit at your kitchen table working at your hobby projects–empty cans with pictures from Star Magazine pasted on them, paperclip key rings, gum wrapper religious icons, and a bunch of other stuff.  Maybe you’re having fun, but maybe you could use your spare time to make something better for somebody else. There’s a food pantry right around the corner. There’s a homeless shelter on the other side of town. There’s a literacy program at St. Mary’s. Take your pick. Volunteer your time. Give it to somebody who needs it. Get up. Go out. Do good.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Dendographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

Tree. Tree. Tree. Three balsam pine trees. Three balsam pine trees planted by you, you, and me. We three, like the trees, stand together against the wind, join as silhouettes in front of the sunset sky, grow, love the earth, and smell pretty good too.

But the trees–the three balsam pine trees–will most likely outlive you, you, and me. That’s the difference right now between us and trees. And we know the myriad differences between we three and the three trees, but for now, let’s live in the simile–trees like us, we like trees.

This quality of liking heads us through these holy days and holy nights knowing that being in the spirit of seeing and feeling and tasting and finding and embracing and celebrating what’s alike opens in the aggregate everywhere, AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME, to the angelic powers of Eros and Peitho that open our eyes and ears and hearts and arms to the goddess Themis who counsels us, and fills us with a hot desire to attune our souls to the sweetest chord.

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Diacope (di-a’-co-pee): Repetition of a word with one or more between, usually to express deep feeling.

Me crazy?

You think I’m crazy? You save your toenail clippings in Ziploc bags and hang them on a hook in your closet!

Me crazy?

What about the time you smeared mustard on the bathroom wall as an air freshener?

Me crazy?

You’re the one who’s crazy!

What do you think of that, nut case? Why don’t you put mustard on your toenails?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Dialogismus (di-a-lo-giz’-mus): Speaking as someone else, either to bring in others’ points of view into one’s own speech, or to conduct a pseudo-dialog through taking up an opposing position with oneself.

In 1967 Tammy Wynette sang,

“Last night all alone in a barroom met a man with a drink in his hand.
He had baby blue eyes, coal black hair, and a smile that a girl understands.
Then he came and sat down at my table and as he placed his hand over mine,
I found myself wanting to kiss him for temptation was flowing like wine . . . “

Tammy, what were you thinking? If you hadn’t seen the reflection of your wedding band in that guy’s eyes when you were dancing, you may have had the time of your life! Instead, you went home.

That’s why unfaithful spouses should own, exchange, and wear EZ-OFF Wedding Bands.

When “maybe” is the first word that occurs to you when you’re asked to say “I do,” the EZ-OFF Wedding Band is just what you need! Designed in 14 “gold” and cleverly disguised as a legitimate wedding band, the EZ-OFF looks, feels, and wears like the “real” thing! And it’s high tech too!

To remove the EZ-OFF, simply put your wedding band hand in your pocket, tap the code into your ring with your thumb, and that symbol of eternal love expands and silently glides off your finger on its retractable patented micro-wheels!

No more awkward pulling and tugging on the ring under the table! No more “I have to go to the restroom for a minute” to soap-up and twist off!  Never again will you have to explain that you wear a wedding band in memory of your dead spouse!

Tammy, it’s 2014! Don’t let those old-fashioned wedding bands keep your granddaughters and grandsons from steppin’ out!

Imagine, Tammy, if you had an EZ-OFF back in ’67! Mmmmm hmmmm!

Well, YOU–yes, you, you lusty viewer can have an EZ-OFF now! That’s right! Right now!

But you ask: How much is the EZ-OFF?

Well get ready because it’s not $1,000,000,000.00! It’s not even $500,000.00. Right now today or tonight or tomorrow, you can have your very own solid 14 “gold” EZ-OFF Wedding Band for the low low price of 50 payments of  $9.99!!

But wait, that’s not all! If you are one the first 14,000 soulless wretches to call within the next 20 minutes, we’ll throw in an additional EZ-OFF free of charge! Give it as a gift to one of your cheating lying friends! Sell it on E-Bay! Hang it from your rear view mirror! Yup–it’s yours to do with as you will, totally free of charge!


Call: 1-800-TO-CHEAT! Robo-prompters are standing by to tell you which buttons to press on your phone!

Don’t wait! You deserve it! Call: 1-800-TO-CHEAT without delay.

Don’t miss the next opportunity to “grab some fun!”

Don’t be a boo hoo 1967 Tammy!

Call: 1-800-TO-CHEAT!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Dianoea (di-a-noe’-a): The use of animated questions and answers in developing an argument (sometimes simply the equivalent of anthypophora).

Where was I last night? Where do you think I was? In the garage? In the recycling bin? In your closet listening to you and my best friend Ed making the bed squeak? What do you take me for? A fool? An idiot? A patsy? An overgrown carrot?  A piece of carry-on luggage? A horse’s ass?

I’m a what?  A lost Fedex driver with guitar strings in his pants and an unaddressed package wrapped in panty hose bouncing around under his seat? Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s me!

Do you want to know what’s in that package? Do you care whether it’s Ed’s head, or a bundt cake, or a tambourine? You have one guess and you better be right! What? Emptiness? The emptiness of our lives together? Bah!


SURPRISE! It’s a tambourine, and yes! Yes indeed! That is Ed’s face stretched across the frame! Want a piece of bundt cake? Come on!  Let’s sing!  “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man play a song for me. . . . “

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Diaphora (di-a’-pho-ra): Repetition of a common name so as to perform two logical functions: to designate an individual and to signify the qualities connoted by that individual’s name or title.

The police are not the police when they attack and injure unarmed citizens they’re supposed protect and defend.

Just think, if all  “enforcement officials” were permitted to shoot unarmed people who “threatened” them with rage-filled snarly looks!  NFL referees could pack Glocks with their penalty flags, and civility would reign for “the whole nine yards.” It would be like NYC where civility reigns for the “whole nine blocks” from Central Park South to 48th Street.


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Diaporesis: Deliberating with oneself as though in doubt over some matter; asking oneself (or rhetorically asking one’s hearers) what is the best or appropriate way to approach something [=aporia].

What should we do? Do about what? What we should do. And that is? Addressing myself as ‘we’ when I am talking to me. To me? Yes, to you! Wait!  On the one hand you talk to yourself, on the other, you listen to yourself talking to myself. I think your self and my self are the self-same self!

Now, what should we do? A duet? A duel?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.


Diaskeue (di-as-keu’-ee): Graphic peristasis (description of circumstances) intended to arouse the emotions.

Stabbed, the schoolteacher’s heart spit up its warm sustenance . Dry clotted footprints run across the cold tiled floor.

This is Abu Dhabi,  and this is anywhere where defenseless humans are slaughtered in public by lunatic zealots; by blades, bullets, bombs and stones.

We mourn the death of Ms. Ryan. We also mourn hatred’s conquering of public space even as we mourn the death of its spirit of charity and grace.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Diasyrmus (di’-a-syrm-os): Rejecting an argument through ridiculous comparison.

Claiming that you shot your mother because her smile irritated you is like claiming you sawed your foot off because you had a blister.

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Diazeugma (di-a-zoog’-ma): The figure by which a single subject governs several verbs or verbal constructions (usually arranged in parallel fashion and expressing a similar idea); the opposite of zeugma.

I couldn’t find my needle because my metal detector’s battery was dead, the haystack was on fire, and I was drunk.

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Definition courtesy of Silva Rhetoricae ( Continue reading


Dicaeologia (di-kay-o-lo’-gi-a): Admitting what’s charged against one, but excusing it by necessity.

A: Did you take my mother’s ashes off the fireplace mantle?

B: Yes, but I was forced to do it by our house cleaner. He refused to “dust the dead” and told me if I didn’t get the ashes out of the house immediately and forever he would quit right on the spot. I panicked. I had no choice.  I picked up the urn, ran out to the garage and put your mother’s ashes on the shelf alongside the mole repellent. I know your mother would like that.  She was so fond of furry little critters. Remember the time Spotty brought home the little wriggly bleeding vole when your mom was visiting from . . .

A: You call that an excuse? It sounds more like the beginning of an episode of “American Horror Story.” What are you going to tell me next, that you’re going to enjoy choking on the bag of used kitty litter out on the back porch?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Dilemma (di-lem’-ma): Offering to an opponent a choice between two (equally unfavorable) alternatives.

You have told us you are a kind man. Yet you’ve repeatedly beaten your children.

You have told us you are generous man. Yet you wear silk, gold rings, and silver buckles while your family sits here in rags, shoeless.

Clearly, you are a liar and miscreant. Now, tell us which of your misdeeds is worse: beating your children or depriving your family?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

Dirimens Copulatio

Dirimens Copulatio (di’-ri-mens ko-pu-la’-ti-o): A figure by which one balances one statement with a contrary, qualifying statement (sometimes conveyed by “not only … but also” clauses). A sort of arguing both sides of an issue.

Protagoras (c. 485-410 BC) asserted that “to every logos (speech or argument) another logos is opposed,” a theme continued in the Dissoi Logoi of his time, later codified as the notion of arguments in utrumque partes (on both sides). Aristotle asserted that thinking in opposites is necessary both to arrive at the true state of a matter (opposition as an epistemological heuristic) and to anticipate counterarguments. This latter, practical purpose for investigating opposing arguments has been central to rhetoric ever since sophists like Antiphon (c. 480-410 BC) provided model speeches (his Tetralogies) showing how one might argue for either the prosecution or for the defense on any given issue. As such, [this] names not so much a figure of speech as a general approach to rhetoric, or an overall argumentative strategy. However, it could be manifest within a speech on a local level as well, especially for the purposes of exhibiting fairness (establishing ethos [audience perception of speaker credibility]).

This pragmatic embrace of opposing arguments permeates rhetorical invention, arrangement, and rhetorical pedagogy.

When faced with a decision, time and place may vex our motives.  For example, being unable to be full of praise and full of rage toward the same issue, person, idea or anything else from within the compass of here and now, we are at a crisis, a stasis, a standstill.

Realizing that there are advantages and disadvantages to all prompts to decision we are stuck in a rut for the time-being.  That is, we must drive the road to judgment under the spell of a consistent motive, or we may zigzag, stop and start, back up, go forward, skid, lurch, crash, or, if we’re lucky (or unlucky), run out of gas, never getting anywhere, staying stuck in a rut.

In sum, while there may be two or more opposed why-ways to drive into the unknowable future, if you’re going to get anywhere at all, you must have the foresight to take a single (because best) why-way to your hope’s destination. Nevertheless, realize that there may be unforeseen roadblocks along the way that necessitate taking a detour–a different why-way–in order to get to your destination.

As a reminder of what may happen between now and then, here and there, I have a statue of Stephen Toulmin glued to my decision dashboard.  For he is the cousin of Hermes, the grandson of Magellan, and the Supreme Spirit of Life’s Road Trips.

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Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Distinctio (dis-tinc’-ti-o): Eliminating ambiguity surrounding a word by explicitly specifying each of its distinct meanings.

Hope: Desire for a future that is yet to be, does not exist, yet may be actualized by its bearers step after step, cross stitching history to join our memories with threads of courage that clothe the present in the-dream-coming-true.

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Distributio (dis-tri-bu’-ti-o): (1) Assigning roles among or specifying the duties of a list of people, sometimes accompanied by a conclusion.  (2) Sometimes this term is simply a synonym for diaeresis or merismus, which are more general figures involving division.

The CEO sets the tone. The VP tones the set. The CFO oversees the VP’s tone-setting of the set by continuously  assessing assets and liabilities and being set to instruct the VP to reset the tone of the set, and sometimes the set itself, to set the projected tone in accord with the set’s fluctuations so the CEO can set the tone in accord with the assessment. Brokers are set to put and take on sets of investors’ assets as the tone of the set is reset. Investors wait for quarterly reports that may set them to jubilance or malevolence. Consumers just buy stuff.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Ecphonesis (ec-pho-nee’-sis): An emotional exclamation.

Pat: “My head is on fire!”

Sam: “So is your imagination.”

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Effictio (ef-fik’-ti-o): A verbal depiction of someone’s body, often from head to toe.

Note: This figure was used in forensic rhetoric (legal argumentation) for purposes of clearly identifying an alleged criminal. It has often been adapted to poetical uses.

His head was shaped like an heirloom tomato–sort of elliptical with veined bumps running from front to back on the shaved part where his hair used to be.  His eyes were covered with a strip of spray-painted cardboard: flat red with little peepholes poked in it so he could see. His ears were pinned back like left and right side mirrors on a car ready to go through a car wash.   His neck looked like a scuffed traffic cone perched on his shoulders which were slumped and narrow like the back of a bentwood chair. His arms were fat fire hoses swinging as he walked toward me, clutching a big blue bucket with skinny little baby hotdog fingers accented by filthy fingernails.

His black t-shirt said in big bright-green letters: “Repent Or I will Pull Down My Pants.” His “pants” were two trash bags stapled to his T-shirt.

I was thinking “How’s he going to pull his pants down without ripping his T-shirt?”

I felt a shiver in my spine.

“Oh my God, it’s dad in his annual ‘surprise’ Halloween costume!”

I picked up a rock from the gutter and considered throwing it at him. Instead, I put it in his bucket.

“You may need this when the kids over on 85th street chase you like they did last year.”

“Do you remember, Dad?”

He looked at me with his cardboard-covered eyes and blew a tenor fart that slowly faded into the sound of a doleful tuba.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Ellipsis (el-lip’-sis): Omission of a word or short phrase easily understood in context.

Yesterday, I shaved my head. Tough! Rough!

Uh oh!

Problem. Five o’clock shadow around bald spot.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Enallage (e-nal’-la-ge): The substitution of grammatically different but semantically equivalent constructions.

The rain in Phoenix fell and fell and fell.  Drenched with nearly 2 inches of H2O, Interstate 17 closed, the airport closed, and 31,000 suburban Phonecians lost their electricity.

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Enantiosis (e-nan-ti-o’-sis): Using opposing or contrary descriptions together, typically in a somewhat paradoxical manner.

It’s generally a good idea to tell the truth, but sometimes it gets innocent people killed.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Enigma (e-nig’-ma): Obscuring one’s meaning by presenting it within a riddle or by means of metaphors that purposefully challenge the reader or hearer to understand.

What gets hotter and hotter the more it cools?

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Ennoia (en-no’-i-a): A kind of purposeful holding back of information that nevertheless hints at what is meant. A kind of circuitous speaking.

The car is covered in bird poop and mud. The bucket, sponge and hose are over there. The vacuum’s by the porch, near the faucet.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Enthymeme (en’-thy-meem): 1. The informal method [or figure] of reasoning typical of rhetorical discourse. The enthymeme is sometimes defined as a “truncated syllogism” since either the major or minor premise found in that more formal method of reasoning is left implied. The enthymeme typically occurs as a conclusion coupled with a reason. When several enthymemes are linked together, this becomes sorites. 2.  A figure of speech which bases a conclusion on the truth of its contrary. [Depending on its grammatical structure and specific word choice, it may be chiasmus].

1. We made it to New Hampshire! Let the fun begin!

2. If justice should be pursued always all the time, injustice should be avoided always all the time.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.