Epenthesis (e-pen’-thes-is): The addition of a letter, sound, or syllable to the middle of a word. A kind of metaplasm. NoteEpenthesis is sometimes employed in order to accommodate meter in verse; sometimes, to facilitate easier articulation of a word’s sound. It can, of course, be accidental, and a vice of speech.

The NF-UH OH-L! What’s next? Drowning kittens? Cannibalism? Drive-by mooning? Satan worship? Communist quarterbacks?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Epergesis (e-per-gee’-sis): Interposing an apposition, often in order to clarify what has just been stated.

My cat, the thirty pounder, started working out today.

Instead of napping all day downstairs, he climbs the stairs around 11.00 in the morning and naps in the bathtub. Then, in the early evening he goes down the stairs and naps until around 7.00 in the living room. Then, he goes down the stairs into the basement and naps until around 10.00. Then, he goes upstairs and does his cardboard box “scratchercise” for five minutes, hurling bits of cardboard around the kitchen floor. Then, out of breath, he flops on the kitchen floor and waits for his nightly kitty treat.

Not a bad workout for a thirty-pound cat!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Epexegesis (ep-ex-e-ge’-sis): When one interprets what one has just said. A kind of redefinition or self-interpretation (often signaled by constructions such as “that is to say. . .”).

Promises are meant to be kept. That is, once made, they’re supposed to last forever. But I live in a world of change, and as change changes, I may be left holding onto a promise that may explode in my face and kill me.

What good are promises? They are only as good as their openness to revision where circumstances warrant their breaking.

Every promise should be unless, unless the promise is meant to be unkept. That is to say, when it is a lie.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Epicrisis (e-pi-cri’-sis): When a speaker quotes a certain passage and makes comment upon it.

Related figuresanamenesis–calling to memory past matters. More specifically, citing a past author from memory–and chreia (from the Greek chreiodes, “useful”) . . . “a brief reminiscence referring to some person in a pithy form for the purpose of edification.” It takes the form of an anecdote that reports either a saying, an edifying action, or both.

Pascal advises us: “Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false?”

He gives this advice as a reason to believe in God. However belief and faith encompass far more than religion. Faith and belief are operative in everyday life. From faith in our friends, to the belief that Oxyclean will do the job on our wine-stained shorts, we “gamble.”

Unlike one’s faith in God (which does not really seem to be much of a gamble anyway), faith’s gamble on friends and laundry products can, and do, lead to harm. Our friends betray us. Our pants are ruined.

Moreover, not knowing whether we will win or lose, we must gamble if we are to face the future and act. The prospects of having friends and clean pants are worth the risk.

On Wednesday in a speech addressing the world, acting as a sort of political trustee, President Obama will place a bet for the United States. Having faith in the wisdom of his wager, he will most likely bet on war.

What if we lose?

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Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epilogus (e-pi-lo’-gus): Providing an inference of what is likely to follow.

What’s next? Peace? War?

WE know what’s next.

THEY know what’s next.

It isn’t peace.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Epimone (e-pi’-mo-nee): Persistent repetition of the same plea in much the same words.

Please don’t start marching until you know where you’re going.

Please don’t start dropping bombs until you know where they should fall.

If you must do it, please do it right.

The world is on fire.

Fight fire with water.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epiplexis (e-pi-plex’-is): Asking questions in order to chide, to express grief, or to inveigh. A kind of rhetorical question [--the speaker does not expect an answer].

When will NATO actually take action? When Ukraine is annexed? When Hell freezes over? When the cow jumps over the moon? When Putin takes his shirt off? When John Kerry gets a haircut? When?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.


Epistrophe (e-pis’-tro-fee): Ending a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words.

The horizon. The landscape’s horizon. The future’s horizon. Time’s horizon. Life’s horizon.

Facing the horizon, we ask, “What’s next?” We answer, “We don’t know.”

Anxiety stoked, we ask again, “What’s next?” This time the question has an urgent tone.

Decision is our fate. Decision is our duty. Decision is our humanity, and our humanity is bound by imperfection, uncertainty, and agency swaying to the chiming questions tolling in our heads:

Why? Why? Why? Why?

Love? Hate? Hope? Fear?

How? How? How? How?

When? When? When? When?

Now? Never? Tomorrow? Forever?

You decide.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epitasis (e-pit’-a-sis): The addition of a concluding sentence that merely emphasizes what has already been stated. A kind of amplification. [The opposite of anesis.]

In every religious text, “doing good” is lauded and “doing evil” is vituperated. Suspended between good and evil, heaven and hell,  religious people are bound to decide which is which, why to do, and how to act in accord with a higher being’s will, aiming always all the time to everywhere “do good.”

The resulting catalog of actions motivated by “doing good” range from washing other peoples’ feet to cutting off other peoples’ heads.

All in a day history is made.  From toe to head, washing and cutting; bubbling suds, bubbling blood.

Healing and murdering.

Doing good.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.


Epitheton (e-pith’-e-ton): Attributing to a person or thing a quality or description-sometimes by the simple addition of a descriptive adjective; sometimes through a descriptive or metaphorical apposition.  (Note: If the description is given in place of the name, instead of in addition to it, it becomes antonomasia or periphrasis.)

D-Tape Dick is well-known for the life-sized humorous effigies he creates out of duct tape. His best known piece is “Abe Lincoln Dancing on a Fly Swatter Outside a Liquor Store.”

My favorite is “Carl Rove Bending Over With Blue Toothbrush Protruding.”

It is rumored that D-Tape Dick is currently working on a series called “Protrusions” that features additional celebrities posed with ‘signature’ protrusions. We’ve heard that Rush Limbaugh is up next, protruding a golden microphone, followed by Lady Gaga with a pork chop.

Where will it end?  Ha. Ha.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epitrope (e-pi’-tro-pe): A figure in which one turns things over to one’s hearers, either pathetically, ironically, or in such a way as to suggest a proof of something without having to state it. Epitrope often takes the form of granting permission (hence its Latin name, permissio), submitting something for consideration, or simply referring to the abilities of the audience to supply the meaning that the speaker passes over (hence Puttenham’s term, figure of reference). Epitrope can be either biting in its irony, or flattering in its deference.

A specific form of epitrope is the (apparent) admission of what is wrong in order to carry our point.

Go ahead, don’t vote! It doesn’t matter if another candidate gets elected that might as well come from Mars. Who cares if our mayor works for us? Who cares if our children get the best public education possible? Who cares if our police force is a pack of donut-sucking cretan lickspittles?

Have another beer.

It’s good to be an irresponsible oaf! Enjoy yourself!

A rubber bullet in the butt is just what you need!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epizeugma (ep-i-zoog’-ma): Placing the verb that holds together the entire sentence (made up of multiple parts that depend upon that verb) either at the very beginning or the very ending of that sentence.

Life ebbs in the tide of time.

Ebbs life in the tide of time.

Life in the tide of time ebbs.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Epizeuxis (e-pi-zook’-sis): Repetition of words with no others between, for vehemence or emphasis.

400 shot in the head, the back, the stomach, the heart, the lungs, the throat and neck. Mothers. Fathers. Daughters. Sons. Brothers. Sisters. Everyone.

Kidnapped. Sold. Ransomed. Crucified. Beheaded. Burned. Buried.

Stoned to death. Beaten to death. Bled to death. To death!

Death. Death. Death. Death. Simple. Startling. Stinking. Death.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Erotema (e-ro-tem’-a): The rhetorical question. To affirm or deny a point strongly by asking it as a question. Generally, as Melanchthon has noted, the rhetorical question includes an emotional dimension, expressing wonder, indignation, sarcasm, etc.

Who is Putin trying to fool? When is he going to start telling the truth? When are the Russian people going to demand the truth? Today? Tonight? Now!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Eucharistia (eu-cha-ris’-ti-a): Giving thanks for a benefit received, sometimes adding one’s inability to repay.

Thank you for sending me an angel. He has helped me with my substance abuse problem.  Also, on hot nights he cools me off by flapping his wings over my bed and lets me use his halo as a reading light.

Since I’m only a mortal, there’s no way I can ever repay you, but I just want you to know how grateful I am: Hallelujah!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Euche (yoo’-kay): A vow to keep a promise.

YOU: I promise you that I’ll promise you.

ME: Promise me what?

YOU: That I’ll keep the promise I made to you.

ME: Isn’t keeping a promise implied by making a promise?

YOU: I promise, I don’t know.

ME: Goodbye! That’s a promise!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Eulogia (eu-lo’-gi-a): Pronouncing a blessing for the goodness in a person.

Your willingness to risk your life to save our Beanie Baby™ collection is a mystery to us, but we feel blessed. Our mobile home was ablaze. You threw down your bottle of PBR™ and fell through the screen porch, landed on the big black plastic bag, tried to get inside it and yelled, “Damn, it’s filled with Beanie Babies™ and Christmas lights!”

Maurice yelled, “To hell with it! Let it burn!” But you got your foot tangled in the drawstring and courageously dragged the bag behind you as you crawled out through the hole in the torn screen.

Coughing, you yelled, “My ball cap’s on fire, give me a beer!”

We thank you for your tipsy recklessness and the good fortune that tangled your foot in the bag. As a token of our appreciation and mystification, we want to give you these smoked Christmas lights, and a $5.00 Hobby Lobby™ gift certificate.

We know you’ll use the gift certificate the next time you wake up in the Hobby Lobby™ parking lot “the morning after” and need something to do with your hands to get you through another bout of beer flu.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Eustathia (yoos-tay’-thi-a): Promising constancy in purpose and affection.

ME: I am your titanium hip, your gold fillings, your non-biodegradable plastic shopping bag–I am as constant as the smell of Secaucus, the sound of jets taking off from LaGuardia, and the pressure from your parents and friends to get out of town and never come back. Can’t you see what I’m trying to say?

YOU: No.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Eutrepismus (eu-tre-pis’-mus): Numbering and ordering the parts under consideration. A figure of division, and of ordering.

There are supposedly two stages to an organism’s existence: 1. Living. 2. Dying. Nevertheless,  living is dying and dying is living.  There is a third term that addresses the apparent contradiction: Waiting.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Exergasia (ex-er-ga’-si-a): Repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given. A method for amplification, variation, and explanation. As such, exergasia compares to the progymnasmata exercises (rudimentary exercises intended to prepare students of rhetoric for the creation and performance of complete practice orations).

There is no time like the present and there is no present like this time. The present is a present–a present that presents itself as being given until it is remembered, recollected, retraced, and represented at this time vividly eclipsing what could have been.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Exouthenismos (ex-ou-then-is’-mos): An expression of contempt.

You’re even worse than Mitch McConnel.  In fact, you’re not even good enough to swab his drool!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Expeditio (ex-pe-di’-ti-o): After enumerating all possibilities by which something could have occurred, the speaker eliminates all but one (=apophasis). Although the Ad Herennium author lists expeditio as a figure, it is more properly considered a method of argument [and pattern of organization] (sometimes known as the “Method of Residues” when employed in refutation[, and "Elimination Order" when employed to organize a speech. The reference to 'method' hearkens back to the Ramist connection between organizational patterns of discourses and organizational patterns of arguments]).

Me: Why did you get a tattoo of a garage door opener on the right cheek of your butt? Wait, wait, don’t tell me! Knowing you, I think there are three possible reasons: 1. Donny Osmond has one.  I know for a fact that Donny has no tattoos on his butt (check out the YouTube video), so that’s out. 2. Your ‘little friends’ ordered you to do it. You’ve been taking your medication, so that’s out. 3. You acted on random impulse.  Since you’ve spent your life doing things without without considering their consequences (e.g. when you amputated your pinky), I’m going with option 3: random impulse, right?

You: I did what to my butt?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text


Exuscitatio (ex-us-ci-ta’-ti-o): Stirring others by one’s own vehement feeling (sometimes by means of a rhetorical question, and often for the sake of exciting anger).

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? 1 face chord? 10 face chords? 1,000,000 face chords? It’s time to stop asking “if” and get those lazy woodchucks chucking wood! I see too many waddling across the roadways of America! I see too many senselessly squished by motor vehicles! I see too many grazing on gardens when they could be doing something productive–like chucking wood!

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start rounding them up and putting them to work chucking wood in the Great American Northwest forests! And after we get the woodchucks chucking, we’ll go after the beavers–they can cut wood! Instead of destroying the environment with their sloppy looking dams and mosquito infested ponds, they can be put to work with woodchucks: Beavers chew and the chucks chuck!

Chew and chuck! Chew and chuck! Chew and chuck!

Let the People run the sawmills!

Make the woodchucks and beavers do the rest!

Are you with me!!?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).


Gnome (nome or no’-mee): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adageapothegmmaximparoemiaproverb, and sententia.

The truth does not speak for itself.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)


Graecismus (gree-kis’-mus): Using Greek words, examples, or grammatical structures. Sometimes considered an affectation of erudition.

There are more jumbled thoughts slopping around in my head than there are ingredients in Aristophanes’ famous fricassée λοπαδο­τεμαχο­σελαχο­γαλεο­κρανιο­λειψανο­δριμ­υπο­τριμματο­σιλφιο­καραβο­μελιτο­κατακεχυ­μενο­κιχλ­επι­κοσσυφο­φαττο­περιστερ­αλεκτρυον­οπτο­κεφαλλιο­κιγκλο­πελειο­λαγῳο­σιραιο­βαφη­τραγανο­πτερύγων!

Or, given my seemingly endless vexations, the mandate of brevity, and my recourse to a food metaphor, let us just say that I’m a Nutella® case.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).