Oxymoron (ox-y-mo’-ron): Placing two ordinarily opposing terms adjacent to one another. A compressed paradox.

Ukraine is the victim of a proxy invasion. Russia is joyously worried. The UK is boldly hesitant. The US is sharply unfocused. The EU is coldly boiling. NATO is inactively springing into inactivity. The UN is filing for bankruptcy.

What’s next?

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


Paenismus (pai-nis’-mus): Expressing joy for blessings obtained or an evil avoided.

Oh Botox! You maketh my brow to rise upward. You restoreth my visage. Yea, tho I walk in the shadow of the valley of wrinkles I feel pretty good.

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


Palilogia (pa-li-lo’-gi-a): Repetition of the same word, with none between, for vehemence. Synonym for epizeuxis.

Blah! Blah! Blah! All day long.  Blah! Blah! Blah! I could do for some yack yack! How about a little yack yack?

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


Parabola (par-ab’-o-la): The explicit drawing of a parallel between two essentially dissimilar things, especially with a moral or didactic purpose. A parable.

The crocus is the first to bloom and the first to wither.

Accordingly, sometimes being last is best.

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


Paragoge (par-a-go’-ge): The addition of a letter or syllable to the end of a word. A kind of metaplasm.

Fox News follows the principle of Foxspindoxa: The expectation that anchor Bill O’Reilly’s spin will be echoed day and night by network affiliates for a minimum of 12 hours, and/or be immediately replaced when a concurrent spin is spun by Bill within the 12-hour period.

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

Paralipsis (par-a-lip’-sis): Stating and drawing attention to something in the very act of pretending to pass it over (see also cataphasis). A kind of irony.

I am not going to mention the fact that you had a bag full of Russian rubles and a half-eaten kulebyáka when you were caught throwing rocks at the Luhansk Security Services Building yesterday. The tattoo of shirtless Putin driving a tank on the back of your neck isn’t worth mentioning either. Why should we believe you’re a hired provocateur? Unthinkable! Impossible!

Take him back to his cell!

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


Paramythia (pa-ra-mee’-thi-a): An expression of consolation and encouragement.

So, you didn’t change the world overnight. But, there’s a difference between overnight and over a lifetime. Set your vision farther forward and follow the path of giants–of Mahatma, Martin, and Nelson; of Aung, Corazon, and Nadezhda and the all the women and men who made it their life’s work to work for social, political, and economic change. Now, adjust your vision and get back to work. The future is undetermined.  Time is on your side.

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


Paraprosdokian: A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase [or series = anticlimax] is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe the first part. . . . For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists. An especially clever paraprosdokian not only changes the meaning of an early phrase, but also plays on the double meaning of a particular word.(1)

Give every man your ear but not thy finger.

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1. “Paraprosdokian.” WikipediaThe Free Encyclopedia. 4 Jan 2008, 03:30 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 9 Jan 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraprosdokian>.


Paregmenon (pa-reg’-men-on): A general term for the repetition of a word or its cognates in a short sentence. Often, but not always, polyptoton.

Bound by faith, we are bound by a common dream! Our dream is  our hope, and our “hope is the expectation of victory.”

Today we dream of liberation. Tomorrow we will awaken freedom! Tomorrow we will stand in the light of justice, see truth manifest and feel the unfathomable joy of of being free!

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


Pareuresis (par-yur-ee’-sis): To put forward a convincing excuse. [Shifting the blame.]

I just started as CEO of General Mortars. There is no way I had access to any information regarding defective ignition pins prior to September 1, 2014. You should be querying my predecessor who now works for General Mortals–the company that makes four-wheeled coffins.

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


Paroemia (pa-ri’-mi-a): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, gnome, maxim, proverb, and sententia.

“No pain. No gain.” Anon.

“No rain. No grain.” Old MacDougal (Had a Farm c. 1917)

“Beggars can’t be choosers.” Anon.

“Choosers can be beggars.” A.B. ‘One Ear’ Dale, Licensed Beggar by Stat. xxii. Hen. VIII. c. 1512.

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


Paroemion (par-mi’-on): Alliteration taken to an extreme where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant. Sometimes, simply a synonym for alliteration or for homoeoprophoron [a stylistic vice].

Pretty pictures portraying perky popsicles parading past peerless pawnshops parasitically peddling punters peacoats, penknives,  peepholes, pigweeds, pontoons, porky polywogs, and postpaid pickles.

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Paromoiosis (par-o-moy-o’-sis): Parallelism of sound between the words of adjacent clauses whose lengths are equal or approximate to one another. The combination of isocolon and assonance.

How many  hearts are torn and broken?

How many hearths mourn the forsaken?

Salty tears. Empty chairs. Absence. Conscience.

The whole world cares.

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


Paromologia (par-o-mo-lo’-gi-a): Conceding an argument, either jestingly and contemptuously, or to prove a more important point. A synonym for concessio.

You’re right! You caught me! I did it. I flushed your death meth bye bye down the toilet. You’re lucky you didn’t end up there first. Now it’s time for another even more expensive life-changing experience. It’s called REHAB! Pack your crap. I’m calling a cab.

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


Paronomasia (pa-ro-no-ma’-si-a): Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning).

I’m itching for some fuzzy math. No–scratch that! Today, I’m going to satisfy my constant craving by going straight to  linear equations!

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


Parrhesia (par-rez’-i-a): Either to speak candidly or to ask forgiveness for so speaking. Sometimes considered a vice.

I’m sorry. I don’t know how to tell you. Larry has disappeared from his cage. The door was open and his hamster wheel was spinning, but no Larry. I bet he’s a happy hammie snuggled in your laundry basket.

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


Pathopoeia ( path-o-poy’-a): A general term for speech that moves hearers emotionally, especially as the speaker attempts to elicit an emotional response by way of demonstrating his/her own feelings (exuscitatio). Melanchthon explains that this effect is achieved by making reference to any of a variety of pathetic circumstances: the time, one’s gender, age, location, etc.

Being careful not to slip and fall down on what’s left of my neighbor next door, I continue my walk and follow my thoughts about death, my career, my car, last summer’s vacation, my flat screen TV, and my mother, daughter, and wife who ran beneath the tracer fire last night as it stitched up the sky with its thread of red, brighter than the dark puddle of blood collecting in the gutter and reflecting my dread.

I turn. I howl. I vomit.

My family is dead.

You call it war. I call it endless sorrow and pain. You call it just. I call it criminally insane.

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


Perclusio (per-clu’-si-o): A threat against someone, or something.

If you don’t stop yelling, I’m going to start yelling, and when I start yelling your head is going to explode.

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


Periergia (pe-ri-er’-gi-a): Overuse of words or figures of speech. As such, it may simply be considered synonymous with macrologia. However, as Puttenham’s term suggests, periergia may differ from simple superfluity in that the language appears over-labored.

We’re trying to make bacon without a pig, paint the house with a flame thrower, and make paper dolls with steak knives on a roller coaster.

Got it?

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


Period: The periodic sentence, characterized by the suspension of the completion of sense until its end. This has been more possible and favored in Greek and Latin, languages already favoring the end position for the verb, but has been approximated in uninflected languages such as English. [This figure may also engender surprise or suspense--consequences of what Kenneth Burke views as 'appeals' of information.]

The only thing(s) that matter(s) in life beyond the mundane hum of human existence await(s) our discovery in the rippling multiverse of being-at-once one and many, peering over the prison wall of contradiction, maddened by the parched diamond-bright  presence of everything stretching through time toward nothing-at-all and snapping.

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


Periphrasis (per-if’-ra-sis): The substitution of a descriptive word or phrase for a proper name (a species of circumlocution); or, conversely, the use of a proper name as a shorthand to stand for qualities associated with it. (Circumlocutions are rhetorically useful as euphemisms, as a method of amplification, or to hint at something without stating it.)

I wish Put-in would Pull-out before things get out of hand in Crimea! If there was a clearly focused Camer-on, there would probably be better news from Ukraine.

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


Personification: Reference to abstractions or inanimate objects as though they had human qualities or abilities. The English term for prosopopeia (pro-so-po-pe’-i-a) or ethopoeia (e-tho-po’-ia): the description and portrayal of a character (natural propensities, manners and affections, etc.).

Jimi Hendrix is telling me “The wind cried Mary.”  I don’t know about that, but I’ve heard the moon burp and say “I’m full.” The moon is impolite.

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


Polyptoton (po-lyp-to’-ton): Repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.

I like to like what I like to like. Why? Because liking what I like is likely to make me happy! Just imagine if I didn’t like what I like at the same time as I like it.  That is, one may like something in one sense, but not like it in another.  I’d rather like what I like in every sense! Does that make sense? Or do I look like a fool?

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


Polysyndeton (pol-y-syn’-de-ton): Employing many conjunctions between clauses, often slowing the tempo or rhythm. (Asyndeton is the opposite of polysyndeton: an absence of conjunctions.)

We saw the problem clearly, and we made a plan to fix it, and we found a way to capture the resources to enable the plan’s implementation, and we implemented the plan, and after all we said, and all we did, we did have our hope fulfilled, and after 18 years of struggle our lives have returned to normal, and our community, our beautiful community, is restored.

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Procatalepsis (pro-cat-a-lep’-sis): Refuting anticipated objections.

We say diplomacy and an infusion of a few billion Euro will save the day. A negotiated diplomatic solution to the current crisis is certainly more beneficial in the long run than running across the border waving M-16s and NATO banners. The first shot fired toward the East may be the last shot ever fired by anybody ever, given the nukes aimed at Europe and Putin’s red-hot paranoia.

About the the money: No Euro, no economic recovery, no Ukraine. A few billion is a relatively small price to pay to keep a sovereign democracy on the western frontier of freedom functioning while it regroups and regains its fiscal strength. We trust in Ukraine’s future–a future free from the clutches of border bending criminals and safe in the embrace of the European Union. 

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