Tag Archives: elocutio


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).


Hendiadys (hen-di’-a-dis): Expressing a single idea by two nouns [joined by a conjunction] instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force.

Fog and horns accent the trawler’s going, nets wound up, out to haul the night away.

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


Heterogenium (he’-ter-o-gen-i-um): Avoiding an issue by changing the subject to something different. Sometimes considered a vice.

Old Liberal News Reporter (Olnr): Now that you’ve lost the primary election to a college professor, are you considering reading a book or maybe getting an honorary degree somewhere so you’ll have a better chance of winning an election when you come out of hiding in a few years?

Erik Kant (E.K.): Well, Olnr, watch me on TheBlaze TV! 1.00 pm right after Pat & Stu. My program’s called “Still Snooty.” I’ll be doing in-depth analyses of the rise and decline of the American Empire.

Olnr: Isn’t that line of analysis begging the question E.K.?

E.K.: Well Olnr, if you don’t want to end up begging in the streets, call Goldlined Gold Mine today and order your Mind Your Own Business Medallion! Made of five ounces of 100% genuine pure Yellow Lustrium®, the obverse of the medal features a fairly accurate profile of the soon-to-be Emperor of the Republic of Idaho Maximus Convalle Innuo.* The reverse features an image of a plucked eagle and the inscription: “Reparo Aurum.”

Olnr: Hmmm. Uh, well um, we wish you . . .

E.K.: . . . a Merry Christmas? Ho! Ho! Ho! Don’t forget to watch me on Still Snooty! Do yourself and your other self a favor, and order up a bagful of Mind Your Own Business medallions! And whatever you do, don’t tread on me, or thin ice, or the Beltway, or dog poop. Eat lots of red meat and Caesar salad! Stock up on toilet paper, canned goods and roof racks! Reparo aurum! Wear a toga.

Olnr: Uh, ok E.K., whatever you say.  Hey, I hear  sirens coming our way, so I guess it’s time to bring this segment of Left Wing Moderate Brainwash to a close. Any last words for the viewers before you’re “assisted” by our friendly team of Médecins Sans Frontières medics who’ll safely render you to the quiet solitude of the United Nations basement where you will enjoy a brief all expenses paid drug induced coma topped off by a one-week “trip” courtesy of Dr. T’s Learycillin® and a private one-to-one meeting with Noam Chomsky?

E.K.: Well a big YO to all you Frank Buck Power Rangers out there! Until our next incarnation, totsiens and don’t ever forget that SHE wore blue Velveta® gloves and carried a diamond studded Slim Jim® between her teeth. And for that . . .

*Loosely translated: Supreme Glen[n] Beck[on]

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


Homoioptoton (ho-mee-op-to’-ton): The repetition of similar case endings in adjacent words or in words in parallel position.

Note: Since this figure only works with inflected languages, it has often been conflated with homoioteleuton and (at least in English) has sometimes become equivalent to simple rhyme: “To no avail, I ate a snail.”

I have often thought that ‘something’ is like the stuff stuffed in sausages by somebody some place, where vagueness might fill an empty thing that does not sting, that has no weight, that could be a sort of freight shipped on a shadow cast on moving liquid with an underneath beneath it.

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


Homoioteleuton (ho-mee-o-te-loot’-on): Similarity of endings of adjacent or parallel words.

ISIS by the truck full. They struck Mosul and took control almost in the blink of an eye. Everybody’s asking “Why?” Why did the Iraqi security forces drop their guns and start running?  Why didn’t they see it coming when the border with Syria disappeared weeks ago?

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


Horismus (hor-is’-mus): Providing a clear, brief definition, especially by explaining differences between associated terms.

Love: Eternity’s echo resounding in the thump of Jubal’s pulse.  Love surpasses liking as liking surpasses interest, as interest surpasses indifference, as indifference barely surpasses death, devoid of hope and fear, a durable monument to mortality set on a crooked pedestal leaning toward Irony.

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


Hypallage (hy-pal’-la-ge): Shifting the application of words. Mixing the order of which words should correspond with which others. Also, sometimes, a synonym for metonymy (see Quintilian).

His brutish butt hung half-moon over the rampart as he sat on its edge eating a bagful of jellied donuts. Never a model soldier, his rear end stood watch while his drooling eyes surveyed the blots of grease staining his beloved bakery bag.

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


Hyperbaton (hy-per’-ba-ton): 1. An inversion of normal word order. A generic term for a variety of figures involving transposition, it is sometimes synonymous with anastrophe. 2. Adding a word or thought to a sentence that is already semantically complete, thus drawing emphasis to the addition.

My life is desire wanting unfulfilled; paragons, paradigms, prototypes pressed in rushing currents of time the many faces of memory, truth, anxiety and opinion shimmer changing into each other in the sparkling dimness of deceasing, and finally disappearing entirely fulfilled by the corpse.

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