Tag Archives: rhetoric

Apodixis

Apodixis (a-po-dix’-is): Proving a statement by referring to common knowledge or general experience.

There is no way I took your Apple Watch. What the heck would I do with it? I don’t even have an iPad, let alone an Apple-anything. You know I hate Apple–I’m close friends with Bob Gates for crying out loud!

We’ve been friends since high school–that’s 35 years! Have I ever taken anything from you ever? No! Why would I start now?

Do you think I need to steal stuff to sell to make money? Come on, I make $650,000 per year. Even if your watch was the $15,000 model, I could buy a dozen and throw them at homeless people on freeway on-ramps just for kicks!

Jeez!  If this is such a big deal, I’ll even buy you a new one!

OK? Settled?

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

Apophasis

Apophasis (a-pof’-a-sis): The rejection of several reasons why a thing should or should not be done and affirming a single one, considered most valid.

Should I get another tattoo?

1. No. Three are enough.

2. No. My wife will hit me with a garden tool.

3. No. I’m too old for another tattoo.

So, I guess not.

Hmmm. Wait a minute–I’ve changed my mind. I really, really, really want another tattoo, and wanting another one is a good enough reason for me.

Why else would you get a tattoo?

Now, I’ve got to figure out what it’s going to be and where to put it. Major challenge.

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

Apoplanesis

Apoplanesis (a-po-plan’-e-sis): Promising to address the issue but effectively dodging it through a digression.

Question: What is your concept of truth?

Answer: Truth! Ah, yes. Well, I can answer that and truthfully too.  Ha Ha.

Now, concepts can be vexing especially when we try to pin down what exactly a concept is, and a ‘concept’ of truth–woo: Truth in Italics, Truth in Bold Face, Truth underlined, Capital T Truth, lowercase t truth, or “truth” in quotation marks? So many ways of saying, displaying, and delivering the T word.

But.

Truth is not about fonts, faces, upper- and lower-cases, or quotation marks. Truth is trusting, just as much as it is actual.

So, truth is like going out on a limb & when the limb snaps & when you hit the ground–the solid, hard, unforgiving ground–no leaves, go grass, no flowers, no bumblebees, puppies, pillows, or trampolines–just bare-naked earth–you wonder: Did I just hit the earth or did the earth hit me? As you wonder, you realize you’re unconscious, and being conscious of being unconscious, you know what truth is.

Right?

Now, let’s go back to watching “Game of Thrones.”

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

Aporia

Aporia (a-po’-ri-a): 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 [=diaporesis].

How many hummingbirds can dance on the head of a large corporation?

On South Carolina?

On Patterson, New Jersey?

On a small cafeteria-sized bowl of Jello?

On a tennis court?

Under an umbrella?

But hummingbirds can’t dance.

Well, there you have it dance-wise, but what about sit-wise, stand-wise, or even hover-over-wise?

Be patient. Rome wasn’t built out of hummingbirds, and it took more than a couple of weeks. That’s why all roads lead to Rome, but you can’t make a horse drink.

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

Aposiopesis

Aposiopesis (a-pos-i-o-pee’-sis): Breaking off suddenly in the middle of speaking, usually to portray being overcome with emotion.

You what? You ran over our pet rabbit? You mean Little Bill–Billy’s . . . You monster. You murderer. Little Billy is dead and you killed him.

You were always jealous of Little Billy’s ‘special place’ on my lap and the cute squealing noises he made when I scratched his big fluffy ears.

The only time you ever squealed was when you fell off the front porch with martini number four in your hand.  I was hoping the toothpick in the olive poked your eye out, but it was the little pile of bunny poops you landed in that made you squeal.

Damn you. Get a paper bag and a shovel and I’ll meet you by the apple tree. Little Billy loved apples and I loved Little Billy. Damn you.

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

Apostrophe

Apostrophe (a-pos’-tro-phe): Turning one’s speech from one audience to another. Most often, apostrophe occurs when one addresses oneself to an abstraction, to an inanimate object, or to the absent.

Truth.

What is your point?

To set me free?

To enslave me?

Truth.

What is your measure?

Sincerity?

Fact?

Consensus?

Authority?

Truth.

You are a belief without a conscience.

Now, you are present.

Now you are not.

Truth.

Outside of time, outside of circumstances, your invocation is a ruse; a magic trick; a catastrophe; a blinding light; a moonless, starless, skyless night.

No firmament

No ground.

No up or down.

No Truth

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

Apothegem

Apothegm (a’-po-th-e-gem): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, gnomemaximparoemiaproverb, and sententia.

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of revenge.” Ralph Dubya Emerson (The Over-Sole: Under-Where?)

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

Appositio

Appositio (ap-po-sit’-i-o): Addition of an adjacent, coordinate, explanatory or descriptive element.

The long night has drawn to a close. That is, the rioting, the burning, and the looting are past us. Baltimore’s fires are extinguished, the liquor stores are emptied, and most people have gone home .

While that’s true, a new day is just beginning–a day wide-open with recriminations, apologies, accusations, encomia, vituperation and every other kind of voiced interest that may have influenced judgments of what motivated last night’s unrest.

The diversity of conflicted narratives about Baltimore is not unusual. Strife is rife with difference and the vexed narratives flow from standpoints. People speak, often unconscious of being situated somewhere within the universe of deeply-cultured sensibilities–a universe with no center.

Rather, people experience, inhabit and are divided and identified  by their named ethno-centers. These “centers” are distinguished and divided by their ways of knowing, being, believing, and valuing that, ironically, are more or less opaque and unintelligible even to their inhabitants who, by imputation and avowal bear, are categorized by, and judged by their ethno-center’s name.

Yet, while there is no center, the spaces or border areas between the centers provide sites, the only sites, for enabling relationships between them.  It is what is between US–our relationship–that is negotiated and constituted when we meet and talk or fight at the ethno-categorical borders. WE are responsible for the affect of that relationship on the quality of OUR lives–not my life, not your life.

From the outside, to the inside, to the borderlands, what’s most important right now–at this time and place–is the borderland and the space it provides to constitute something good for US, and WE have the power to make it right by what we say and how we say it to each other today.  We must acknowledge this and build something good together and WE may want to name it “OUR desire for peace and justice.”

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

Articulus

Articulus (ar-tic’-u-lus): Roughly equivalent to “phrase” in English, except that the emphasis is on joining several phrases (or words) successively without any conjunctions (in which case articulus is simply synonymous with the Greek term asyndeton). See also brachylogia.

Articulus is also best understood in terms of differing speeds of style that depend upon the length of the elements of a sentence. The Ad Herennium author contrasts the the slower speed of concatenated membra (see membrum) to the quicker speed possible via articulus.

China. Yemen. Syria.

Hacking. Bombing. Destroying.

One word, one meaning?

Or do they all add up to a planet that’s bleeding?

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

Aschematiston

Aschematiston: The use of plain, unadorned or unornamented language. Or, the unskilled use of figurative language. A vice. [Outside of any particular context of use or sense of its motive, it may be difficult to determine what’s “plain, unadorned or unornamented language.” The same is true of the “unskilled use of figurative language.”]

1. You smell.

2. Your tailwind is a foulwind!

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

Asphalia

Asphalia (as-fay’-li-a): Offering oneself as a guarantee, usually for another.

Jeez! He’s just a kid! If you have to blame somebody, blame me. But please, leave my little brother alone. I’ll get your Glock back from him and ground him for 10 years! He’s too stupid to take the blame. I’ll take the hit.

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

Assonance

Assonance (ass’-o-nance): Repetition of similar vowel sounds, preceded and followed by different consonants, in the stressed syllables of adjacent words.

All along the way, from tomorrow, to today, to yesterday I’ve come to see that my life is a broken promise–a promise I made to us to trust and care and always be there–like some vapid Valentine’s Day card mailed by fate and delivered too late to make me love you, the truth is, you bore me more than death.

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

Assumptio

Assumptio (as-sump’-ti’o): The introduction of a point to be considered, especially an extraneous argument. See proslepsis (When paralipsis [stating and drawing attention to something in the very act of pretending to pass it over] is taken to its extreme. The speaker provides full details.).

Today, I’m not going to talk about Sen. Cruz’s apparent insanity, Mitt Romney’s chronic indecision, or more generally, the Republican party’s cadre of nut-cases and the nearly intractable Congressional conflicts they have consistently created. Why bother to even mention their weirdness? It is, as they say “water under the bridge.” Or, more accurately, a bridge that will be under the water and washed away by the floods by discontent rolling across our nation.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if, on New Years Eve 2016, it started raining frogs on Arizona and Texas, with, of course, the 15th, 16th and 19th Texas Congressional districts being spared!

No, today I want to talk about the next President of the United States. She . . .

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

Asteismus

Asteismus (as-te-is’-mus): Polite or genteel mockery. More specifically, a figure of reply in which the answerer catches a certain word and throws it back to the first speaker with an unexpected twist. Less frequently, a witty use of allegory or comparison, such as when a literal and an allegorical meaning are both implied.

Marlin: This is the worst sandwich I’ve ever had!

Pat: You should’ve ordered the wurst like me. This is the best wurst I’ve ever had. Too bad your sandwich is the worst!

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

Astrothesia

Astrothesia (as-tro-the’-si-a): A vivid description of stars. One type of enargia.

Stars are heaven’s asterisks. Bright reference marks spangling night’s page, spanning it with lights. 

And after dark’s dark hours, stars yield to the sun’s single light. Then, they float on twilight’s tide toward the rising page of night.

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

Asyndeton

Asyndeton (a-syn’-de-ton): The omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect. [Compare brachylogia. Opposite of polysyndeton.]

Run! Run! Run! Down! Down! Hurry! Run! Down! Hurry!

Museum, mall, mosque.

Main Street, temple, church.

Police station, train station, bus station.

Cafe, concert, public park.

Morning, daylight, evening, dark.

Doesn’t matter.

Pop Pop Pop

People cry.

People die.

People scatter.

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

Auxesis

Auxesis (ok-see’-sis): (1) Arranging words or clauses in a sequence of increasing force. In this sense, auxesis is comparable to climax and has sometimes been called incrementum.  (2) A figure of speech in which something is referred to in terms disproportionately large (a kind of exaggeration or hyperbole). (3) Amplification in general.

(1) See. Look. Like. Gaze. Love. Laugh. Cry. Turn. Go. (Repeat weekly for maximal heartache)

(2) My toothless aspirations chew the air behind my little cardboard sign: I am a beacon. I am a bucket. I am a pylon as high as Mars.

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

Bdelygmia

Bdelygmia (del-ig’-mi-a): Expressing hatred and abhorrence of a person, word, or deed.

Acronym: an alphabet-letter compress pressed against the babble on.

Acronym: what drips from brevity’s rotted gash.

Acronym: a train of letters delivering secret cargo.

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

Bomphiologia

Bomphiologia (bom-phi-o-lo’-gi-a): Exaggeration done in a self-aggrandizing manner, as a braggart.

I am the sparks in life’s fire.

I am the headless race car driver.

I butcher the beef. I am the leaf. Roll me. Light me.

I am the cure for all your pain. I am thunder naming your name:

“Tantric Smoke. Cosmic Joke. Belly Tomb. Worn Eraser. Beetle Chaser.”

In all my love,

I am your shadow. I am your fear. I am the magic that brought you here.

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

Brachylogia

Brachylogia (brach-y-lo’-gi-a): The absence of conjunctions between single words. Compare asyndeton. The effect of brachylogia is a broken, hurried delivery.

Trust me. I am your ambulance. Cane! Crutch! Wheelchair! Everything that shows I care. Electric chair. Firing squad. Beneficent God. iPod. Oatmeal. Black Seal. Golden rod. Ping pong. Overdose. Comatose. Medicare.

Now mom, here we go. With the Flow. Petroleum rivers. Gasoline falls. Diesel cataracts. Flaming gush.

You sign the waiver. I’ll pull the plug. Hush hush. No rush.

Here’s the pen.

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

Cacozelia

Cacozelia (ka-ko-zeel’-i-a): 1. A stylistic affectation of diction, such as throwing in foreign words to appear learned.  2. Bad taste in words or selection of metaphor, either to make the facts appear worse or to disgust the auditors.

Ecru! Ecru! How I adore you! Très jolieТы такая красивая! A light stain–like amarillo, like rubio, like ámbar cautioning the brown to beware: to slow the faint stripe growing on my otherwise bright, purely white, Calvin Klein underwear.

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

Catachresis

Catachresis (kat-a-kree’-sis): The use of a word in a context that differs from its proper application. This figure is generally considered a vice; however, Quintilian defends its use as a way by which one adapts existing terms to applications where a proper term does not exist.

You need to hammer that water! Swim! Swim!

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

Catacosmesis

Catacosmesis (kat-a-kos-mees’-is): Ordering words from greatest to least in dignity, or in correct order of time.

The fire ignites and speaks in fierce crackling flames. But now in the darkness its silent ashes are all that remain.

Time is a knife that shaves us away until nothing is left but a sliver in bed.

Fearing the silence, the dawn, day, and night, I moan at the wall, “There is no Phoenix. There is no cure. Bring me water and morphine and vodka and meat and wrap my dead body in a fine golden sheet.”

The wall doesn’t answer. The wall doesn’t care. The wall is a wall. It just stands there.

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

Cataphasis

Cataphasis (kat-af’-a-sis): A kind of paralipsis in which one explicitly affirms the negative qualities that one then passes over.

“Once again, right here, tonight, live on CNN, I am not going to ask Mitch McConnel how he managed to lose control of the Senate and put our nation’s security at risk. I’m not even going to ask him why he has such disrespect for federal employees and such a dysfunctional relationship with the Speaker of the House. I won’t even ask him how he managed to almost lose his last reelection bid.

I’m pretty sure CNN’s viewers already know the answers to those questions!

Now, you asked whether I am going to run for President of the United State of America? That, my friend, you’ll have to ask my psychiatrist! She’s the one who monitors my meds and ties me down at night.”

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

Cataplexis

Cataplexis (kat-a-pleex’-is): Threatening or prophesying payback for ill doing.

You left me stranded in the twilight zone somewhere between fire and ice, sugar and spice, nothing good and nothing nice.

Now, I’m parked in a ditch waiting for dawn, somewhere between Hell and your front lawn.  When the sun comes up, you are going down, and just like the light, I won’t make a sound.

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