Tag Archives: rhetoric


Metonymy (me-ton’-y-my): Reference to something or someone by naming one of its attributes. [This may include effects or any of the four Aristotelian causes {efficient/maker/inventor, material, formal/shape, final/purpose}.]

I’ll pay with plastic. How much is one round? Do you have balls?

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


Ominatio (o-mi-na’-ti-o): A prophecy of evil.

Lo, I say unto to you: putteth down thine milk that is chocolate and shaken!

Forsake thine onion-crowned patty of steer!

Lo, I say unto you: if you fail to heed my healthful commandments thine tallow clogged heart will halt its pulsing and thou shalt surely becometh deceased!

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


Onedismus (on-e-dis’-mus): Reproaching someone for being impious or ungrateful.

You seem to think you’re the world’s greatest living autodidact! You credit yourself for everything you allegedly know. Have you ever heard of, or used, the words “gratitude” or “grateful” with anybody but your own reflection in a mirror? Whenever you talk about the role of other people in your life and the influence they’ve exerted, you blame them as though they’ve all screwed you up somehow!

The quality of your life would change in a positive way if you could LEARN to recognize the benefits you’ve derived from people who care about you, have nurtured you, and yes, who have taught you!

Who’s the first person you’re going to thank?

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


Onomatopoeia (on-o-mat-o-pee’-a): Using or inventing a word whose sound imitates that which it names (the union of phonetics and semantics).

YOU: I think I can. I think I can. I think can.  Choo-choo. Wah wah.

ME: You’re not a train. Get back in the house! Put your pants on! Give me that conductor’s hat! You’re a disgrace.

YOU: Alllllll aboard! Next stop Rehab City. Allllllll aboard!

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


Optatio (op-ta’-ti-o): Expressing a wish, often ardently.

ME: I wish you would stop making that whistling noise–it’s driving me crazy!!  We’re going to have to get your nose fixed or give you away.

YOU: Don’t talk to Nummy that way. Look, you made him pee on the carpet.

ME: I’m so sorry Nummy. Let’s go to the doggie park so you can play with your friends. Here’s a treat!

YOU: Don’t forget to clean the carpet.

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


Orcos (or’-kos): Swearing that a statement is true.

Z: I swear on a stack of bacon that I did not touch your grill.

X: What about my lawn tractor?

Z: I swear on a pile of mulch that I did not sit on your lawn tractor.

X: What about my hummingbird feeder?

Z: You got me! I poured red nectar on my pancakes and I feel like humming and building a tiny nest.

X: Hello, 911?

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


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).