Tag Archives: rhetoric


Simile (si’-mi-lee): An explicit comparison, often (but not necessarily) employing “like” or “as.”

Higher education in the 21st century at many colleges and universities does not successfully prepare its so-called liberally educated students to negotiate life’s vicissitudes; to negotiate uncertainties and strife with humane voices speaking in the light. Rather, from the “safe spaces” where they reside, they learn how to “take offense,” and how to willy nilly level charges that are always taken seriously, and always will be heard.

Like latter-day nazis, like blood-hungry wolves, they have forged their brutish howling voices into pointed blades of fear, turning “judicial hearings” into monologues where cowering judges have only to decide how, and how much, to punish whomever “some students” may anonymously deride.

Somewhere, this is the culture of academic residential life, where there are no consequences for telling lies. In this community of Kafka houses after every trial, when the gavel grants another win to their revengeful pride, “some students” have been known laugh out loud, smoke a joint, drink a couple of drinks, and piss on the wall of the stone prophylactic euphemistically called “residence hall.”

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


Skotison (sko’-ti-son): Purposeful obscurity.

As I speak, a plan is being planned–a plan so well-planned that its planners plan to be nominated for the “Best Plan Ever Award!”

I can’t give you specifics right now, but I plan on doing so as soon as the planners give me the green light–right now the light’s red, but surely it will turn green, and as soon as it turns green, the plan will be known!

All hail the planners!

For their plan will be wise, and we will be the beneficiaries of the planners’ well-planned plan!


Surely, a bright future awaits us!

We shall be blessed with a plan!

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


Syllepsis (sil-lep’-sis): When a single word that governs or modifies two or more others must be understood differently with respect to each of those words. A combination of grammatical parallelism and semantic incongruity, often with a witty or comical effect. Not to be confused with zeugma: [a general term describing when one part of speech {most often the main verb, but sometimes a noun} governs two or more other parts of a sentence {often in a series}].

You blew up yourself, your local KFC, and your dream of being a meat-loving martyr.

You have besmirched our cause, betrayed Colonel Sanders, and dashed our hope of obtaining endless complimentary $20 Family Fill Ups and XXL soft drinks.

Dr. Bronner’s army of inveterate vegetarians, vegans, sproutarians and other meat-haters will never be defeated by such acts of gross incompetence.

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


Synaloepha (sin-a-lif’-a): Omitting one of two vowels which occur together at the end of one word and the beginning of another. A contraction of neighboring syllables. A kind of metaplasm.

I worry now more than ever.

Brazen sociopaths/seduce their victims: The Peter-Pannish boys that are ‘radicalized’ by the bearded worms that wriggle through the internet, that burrow into young hearts, that tunnel through common sense to gnaw away at conscience, sculpting the delusion they call ‘The Dream Come True.’

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


Synathroesmus (sin-ath-res’-mus): 1. The conglomeration of many words and expressions either with similar meaning (= synonymia) or not (= congeries).  2. A gathering together of things scattered throughout a speech (= accumulatio [:Bringing together various points made throughout a speech and presenting them again in a forceful, climactic way. A blend of summary and climax.])

Swinging in his hammock under the silver moon, he reminded me of a ferret–a nervous, lazy, lounger dreaming of a roosterless chicken coop overflowing with plump, juicy, sweet little slumbering hens.


She flies jets, butchers deer, tends a garden, drinks Jim Beam, wears Honey Oud Eau de Parfum, plays acoustic 12-string guitar, loves fireworks, has a black green-eyed catand fends for herself, and I love her.


The first snow of winter came today. Dreadful, damned, careless snow.

When I was a kid I loved it, played in it, built castles out of it, made money shoveling it, sledded in it, packed it into balls and threw it, made angels in it, poured maple syrup on it and ate it, made snowmen out of it, and never got tired of it.

Now, I have to drive in it and possibly die in it on some lonely stretch of back road hell, spinning sideways over a cliff or flipping over into a ditch, or hitting a tree or a deer staring at me.


Then: Fun and games. Now: old-age and pains.

Joy turns to fear, beaten down year by year by the hammer of being here.

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


Synecdoche (si-nek’-do-kee): A whole is represented by naming one of its parts (or genus named for species), or vice versa (or species named for genus).

I hate the sound of a Kalashnikov on full auto.

Its clanking well-paced whack whack whack so succinctly enunciates a paean of terror, blood, and death.

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


Synonymia (si-no-ni’-mi-a): In general, the use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds emotional force or intellectual clarity. Synonymia often occurs in parallel fashion. The Latin synonym, interpretatio, suggests the expository and rational nature of this figure, while another Greek synonym, congeries, suggests the emotive possibilities of this figure.

My time here is limited, short, and running out. It’s disappearing like a morning haze burnt away by the warmth of the sun.

There is no foretelling, predicting or calculating the future. All that we know is that it will be.

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


Synthesis (sin’-the-sis): An apt arrangement of a composition, especially regarding the sounds of adjoining syllables and words.

I struggle every day with this traumatic century. And sleep comes hard. Always vigilant, always on guard, I fear the unexpected because I don’t know what to expect.  Feeling vulnerable and unprotected I sleep with a brick beneath my pillow, six locks on my door, bars on my windows, and a pit bull on patrol; in control of mauling whatever picks my locks or chops down my flimsy apartment door.

Does anybody else live like me? Behind a tiny peephole with a deeply troubled soul, listening to random gunshots, barking sirens and a blind one-handed neighbor talking all night long? Alone, she babbles on. She longs for love. She longs for God. She longs for noisy war, and always near sunrise, she longs the most for her forever lost Victoria’s Secret thong.

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


Syntheton (sin’-the-ton): When by convention two words are joined by a conjunction for emphasis.

Eggs and bacon

United on a plate.

White and yellow embryos and strips of pinkish flesh.

Break the yolk and bathe the pork in what could have been a bird.

“Isn’t breakfast lovely?”

“Isn’t this weather is absurd?”

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


Synzeugma (sin-zoog’-ma): That kind of zeugma in which a verb joins (and governs) two phrases by coming between them. A synonym for mesozeugma.

The tide went out, and the bottle with a message, a brief ditatribe on fate and hope and coconuts. Standng there in tattered shorts, he started to sing his coconut song and then had second thoughts as the bottle with a message sunk into the waving sea. Feeling no pain, he tore off his tattered shorts and put them on his head again, the castaway’s turban, jaunty on his brow, tickled his neck and reminded him of middle school and flirtations on the playground when up was up, and down was down.

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


Systrophe (si’-stro-fee): The listing of many qualities or descriptions of someone or something, without providing an explicit definition.

Slumped in the sticky slurry. Sick on the pavement–bluish red. Like a carcinoma. Like a cracked piston. Like a nosebleed that’s already bled.

Sobbing like a pig with wide eyes begging for slaughter in the dawn’s early light.

Oh, say can you see?

The loaded handgun is still here: cold gleaming proof that the end is always near.

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

Tapinosis  (ta-pi-no’-sis): Giving a name to something which diminishes it in importance.

So, when is the Volkscheater diesel emissions scandal going to settle? When the fat lady chokes?

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

Tasis (ta’-sis): Sustaining the pronunciation of a word or phrase because of its pleasant sound. A figure apparent in delivery.

Ohhhhhh babeeeee—your lips look like a bright red bow and we knowww what’s gonna happen next!

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


Thaumasmus (thau-mas’-mus): To marvel at something rather than to state it in a matter of fact way.

One Refugee’s Story*

I finally got to Berlin after days of walking and taking buses and trains from somewhere else.

I awoke behind a fence with hundreds of bald-headed men covered in tattoos outside the fence, their right arms outstretched, chanting a German greeting.

I waved back and thanked them.  As I turned around I exclaimed “I am in a refugee camp!”

There were 100s of shiny sweet-smelling Porta-Potties glistening like pearls strung on a royal strand.

“Oh!” I exclaimed.

Jars and jars and jars of Nutella cleverly arranged in the shape of my homeland!

100s of rolls of soft Swiss toilet tissue–a paper Matterhorn nearly touching the blue German sky, silhouetted by hills of freeze-dried spargles forming the backdrop for 100s of galvanized barrels overflowing with foaming beer, sweet apple cider, and peppermint schnapps.

Dazed, I said to myself “Anyway, I am tired of eating flattened squirrels by the roadside, and drinking from small shallow puddles.”

Now, I will never go back to where I came from.

Already, I have learned the German phrase for “I am in paradise.” One of the tattooed bald men taught it to me: Ich gehör da nicht zu.

So, whenever I feel joy and want to express my gratitude I smile broadly and yell: Ich gehör da nicht zu.

The tattooed bald men smile too and cheer me on.

Truly, I have found a new home!

Ich gehör da nicht zu!

Heil Kanzlor Merkel!

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

*Translated by Prof. Hans Schtudentlickenheinerbachen, Hegel Professor of Other Languages, U. of Putzhaben.


Tmesis (tmee’-sis): Interjecting a word or phrase between parts of a compound word or between syllables of a word.

Hilary Clinton on the grill again over Ben-freakin-ghazi. Thanks for another clown show House Republicans.

The Committee’s formula for Select Idiocy:

Seven Bozos + Five Reasonable People + Thirteen Months = -$3,500,000.  Money well-spent; if you like disgusting displays of partisan politics, squandering enough US taxpayer dollars to put a small village through college, and last but not least, vomiting on your TV’s remote control.

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


Topographia (top-o-graf’-i-a): Description of a place. A kind of enargia [: {en-ar’-gi-a} generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description].

Dante did a pretty good job of describing hell.

But there is a hell he never imagined:

15-year-olds sitting in a classroom, eager to learn. Teacher teaching, asking questions, getting spirited well-framed answers. All is well.

Big windows. Brightly polished floors. Sun streams in on a warm Autumn day.

You know what happens next. They didn’t–they were growing, thriving angels filled with wonder and vexed by the awkwardness of being 15–just like we were when we were teens.

Over as fast as a trigger can be pulled: the banging, the flashing, the wounding, the dying.

15 year-olds in a classroom. Broken windows. Blood-stained floors. Sun streams in on a warm Autumn day.

Dreams disintegrate in the warm Autumn air.

Nothing is left but grief, anger, fear, and despair.

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


Traductio (tra-duk’-ti-o): Repeating the same word variously throughout a sentence or thought. Some authorities restrict traductio further to mean repeating the same word but with a different meaning (see ploceantanaclasis, and diaphora), or in a different form (polyptoton). If the repeated word occurs in parallel fashion at the beginnings of phrases or clauses, it becomes anaphora; at the endings of phrases or clauses, epistrophe.

Syrian “child brides” are no longer allowed into the Netherlands accompanying their refugee husbands. “Child brides” seems like an oxymoron, like the famous “jumbo shrimp” or “military intelligence.” Unfortunately, “child bride” is not a figure of speech. Take for example the pregnant 14-year-old who went missing from her 40-year-old husband at one of the Netherlands’ refugees camps. Definitely a child. Definitely a bride  Definitely soon to be a mother.

Upon arrival in the Netherlands, adult husbands and their underage wives (aka child brides) should be divorced and the husbands required to pay alimony and child support for the rest of their lives.

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


Tricolon (tri-co-lon): Three parallel elements of the same length occurring together in a series.

I tasered him. I shot him. I killed him. Oh–I was exonerated by the grand jury–no indictment!

Clearly, to any sane person, I acted in self defense! After all, he punched me twice! The scrappy little 17-year-old boy could’ve killed me with his bare hands, or even taken my gun away from me and shot me because I was sitting on him.

Sadly and tragically and hopefully this child’s death will send a message to all the viciously aggressive, thoughtless, and reckless high beam flashers out there: If you don’t want to be dead on the pavement from seven gunshot wounds, remember,

“Put ’em on high, and you will die!”

That’s a promise.

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


Abating: English term for anesis: adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis (the addition of a concluding sentence that merely emphasizes what has already been stated. A kind of amplification).

There’s a new rapprochement between the ROK and the DPRK!  People can visit their relatives! Land-mines have been decommissioned in the DMZ! Loudspeakers silenced!

Is that all your two countries can do after 60 years of total bullshit?

What’s next, a shared franchise for a Burger King in the DMZ?

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


Abbaser [George] Puttenham’s English term for tapinosis. Also equivalent to meiosis: reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes: deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite).

His hand blown off by the bomb blast, according to the news reporter in Ankara, my friend was “injured.” He isn’t injured, he is maimed for life.

Oh yeah news idiot, he was “injured” by the bomb blast, just like the woman who was standing next to him. Blown to bits, let’s call her terminally wounded.

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


Abecedarian (a-be-ce-da’-ri-an): An acrostic whose letters do not spell a word but follow the order (more or less) of the alphabet.

A bus carrying donkeys emitted foul gawky heehaws.  I jumped! Kecking like my neck orgasmed, pacing quickly, reeling slightly, tripping unquietly, vampishly whumping, xylose-yapping-zapped and blubbering, crashing down, emitting fetid gas, happily I quit this stupid exercise of abecedarian.

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


Accismus (ak-iz’-mus): A feigned refusal of that which is earnestly desired.

What? One-dozen hand-grenades and enough C-4 to blow the doors off the US Embassy? I am truly grateful and humbled by your birthday gifts, but I am unworthy of such magnificent and bountiful offerings. I beg of you, please, take these wonderfully murderous munitions back.  Keep them until I have proven I deserve them.

Oh? You insist? Well in that case, I gratefully accept  your death-dealing gifts! I will put them to good use immediately!

Here! Hot potato!

Ha ha!


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


Acervatio (ak-er-va’-ti-o): Latin term Quintilian employs for both asyndeton (acervatio dissoluta: a loose heap) and polysyndeton (acervatio iuncta: a conjoined heap).

Asyndeton: the omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect.

Stand up, speak, talk, yell, gesture, cry, scream, laugh, cry again–do whatever needs to be done to move the constipated blocks of stinking cheese euphemistically called “the audience.”

Let them know, if they don’t get up and go, another child will cry, and go hungry, and be dehydrated, and fall overboard, and drown, and end up face-down-dead on a beach instead of chasing blue waves and laughing, and eating ice cream, and watching shore birds, and paddling, and swimming to his mother’s outstretched arms!

Polysydeton: employing many conjunctions between clauses, often slowing the tempo or rhythm.

Stand up, speak, talk, yell, gesture, cry, scream,laugh, cry again–do whatever needs to be done to move the constipated blocks of stinking cheese euphemistically called “the audience.”

Let them know, if they don’t get up and go, another child will cry, and go hungry, and be dehydrated, and fall overboard, and drown, and end up face-down-dead on a beach instead of chasing blue waves, and laughing, and eating ice cream, and watching shore birds, and paddling, and swimming to his mother’s outstretched arms!

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


Acoloutha: The substitution of reciprocal words; that is, replacing one word with another whose meaning is close enough to the former that the former could, in its turn, be a substitute for the latter. This term is best understood in relationship to its opposite, anacoloutha.

We are gathered here to mourn the loss of our colleagues and friends.

We are assembled here to show our solidarity with their families, loved ones, and friends.

And finally, we are standing here to show the world that we are not afraid, that our lives will go on even as they are touched by absences and tragic memories.

We live in times already horrific enough when murder, pillage and rape are cloaked in religion, ideology, and nationalism and all the other disguises worn by viscous criminals.

But there is no disguising madness.

There is no disguising the fact that in the USA  demonstrably crazy people have easy access to weapons–to bullets, to triggers, and to their victims who are as innocent and unsuspecting in their daily lives as infants are in their parents’ arms.

We look at each other with tears in our eyes and despair in our hearts. We ask, “Who next? Where next?”

We must answer these questions for our fallen friends, family members, loved ones and colleagues for they are gone forever; silenced, pushed out of our lives by the mad hands of murder.

We must answer “who next” with “nobody.”

We must answer “where next” with “nowhere.”

And together, we must do everything humanly possible to deprive the insane–the mentally mangled narcissists who murder unarmed innocent people–we must do everything humanly possible to deprive them of their bullets, rifles, and pistols and their alleged ‘right’ to bear arms.

So, as we stand together, so we shall talk together, walk together and collectively voice our raging sorrow to those who permit mass murders by arming, by law and by flawed gun control policies, people who should be in psychiatric wards, not on campuses, in hallways, and in classrooms killing teachers, killing students, killing staff people or anybody else they can aim at and shoot at through the beguiling haze of their insanity.

At a minimum we demand a government-funded full psychiatric evaluation, and periodic reevaluation, of every gun owner and every individual who intends to purchase a firearm of any kind for any purpose, from now until the end of time.

We are sick of hearing about seemingly “normal, quiet people” who purchase firearms legally and then use them to commit mass murder.

We must go forward together and agitate, and demonstrate, and never again placate with our votes those who would stand in our way and collude in arming and equipping mentally unbalanced murderers as if they were Ken and Barbie going off to target practice at their favorite shooting range, which may turn out to be the local high school, community college, or university.

May our lost colleagues, family members, spouses, loved ones and friends forever rest in peace.

And, may we never rest until we have our way and clear the future of the suffering, anguish, and pain we feel here today.

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


Acrostic: When the first letters of successive lines are arranged either in alphabetical order (= abecedarian) or in such a way as to spell a word.


Each of you must be more conscious of your diets.

At least make sure to consume the minimal number of calories and practice the exercise regimes recommended to you by our doctors.

This is probably your last chance to overcome your anorexia. 


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