Coenotes (cee’-no-tees): Repetition of two different phrases: one at the beginning and the other at the end of successive paragraphs. Note: Composed of anaphora and epistrophe, coenotes is simply a more specific kind of symploce (the repetition of phrases, not merely words).

I am the unknown reason for your undoing.

I am the lash that will foment, advance, and ensure your undoing.

I am the stealthy vector that will deliver and infect you with your undoing.

I am the undertaker that will bury you deep in the dirt and litter of your undoing.

You may be asking, “Why?” It is my hobby to ruin people’s lives. I have wealth. I have good looks. I am glib. I am eloquent. I am easily able to entrap and seduce people like you: discontented, ignored by the people who should love you, looking for a thrill; feeling old, resentful, and ready for a change. Given my seductive skills and monetary resources, it is almost too easy. You’re the 61st woman I have destroyed—31 married and 30 in committed relationships—you’re number 31 in the married category. And what’s really funny is that my hobby isn’t illegal! As long as I don’t blackmail or extort, I’m good to go. Adultery is legal, but clearly, there can be severe penalties.

Go ahead and call me all the names you want to call me. It’ll give me a laugh: bastard, MFer, asshole, blah, blah blah. The deed is done, and it came up “unfaithful bitch” for you, baby. I’ll be calling your husband in a few minutes. What will he do, forgive you? Ha ha! Dump you? Put you out on the street? Beat you? I’m betting on dump you.

What’s that?


You bitch. Call 911. I’m . . .

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Colon (ko’-lon): Roughly equivalent to “clause” in English, except that the emphasis is on seeing this part of a sentence as needing completion, either with a second colon (or membrum) or with two others (forming a tricolon). When cola (or membra) are of equal length, they form isocolon.

I am mystified. Nothing of the past is left knowable to me. I wander without memories, trekking across now without then, when, where, or why.

I know I am lost. Living in a deep trance. I have been legally certified.

I am medicated. I am eradicated. I am insane.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Comparatio (com-pa-ra’-ti-o): A general term for a comparison, either as a figure of speech or as an argument. More specific terms are generally employed, such as metaphor, simile, allegory, etc.

The bottom is like the top—a terminal point in the world of up and down. Up and down are value-laden words—as George Lakoff tells us, “up is good, down is bad.” Throwing up. Growing up. Showing up. Blowing up. Screwing up. Turning up. All these “up words” can represent a range of values on the good-bad continuum. I don’t see how screwing up can be a good thing. I guess blowing up can go either way, depending on the context. For example, blowing up an inflatable adult doll can be a good thing for those who find them attractive. But blowing up your home might be a bad thing, unless it is a planned demolition. Also, the same goes for the doll: if it’s being blown up as evidence in divorce court, then, it can be seen as a bad thing for its owner. Context matters more than the words in determining their good-bad valence. But of course, you need the words to make meanings.

What about down? Down the hatch. Down the road. Down to the beach. Downtown. Down and dirty. Down and out. Down my spine. So, down is less nuanced than up. I don’t know what that means beyond an abundance of the negative attaching to “down.” I like “get down” quite a bit. It reminds me of the 70s when it was a key catch phrase among cool people. It was usually yelled at disco dancers wearing white disco suits, male or female high-heeled shoes, and males, with unbuttoned shirts showing off five-feet of gold chain coiled around their necks. There was cocaine snorted and pot smoked by everybody in the disco joints. Everybody got down! Sometimes that did include falling down and passing out on he floor, but the “faller downers” were quickly dragged out the back door where they would usually be robbed of their wallets and high-heeled shoes, and sent home in cabs.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve misrepresented Lakoff here. Basically, he says that metaphors (which are comparisons) provide us with our orientation toward life. So when you’re “fit as a fiddle” you should be “happy as a clam.” As a violin with mollusk-like sentiments, get down! You’re di-nohmite!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Comprobatio (com-pro-ba’-ti-o): Approving and commending a virtue, especially in the hearers.

Ladies and gentlemen, my praise for you is as boundless as my golf handicap, my hair, and my hatred of Hilary Clinton who should’ve been locked up in Guantanamo with the other war criminals and terrorists. What a disgrace that she’s walking the streets and defaming me.

But you, you, you! You are brilliant and on the right side of history! Some of you have done, or will do, time in jail for your loyalty to what Bill Barr has called “BS.” It takes special people to risk their lives and futures for BS, like the Vietnam War, which my painful bone spurs kept me from serving in. But you, you, you, you’re out there on the front line chanting the brilliant rallying cry: “Stop the steal,” a rallying cry made up by a woman school bus driver from Another Lake, Minnesota. It caught on and you picked it up as you rallied at the Capital Building, with bullhorns, baseball bats and bear spray. Brilliant! Although the coup failed, you did a lot of damage, killed at least one person, and showed the libtards who’s boss. I commend you.

And me! I was your spiritual guide, your guru, and the voice of your consciences, but the little innocuous barely audible speech I gave that day was just me saying what I thought about the election. To think it could prompt an insurrection, is like believing the music from an ice cream truck can make people follow the truck around. I am not responsible for anything that happened on 1/6. It was you Trumpers. You planned it. You executed it. You did it all: everything that happened on 1/6 was due to you and you alone. I wish I had grabbed a bullhorn and joined the crowd, but my bone spurs were killing me, and I could barely walk.

2024’s just around the corner. Just in case: keep your baseball bats clean, your bullhorn batteries fresh, and have an ample supply of bear spray on hand. The Democrats will steal the election again. If you want to make America great again, be prepared.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Conduplicatio (con-du-pli-ca’-ti-o): The repetition of a word or words. A general term for repetition sometimes carrying the more specific meaning of repetition of words in adjacent phrases or clauses. Sometimes used to name either ploce or epizeuxis.

I decided to get away—to get away from it all. “It all” was my job. I worked in a breakfast cereal mill operating the flake-pounder, pounding away, flattening flakes and moving them down the line on a dirty old conveyer belt that’s been moving cereal flakes since cereal flakes were invented somewhere in Michigan hundreds of years ago. I’d been running the same flake-pounder since I graduated from high school—that was 16 years ago. Even though I could have all the breakfast cereal I wanted, that just wasn’t good enough any more. Last year, I started eating scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast—breakfast that should’ve been cereal, but I didn’t care any more. I was breaking away. So, here I am holding a yard sale, a week before my official resignation. My boss shows up and sees the cereal bowl I was awarded for “ten years of loyal service.” It’s up for sale for twenty-five cents. He looks at me like I should be dead, and buys the bowl. He throws it on the sidewalk and it shatters into fragments, one of which hits my neighbor Barbara in the forehead. She screams in pain and my boss starts running to his car, which isn’t easy—he’s 5’ 6” and weighs around 300 lbs. Suddenly, he made a grunting sound and fell writhing to the ground. He dropped his car keys. I saw my chance. I motioned to Barbara, I grabbed the keys off the ground, and we got in Boss’s Maserati and took off. We stopped at a convenience store for supplies. When I opened the trunk to put the groceries away, we saw a large suitcase. I opened it. It was filled with hundred-dollar bills. There was also a photo of the boss standing behind a table piled high with cocaine. That’s when we decided our future was set. We had evidence that would put the boss away forever. We knew he couldn’t report what had happened on my lawn—he would be nailed. Barbara and I hugged, got back in the boss’s Maserati, and took off for the tropics, AKA Key West, where we were married, lived, and had three lovely children.

Barbara passed away three years ago. Our children are grown, and successful with families of their own. You are reading this now because I have passed and left a provision in my will that this story be made public so people can see that sometimes crime pays. With me and Barbara it all happened on the spur of the moment. If we had planned it, we would probably have been caught. Thanks Boss!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Congeries (con’ger-eez): Piling up words of differing meaning but for a similar emotional effect [(akin to climax)].

Big. Medium. Small. Short. Tiny. Microscopic. Who cares? How did size get connected to so many things? Larger than life. Big time. Huge. Big as a house. Colossal. Size matters, even if it doesn’t matter. But it does! It does too much. I have a foot-long penis. It is a blessing a curse. When I talk about it, most people find it fascinating. I’m happy about that until I get questions like, “Couldn’t you make a lot of money in an adult circus sideshow?” “Do you have a cam-site?” I prefer questions like “How do you stuff it in your pants?” “Has it made you more confident?” “Does it keep you from playing any sports?”

I remember when I became aware of my bigness. My father joined me up with the YMCA when I was ten. Back then, naked swimming was the norm. I was late and all the boys were lined up naked by the pool when I got there. I saw their tiny dinks and knew I was special. But, I left for fear I’d be teased. I don’t know why my father did that to me, but I thought that he might have a big honker too and wanted to toughen me to teasing. My suspicion was confirmed when my dad died and the mortician felt obligated to tell us what was there. If the penis museum in Iceland was open at the time, his giant wang would be floating in a jar in Reykjavik.

I could write a book about my gargantuan pecker. It has defined me and given me my orientation toward life. Next time you’re eating a wiener on the 4th of July or Labor Day, put some mustard on it and think of me.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Consonance: The repetition of consonants in words stressed in the same place (but whose vowels differ). Also, a kind of inverted alliteration, in which final consonants, rather than initial or medial ones, repeat in nearby words. Consonance is more properly a term associated with modern poetics than with historical rhetorical terminology.

Here at Lop and Chop we fill all your firewood needs. Pine kindling gets it going. Maple makes the fire really burn. Redwood kills the smoke, and oak keeps it going all night long. We’ve been clear-cutting here since my ancestors “bought” this land from the Indians in 1840. There’s only about 10 acres of forest left. Half of it is redwoods, so that’ll give us a year here to sell firewood. When that goes, we’re going to make this an ATV and trail bike course. Also we’re going to do an annual “Bull Pull” where drivers pull bulls behind their ATVs in a race down the mountain, speaking of which, the mountain has already become a choice venue for “Erosion Riders” competitions, where drivers have to surmount ruts and gulleys to make it down the denuded mountain to the finish line. On the way down, they are required to scoop up a handful of mud and hit Rachel Carson’s statue with it as they roar by.

You can take out a firewood subscription if you like, but don’t talk too much about the redwoods, please. So, our motto says it all: “Yearn to Burn? Lop and Chop Will Light Your Fire.”

Damn! Here comes those tree-hugging losers who want to shut us down. Get out the chainsaws. Rev ‘em up and hold ‘em high.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Enter your own example in the comments box!


Correctio (cor-rec’-ti-o): The amending of a term or phrase just employed; or, a further specifying of meaning, especially by indicating what something is not (which may occur either before or after the term or phrase used). A kind of redefinition, often employed as a parenthesis (an interruption) or as a climax.

I did not have a banjo on my knee when I went to Louisiana. “Knee” rhymes with “see,” as in “My true love for to see.” I was drunk (not totally drunk) when I wrote the song. I was shocked when it became popular and was sung in bars and roadhouses around America. The first time I sang it in public the audience went crazy (not literally) and threw silver dollars at me. I made $200 that night, enough to buy a horse and buggy and travel around and sing my song to farmers, miners, roughnecks, mechanics, and shoe clerks. Doo-dah Doo-dah Day!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Deesis (de’-e-sis): An adjuration (solemn oath) or calling to witness; or, the vehement expression of desire put in terms of “for someone’s sake” or “for God’s sake.”

Me: For God’s sake, if you don’t stop doing that, I’ll put you out of the car at the next rest stop. In the meantime, I’m putting down the windows to blow some of the stink out of here. “Zombie Flower.” I didn’t know “The Walking Dead” had an online gift shop. What the hell are they trying to do selling perfume that smells like carrion? If I wanted a dead person in the car, I’d run somebody over and pack them in the back seat. I know it’s littering, but throw that crap out the window.

(Sirens Howl)

State Trooper: License, insurance card, and registration please. Hmm, ok. I saw this bottle fly out of your car window a couple of miles back. Littering is a criminal offense here in South Carolina. I am going to have to arrest you until we determine who threw the bottle. Oh my God! What is that stench? It smells like rotten meat, like a decaying dead body. Step out of your vehicle sir and open the trunk, please.

Me: it’s only my daughter’s stupid zombie perfume she got on the internet.

State Trooper: Sir, I’ll only say this once more: Step out of your vehicle and open the trunk. Sir, is that a dead moth in the corner over there? It looks like the endangered moth, Flamenmetuclosis. This is a protected species. It is a criminal offense in the State of South Carolina to kill and/or transport it. Put your hands behind your back. Hmm, these zip-ties match your T-Shirt. Mr. Botch, I am arresting you on suspicion of protected species molestation. You have the right to stand there while I make room for you and your daughter in my police cruiser. Anything you say will be doubted and anything I say will be believed. Do you understand?

Me: What is this, a new episode of “The Twilight Zone?”

State Trooper: Oh, so you want to be wise guy? Let’s add resisting arrest, and charge your daughter with complicity in your heinous crime. Barbara, come over here so I can cuff you and read you your rights. God! You stink! I feel sick. I think I’m going to pass out. Ooooh.

Barbara: Come on dad. Let’s get the hell out of here! The border’s only two miles away & the State Trooper’s full of shit about the moth —there’s no such thing. I swear, when we get home I am going file so many charges against him he’ll think he’s a credit card.

Me: Thank you for stinking. Give me a hug! Oh jeez. Let’s wait until you’ve had a shower.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Dehortatio (de-hor-ta’-ti-o): Dissuasion.

Don’t do it Eddie. You will ruin your life totally and completely. You’ll start to atrophy and become a walking talking carrot or bell pepper. Is that what you want? Carrot Boy! Is that who you want be? Do you want to die on the sidewalk from rickets—I’m not sure what they are, but they’re bad—they do something to your memory too. Have you started forgetting things lately? What’s your L.L. Bean account number? What’s the capital of Labrador? Yeah, see? It’s starting to go already. Pretty soon you won’t be able to remember who won the World Series in 1946. And all the cheese! It’ll plug you up like a bathtub drain packed with hair. Especially, from all the sharp cheddar you eat, you could probably build a dog coop with all the yellow bricks you’re pushing out your butt. And, my God! No meat?! You might as well be dead. No juicy cow flesh? No steaming veal? No lamb off the grill on one of those bamboo sticks? No pork liver sandwiches with onions and garlic? Last, and most terrifying, you will go as limp as linguini. You know what that means: the end.

You will be disabled, lonely, and then, dead in a year. This is my only warning: Do not be a vegetarian. Put that tomato down. Put it down!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Dendrographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

This mulberry tree just showed up in my back yard one spring. It was about 2 inches tall and looked like a weed of some kind. I didn’t care if it was. I wanted to let it grow and find out what it was. Over the next five year I diligently sprayed it with deer repellent and carefully mowed around it when I cut the grass, and it grew, starting to look like a tree with brownish silver bark and fattening limbs. And it kept growing. Now it is about forty feet high with symmetrical spreading branches. In summer, it leafs out and bears little white mulberries that turn dark purple as they as ripen. When the berries come, the tree becomes packed with Cedar Waxwings, which do not show up any other time during the year. I think they are beautiful birds and I don’t care if they strip the tree of berries.

Sometimes I stop to consider how all this began: a single seed landed from somewhere and, with minimal care, made a pretty big tree. I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes when the wind rustles through it’s leaves it sounds like the mulberry tree is saying “hug me.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Diacope (di-a’-co-pee): Repetition of a word with one or more between, usually to express deep feeling.

Rejected. I am rejected by you, rejected by the bank, and rejected by my cat Monad. What happened? I don’t know, I’ve always been rejected by you, but not like this! Your response to all my texts is some variation of “F” you. I can’t figure it out, unless borrowing your credit card was some kind of crime. I haven’t seen any police yet, so you probably saw my new lawnmower as a necessity like I did. That’s certainly no reason to blow me off until the end of time. And the bank: They won’t give me a loan to start a pot farm here in NY where it is totally legal. They cited my frequent late payment on the loan I already have. I’ve told them repeatedly that “late” isn’t never. They tell me that someday it probably will be never. Come on bank, take a risk on a blossoming entrepreneur—stop with the timely payment bullshit. Do you think Thomas Edison payed all his bills on time? Finally, there’s my cat, Monad, world champion rejector. I feed, I de-flea him, I dose him with catnip, I let him in and out of the house 50 times a day, and give him handfuls of kitty treats. He shows no gratitude for any of it. When I try to pick him up he scratches me, and he scratches the furniture too. I took him to a shrink and the shrink told me that “rejection is a normal attribute of cats-in-general.” He said Narcissus should have been a cat and if don’t like it, I should find another home for him.

Women, banks, and cats. They all have rejection power, and they’ve all rejected me. But, at least now I know my cat can’t help it. I feel pretty good about that.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Dialogismus (di-a-lo-giz’-mus): Speaking as someone else, either to bring in others’ points of view into one’s own speech, or to conduct a pseudo-dialog through taking up an opposing position with oneself.

Me 1: There’s a time and a place for everything.

Me 2: There you go with the two-bit cliches again. Just because it’s been said a million times, since the beginning of time, doesn’t make it true. This is neither the time nor place you bent-brained bozo. This is just what is, deal with it.

Me 1: Although it’s apocryphal, Ecclesiastes tells us:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

Me 2: There’s a time for off and time for on. Click! Click! Ha ha! Just because something has an opposite, not every time and place is the time and place for something to be its opposite, and especially, does not mean it is permissible.

M1: Precisely. We—you and me—in the realm of human community, contingency, and politics, and in all our relations with others, struggle to bring our preferred half of a given dichotomy into being. What is certain in this life-adventure we’re on is we are bound to disagree, and while there may be a time and place for everything, now and it may not be. We must be persuaded, establish solidarity, and now, let it be together.

Me 2: You sound like some kind of preacher.

Me 1: No, no. I’m just a student of rhetoric.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Dianoea (di-a-noe’-a): The use of animated questions and answers in developing an argument (sometimes simply the equivalent of anthypophora).

What is love? Unconditional affection. He says he loved his wife. Is cutting her throat with a steak knife love? No, it’s not. is it justifiable? No. She didn’t attack him. She didn’t try to poison him. She never cheated on him. She was asleep in her bed after a long day of cleaning, taking care of the five kids, making lunch, cooking dinner, and mowing the lawn, and dutifully taking the sleeping pills he gave her. Was she able to defend herself as her husband put the knife to her throat? No. She was sound asleep—possibly a drug-induced sleep. Did she have a chance? No. Did he do it? Yes. His fingerprints are on the knife and one of his children saw him do it. Why did he do it? Sadly, in his twisted mind it was cheaper and easier to murder her than to get a divorce. He had told his neighbor that he freaked out when his attorney told him what it would cost, and that he would lose nearly everything. Does this sound like a motive for choosing an alternative to divorce? Yes it does,

And what triggered the murder, what started the ball rolling? Adultery. He had fallen into the slime pit of an extramarital affair with a considerably younger woman—only two years older than his eldest daughter. He felt trapped between the old and the new. The stale and the fresh. The plodding consistent love of his wife, and the fireworks display of his young mistresses body, her endless adulation, and her cheerful, good-natured demeanor. Is the possible contrast between wife and mistress a good reason for him to contemplate murdering his wife? No. It is about the pathological desire to have his way and seeing his wife’s murder as more cost effective than divorce. It is about narcissism and the blindfold of total self-interest making him unable to gauge the consequences of his actions. He killed her in their bed where their children were conceived. And one of their children witnessed what he did. She will be traumatized for the rest of her life. If it wasn’t for the child, he would’ve escaped. He punched his little daughter in the face as he went out the bedroom door, and he told her to keep her mouth shut, or she was next.

There is no love here. There’s only deception, indecency, brutality, murder and the absolute destruction of a little girl’s life.

Where should this man go next? I vote for some kind of medieval torture chamber, but here in New York, we’ll have to settle for a conviction and a prison sentence. Life in prison without parole? Yes. This man is a murdering fiend with no redeeming qualities.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Diaphora (di-a’-pho-ra): Repetition of a common name so as to perform two logical functions: to designate an individual and to signify the qualities connoted by that individual’s name or title.

Joe: Hey Patsy! This guy you’re hanging out with has made you his blame absorber. Can’t you see it Patsy? He sets you up and walks away like nothing happened. He asks you to do him a favor, and then puts you out front where the danger of being caught is. Remember when you delivered the bag and he told you not to look inside Patsy? Well, that bag was confiscated by the police when they raided the place where you delivered it. It was full of counterfeit credit cards worth about $250.00 on the black market. The place was a fake travel agency. The only place those crooks will be booking trips to now is the State Penitentiary. Remember the truckload of boxes you delivered to the clothing store? The cargo was fake Polo and Izod shirts, sweaters, and jackets. You could be sitting in prison now if you hadn’t driven off before police got there Patsy. I know you think “doing him a favor” is a normal part of any relationship. Not this one Patsy. Don’t be a patsy, Patsy.

Patsy: He’s the kindest most generous person I’ve ever known. He gave me a Maserati! All I have to do is deliver 50 boxes of face powder to a motorcycle club in San Bernardino. What’s the harm in that? The powder is contained in beautiful boxes with a picture of a nose on the lid. I tried some of it on my face and it made my cheeks tingle. I’m leaving at 9:00.

Joe: No you’re not. If you do it Patsy, I’m going to have to arrest you. I work for the DEA and we’ve been watching your boyfriend for 2 months now. You are going to be delivering a load of cocaine. Show me where the car is and I’ll drive it to headquarters and put out a bulletin for his arrest. Let’s go Patsy.

Patsy: Oh my goodness. Do I get to keep the car?

Joe: Yes, of course. I’ll bring it back after I’ve unloaded it.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Diaporesis: 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 [=aporia].

I wonder too much. I wonder about my girlfriend. I wonder about the weather. I wonder about my food. I wonder who’s on first. I wonder why I wonder! Am I mentally ill? While I sit and wonder, the world passes me by. When I am able to talk to a person, I aways begin with “I was wondering.” People tell me I make them feel like they’re being interrogated or I am playing philosophical mind games with them. In terms of people, I am obsessed with knowing their motives: why are you wearing a blue dress, why did you park your car there, why are you having pepperoni instead of sausage pizza? Why do I need to do this? Why do I need to see inside people?

My mother never gave me a reason except “You’ll get it on the butt with the yardstick if you don’t do what I say.” Whenever I asked her “Why?” I was instructed to bend over for a hard whacking. My mother died after being impaled on a sharpened yardstick. Her killer was never caught, but I was a prime suspect. They found a knife and yardstick shavings in my room. I’ll never know why I was never charged. I often thought it was because my “why” asking would’ve driven them crazy while I was jailed waiting for trial. They couldn’t take it.

Why am I writing this? Do you think the best thing for me to do is to live with my malady and go on with my life? Why?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Diaskeue (di-as-keu’-ee): Graphic peristasis (description of circumstances) intended to arouse the emotions.

My mother was dead. Two weeks in the hospital and off she went. The restraint on her bed had come loose. She rolled over and the life sustaining tube yanked out of her arm. I’m no medical expert, but I don’t how one tube can make the difference between life and death. I demanded an autopsy but the hospital dismissed me like I was dirt.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my mother and the single tube that had killed her. I hired a lawyer and told her what had happened. The first thing she asked me was whether my mother had any enemies. I told her my mother was her own worst enemy. She ate like the pastry shop was a health food store. She drank the cheapest gin money can buy—Mr. Boston—smells like cleaning fluid flavored with juniper berries. She smoked Mavericks—a brand of cigarette that might not really be a cigarette. They are under investigation for using lawn clippings and recycled cigarette butts. The lawyer frowned and told me if we were going after a death rap, we needed somebody to blame before we’ll be granted the autopsy. I told her I thought we could blame anybody, so we blamed the orderly who mops the floors. It worked! The autopsy was performed. They found one of those little umbrellas that go in drinks lodged in my mother’s throat. She had choked to death. My mother always liked a Mimosa with a cocktail umbrella.

I sued the hospital for $5,000,000 and won. They had lied about the cause of death and we nailed them. My mother’s funeral was semi-festive. She was so quirky I know she would’ve loved it. The mortician had decorated her hair with cocktail umbrellas and put a Maverick cigarette between he lips. There was a bottle of Mr. Boston tucked under her arm. She looked great laying there. If she had gotten up and headed to Towne Liquor, it would’ve seemed perfectly normal.

You only have one mother. She was mine. It still hurts every time I think of her. I can remember her making me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for my school lunch. She always gave me extra jelly. She was so nice to my friends and girlfriends. We would play in the yard and she would pop out on the back porch in her apron: “Come on kids, the cookies are ready.” We would race to the kitchen. I loved her with all my heart.

Some day we’ll catch the bastard who killed my mother. In the meantime, I’m in a serious relationship with the lawyer, Theresa. In a weird way I feel like that’s some kind of justice, and she bakes cookies that might be better than my mother’s.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Diasyrmus (di’-a-syrm-os): Rejecting an argument through ridiculous comparison.

Your argument is like asking people to jump off a cliff to see if they can fly. It would require an audience of idiots to comply. But, your lack of respect for your constituents is always evident in the way you run your office. Your arguments for building the dam are more like building a scam. You and your family will directly benefit from building a huge concrete structure fed by a trickle of water that may evaporate before it collects even into a puddle. The only thing that will be dammed is the dam—the damn dam. This is how you run your office: self-interest, cronyism, nepotism, bribery, and more. It’s all about making an extra buck. Your arguments are like picking your nose and wiping it on people and telling them it is a gift they should grateful for. As you can tell, I want you out of office. Please resign tomorrow. In any event, you will be arrested.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( 

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Diazeugma (di-a-zoog’-ma): The figure by which a single subject governs several verbs or verbal constructions (usually arranged in parallel fashion and expressing a similar idea); the opposite of zeugma.

I had a dream that I flew into a tree. I was a red duck flapping my shiny wings, looping around and around, and, finally, diving into a lake of shiny wriggling worms. They were delicious, like sushi in motion. I had trouble taking off from the lake. The worms were wrapped around my big webbed feet. I was flapping hard. Really hard! Suddenly the worms let go all at once and I took off like a rocket—straight into a tree. I was knocked unconscious. When I awoke I was in a fox’s mouth, traveling toward certain death. Then, my mother jumped out of the bushes and kicked the fox. He dropped me in the mud and took off running. I was barely conscious. My mother grabbed me by the neck and swung me around over her head, yelling “duck, duck, duck” like me, the swinging duck, was going to hit somebody if they didn’t duck. That’s when I slammed into Miss Moody’s face. She was my kindergarten teacher back in the day. Suddenly my duckbill turned into lips and I began kissing Miss Moody. She said “yes, yes, yes” as I slobbered all over her face. Then, thank God, I woke up. I was panting and sweating. For some reason my duck call, that I used for duck hunting, was in my hand. I blew a quack. Faintly, from up in the attic, I heard “yes, yes, yes” in return. I yelled “no, no, no” as loud as I could, and that was the end of it.

Definition courtesy of Silva Rhetoricae (

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Dicaeologia (di-kay-o-lo’-gi-a): Admitting what’s charged against one, but excusing it by necessity.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I did it. But, your account of what happened is missing a major part. I was wearing my slippers outside in the rain. A huge gust of wind blew open my bathrobe and spun me around like a wind turbine. I was dizzy. I fell down and was crawling home toward Elm Street when my legally purchased and registered .45 auto handgun discharged and blew a hole in the corner mailbox, damaging US government property. When I regained my composure and realized what I had done I was ashamed. I started crying and the gun went off five more times—every time I sobbed my body heaved making me pull the trigger. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid the mail in the mailbox would be damaged or destroyed due to the hole my bullets had blown in it by accident. So, I retrieved the mail through the hole, stuffed the contents of the mailbox into my bathrobe’s pockets and my underpants, and started running toward home, where I was going to call the Department of Homeland Security. That’s when I was arrested. I did what I did to save the mail. Everything else was an accident. Check my arrest record! I’ve never been arrested for anything like this before. The closest was when I was accused of stealing an ATM, but that was an accident too. I had the wrong address and picked it up by accident. It was 3.00 am and I couldn’t see in the dark. I mistook it for the lawn tractor I was supposed to pick up.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Dilemma (di-lem’-ma): Offering to an opponent a choice between two (equally unfavorable) alternatives.

A. Welcome! You have chosen to work at the most prestigious restaurant in New York City. Here at Bitter Herbs, we strive to empower our employees by giving them options. Every day you will be offered two work assignments and YOU get to choose one! People at their best make their own choices. We all know that being free, the highest aspiration of all sane human beings, is about making choices, not being dictated to by a cruel overseer. Now, you may don your rubber gloves and exercise your sacred right to choose. Which will it be: scrubbing floors in the kitchen or washing pots and pans? The choice is yours—nobody’s telling you which task to choose. You are free to decide on your own. You are empowered. You have agency. You are part of the team.

B. Hey—what if I’d rather wait on tables?

A. We have low tolerance for rebels. If you insist on posing your own alternatives, you will be terminated. It is your choice.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Dirimens Copulatio

Dirimens Copulatio (di’-ri-mens ko-pu-la’-ti-o): A figure by which one balances one statement with a contrary, qualifying statement (sometimes conveyed by “not only … but also” clauses). A sort of arguing both sides of an issue.

Protagoras (c. 485-410 BC) asserted that “to every logos (speech or argument) another logos is opposed,” a theme continued in the Dissoi Logoi of his time, later codified as the notion of arguments in utrumque partes (on both sides). Aristotle asserted that thinking in opposites is necessary both to arrive at the true state of a matter (opposition as an epistemological heuristic) and to anticipate counterarguments. This latter, practical purpose for investigating opposing arguments has been central to rhetoric ever since sophists like Antiphon (c. 480-410 BC) provided model speeches (his Tetralogies) showing how one might argue for either the prosecution or for the defense on any given issue. As such, [this] names not so much a figure of speech as a general approach to rhetoric, or an overall argumentative strategy. However, it could be manifest within a speech on a local level as well, especially for the purposes of exhibiting fairness (establishing ethos [audience perception of speaker credibility].

This pragmatic embrace of opposing arguments permeates rhetorical invention, arrangement, and rhetorical pedagogy. [In a sense, ‘two-wayed thinking’ constitutes a way of life—it is tolerant of differences and may interpret their resolution as contingent and provisional, as always open to renegotiation, and never as the final word. Truth, at best, offers cold comfort in social settings and often establishes itself as incontestable, by definition, as immune from untrumque partes, which may be considered an act of heresy and may be punishable by death.]

We live in a world of circumstances—we are contained by thought-altering differences that have weight in determining what course to take. Truth is of little use, because there are multiple truths piled up around a given point of decision. Conflicts in this space are best resolved by persuasion—judgements of what is better or worse, right or wrong, not solely by applying what appears to be true and false: you are not supposed to lie. Tell the truth! The Nazis are at your door looking for your children. They are hiding in your basement. You lie and tell them you haven’t seen your children for weeks. Lying is a good thing here. If you told the truth, your children would be taken away. This a time-worn example, but it still makes a important point: lying can be good, telling the truth can be evil. They have no intrinsic moral valance, it emerges in the particular case, when they are told for better and for worse. Just think, if your commitment to truth was unassailable, in the example above, you would kill your children. Good idea? Is there something superior to truth operative here in the process of making a decision? Is there ever a hierarchy of truths prior to their engagement in a moment of decision? Making good decisions is about weighing alternatives, but again, maybe not.

Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text by Gogias, Editor of Daily Trope.

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Distinctio (dis-tinc’-ti-o): Eliminating ambiguity surrounding a word by explicitly specifying each of its distinct meanings.

Pecker: a very complex term layered with meanings that become clear when it is put into play in an unambiguous context, or not. I will list sentences below that use the word pecker, followed by the pecker synonym fitting the context of each listing.

1. His pecker was big and fat and pink and was dripping on the floor. NOSE

2. He grabbed the duck by its big orange pecker and threw it over the fence. BILL

3. He put his string firmly in his pecker, guaranteeing he would shoot where he wanted to. He had just had his pecker scrubbed down for the day’s event. He was sure he would shoot the farthest and the straightest and be grand champion again this year. NOTCH IN AN ARROW

4. He stood behind the big wooden pecker, looking for inspiration. This was a special group of people who had invited him to speak. The big pecker was made out of maple, unstained and uncolored—along with its size, it was the most beautiful pecker he’d ever stood behind. Too many peckers these days are made from metal instead of wood. Wooden peckers usually have carvings symbolic of the interest the peckers serve—spiritual, educational, political. LECTERN

5. He was the biggest pecker I ever knew. He loved Home Style Buffet, where being a super pecker was lauded—often with a standing ovation. He loved to lay on the floor under the ice cream machine and have somebody turn it on and dispense his favorite chocolate straight into his mouth. Once he almost choked to death, but a fellow chocolate lover gave him mouth to mouth, as much for the flavor as the first aid. He was the King of Peckers, at his best when slurping macaroni and cheese from the stainless steel Experts Trough. It was eight feet off the floor with red carpeting on the stairs and “Experts Trough” flashing off and on in an arc of red and yellow lights. Two people had drowned in the trough. It must’ve been terrible. At a memorial service for of them, in lieu candles, they held up small ziplock bags filled with warm macaroni and cheese. Anyway, my friend was a big pecker; a great pecker, a wonder pecker, almost too good to be true. FOOD LOVER

Well, there we have it—many of the ins and outs and ins and outs of peckers. We know now that pecker has more meanings than plain old “pecker.” So, fill a bag with your best peckers and be like Jimmy Carter. TOOLS.

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Distributio (dis-tri-bu’-ti-o): (1) Assigning roles among or specifying the duties of a list of people, sometimes accompanied by a conclusion. (2) Sometimes this term is simply a synonym for diaeresis or merismus, which are more general figures involving division.

We’re a family! We are not a collection of individuals, but we are a living breathing lump of pulsing flesh genetically related with matching DNA. You’ve each taken a role or two to keep this a family: a father, a mother (Mom), a daughter, and a son. As father, I am in charge of everything. For example, I fill the car’s gas tank, I work at Big Larry’s Lullaby Landfill tossing metal items into a pile and throwing glass containers in the grinder. I mow the lawn and take care of home maintenance—plumbing, electricity, paint, and the garden. Eddy, you’re in charge of picking up all the crap that gets strewn around the house each week, feeding the cat and your 12 hamsters, and training them to do interesting things at birthday parties and other social events. Also, you run the dice game in the basement, keeping it honest and making sure we get our cut for the house. I’ve seen the Police Chief a number of times down on his knees rolling the bones with one hand a holding a wad of cash with the other. You’re doing a great job, Eddy! Cathy, you’re in charge of picking out programs to watch on TV. I’ve started calling you “Streaming Cathy.” You really know how pick them. The documentary we watched about the family who secretly lives in the basement of a Russian psychiatric hospital was incredible. I didn’t understand why they did it, but in the end it turned out they were crazy. You also do a great job of making us exercise on Saturdays. I never knew that there was something called Trumpercise until you showed us. We stand behind our personal lecterns vigorously waving our arms and saying whatever comes into our heads. I love yelling “Cinnamon buns are communist” and “Build the wall.” You also do a good job of taking care of your brother. He still can’t tie his own shoes, but I know you’re working on it. Now that he can tell time, we can count on him showing up when he’s supposed to. No more being two days late for dinner. And Mom—the list of things you do stretches to the moon: laundry, cooking, washing dishes, vacuuming, making beds, cleaning Verbal’s litter box, tucking me in and singing me a lullaby every night, doing it once a month, and making our kids feel confident by complimenting them all the time, no matter what they do. The way you mop the kitchen floor binds me to you forever. The smell of the suds, the squeak of the mop, the way you wiggle and grunt, and squeeze out the dirty water makes me feel like a kid again, before we were married and we were on the night crew cleaning offices all over the city.

We are a family. Like the veins on a leaf, we are all attached to the same stem. Someday you kids will leave, but me and Mom will carry on, visiting frequently, staying for weeks at a time and interfering with your lives.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Ecphonesis (ec-pho-nee’-sis): An emotional exclamation.

I can’t believe it! I ate the whole thing! What was it anyway? What!? Candy coated lies? I guess anything with a candy coating is worth swallowing. I would love some candy-coated chrysalises. Just think—crunchy sweet on the outside with a vitamin-packed gooey caterpillar center. Maybe a Monarch or a Yellow Swallowtail. Wow!

Sugar can take you anywhere. I put it on everything! Yeah! I put it on steak, Brussels sprouts, and my wife. I take my wife into the bathroom. She gets in the tub and I spray her down for two minutes with the hand-held shower head. Then I sprinkle her front. Then, she rolls over and I sprinkle her back. What would you do with a sugar-coated wife? I promised her I would never tell a soul. So far, I haven’t said a word to anyone about our candy-coated adventures. Suffice it to say “they’re sweet.”

Someday I will write a memoir. The tentative title is “The Sugared Life: A Few of My Favorite Things.” It will include recipes for sugar coating my 10 favorite edibles and lickables. Mmmm.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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