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.

X: I baked your dreams at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes. Now, they ought to be delicious nightmares.

Y: What? “Baked my dreams”? “Delicious nightmares”? What the heck are you talking about? Do you know what catachresis is? Look it up!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

There is darkness. There is light. There is a beginning. There is an ending.

I sit on the scar–the red crooked scar dug into my body by my cruel questioners. They called it enhanced interrogation. I called it torture.

I did not have, do not have–I will NEVER have–the answers they were looking for. So, I lied to get out of hell. And then, I travelled light, mostly under cover of darkness, and after a few days, I crossed the border.


I am free now. A refugee welcomed to your country with open arms, smiles, food, shelter, clothing. I call what you’re doing for me ‘enhanced charity.’ You call it ‘what we do.’

I am grateful–first, to be alive, and second, to be here among such a wonderfully humane group of people. Thank you for helping me apply for a visa to settle in Canada so I may be reunited with my wife and daughters.

Thank you.

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

I am not going to talk about the stream of misinformation trickling from the White House. I’m not going to talk about the leaks, the so-called “fake” news, and the disrespect addressed to the “reporter” community.

Why bother?

Instead, I’m going to limit myself to speaking about the social benefits of smoking cigarettes and the unfairness of the high taxes levied on them by state and local governments: a pack of Marlboros costs nearly $11.00 outside of New York City & in New York City, they cost around  $12.00-$14.00.

Moreover, I will be speaking about the restrictions placed on where you may smoke, and how old you have to be to legally light up.

OK, now:

First, the social benefits of smoking. Gathered together in a smoke-filled room with your . . .

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Once upon a time you held me near and dear. Now, you’re slowly tearing me apart and piece-by-piece tossing me into love’s trash bin.

At first I was filled with sorrow, then pain, now anger.

Are you wondering what I’m going to do with my anger? Honestly, I don’t know, but you better keep your eyes wide open day and night.

Something is bound to happen.

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Charientismus (kar-i-en-tia’-mus): Mollifying harsh words by answering them with a smooth and appeasing mock.

This is the fourth time today that you’ve had something disrespectful to say to me. But hey, who’s counting?

I am!

Do it one more time and I’m going home.

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Chiasmus (ki-az’-mus): 1. Repetition of ideas in inverted order.  2. Repetition of grammatical structures in inverted order (not to be mistaken with antimetabole, in which identical words are repeated and inverted).

Another day, another fiasco. Screwing up every day!

At a press conference the other day, the President said (among other things), “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

Is that something to be proud of?

There’s a huge difference between being the least X and not being X at all!

Am I missing something? Is there some aspect I’ve overlooked?

Did he ‘really’ mean by what he said that he is not anti-Semitic?

I don’t know.

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Chronographia (chro-no-graph’-i-a): Vivid representation of a certain historical or recurring time (such as a season) to create an illusion of reality. A kind of enargia: [the] generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description.

Every direction I look there is snow–heavy, wet, incorrigible snow. As I pull on my giant black rubber boots, I’m glad that all I need to do is shovel the porch and make a narrow path the the garage’s back door. So, I plunge in the snow shovel.

I hit something softer than the hard-packed snow. I dig it up.

It is a now-headless toy mouse: one of my cat’s many toys. It is leaking catnip; sort of seasoning the pristine snow with the catnip’s dark-greenish-brown flakes. I plunge my hand into the snow to find the toy mouse’s head. I stir it around. I can’t find it.

I look up and see the cat looking at me through the back door’s window. His yellow eyes widen as he surveys the cat-toy carnage. I put the decapitated toy in my jacket pocket after dumping out all of the catnip.

I finish the path to the garage. I go inside and deposit the headless toy in the trash.

I head back inside the house & there’s the cat still sitting there: eyes wide, back straight, black tail twitching.

Nervously, I open the back door and try to explain what happened as I’m coming through the door into the mud room. I don’t even finish my first sentence when the cat walks three feet and flops down by the heat duct blowing nice warm air.

“Why do I even bother?” I say to myself. Some day I’ll get the answer, but until then, I’ll just keep asking the question, the question with no readily available answer: “Why do I even bother?”

Maybe I should ask the cat.

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


Climax (cli’-max): Generally, the arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in an order of increasing importance, often in parallel structure.

I woke up this morning to the ongoing media drumbeat–thump, thump, thump, we must dump Trump.

The radio says investigate him, question him, impeach him.

The Facebook news feeds say investigate him, question him, impeach him.

Twitter says investigate him, question him, impeach him.

Many Democrats say investigate him, question him, impeach him.

Most Republicans say nothing at all, except to complain about the “leaks” from the intelligence community–primarily CIA and NSA.

Bear this in mind: Republicans aren’t accusing CIA and NSA of lying. Rather they are accusing them of leaking.

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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 epistrophecoenotes is simply a more specific kind of symploce (the repetition of phrases, not merely words).

Lying politicians pose a significant threat to our nation’s solvency.  The Republic depends on truth as a central source of sustenance. The Republic can become weak and collapse under the weight of misrepresentations made by political actors.

Again, lying politicians pose a significant threat to our nation’s solvency. Now, what’s the difference between a lie and a factually incorrect statement that you know is factually incorrect, but you represent as true? Answer: None.

So, is President Trump lying about the busloads of illicit voters who invaded NH from MA and affected the election? Or, does he actually believe it’s true?

If he believes it’s true, he is currently the most gullible person on planet Earth. He has taken up the belief with no evidence. There must be an advisor in the White House he trusts more than God!

Which is worse: being a liar or being mega-gullible–being easily duped?

I think President Trump is lying–and never forget:

Lying politicians pose a significant threat to our nation’s solvency and the Republic can become weak and collapse under the weight of misrepresentations made by political actors.

Good riddance Flynn.

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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.

Colon or membrum 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 slower speed of concatenated membra to the quicker speed of words joined together without conjunction (articulus).

I worked hard; I went home; I ate dinner.

Go to bed, go to sleep.

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Commoratio (kom-mor-a’-ti-o): Dwelling on or returning to one’s strongest argument. Latin equivalent for epimone.

The news is fact-based. Facts can be verified. Calling news “fake ” begs verification. That is, the assertion that a given news story is “fake” ought to be easily verified by all the tests of truthfulness operative on the Internet and anywhere else where verification of facts may be called for in order to engender belief.

To assert that news is “fake” without evidence that it is in fact fake, is actually, itself, fake news, or at best an unverified claim, awaiting verification before it can be taken seriously, and as a fact, believed.

The problem with the “fake news” movement is that it is in itself representative of unverified, and therefore potentially fake news.

So, if you’re going to call it “fake news” please offer some evidence as to why it’s fake–some line of argument that challenges its truthfulness with evidence linked to the verifiable world of facts (AKA reality).

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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 metaphorsimileallegory, etc.

Your leadership style is like a tornado on ice.

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

You persisted. You wouldn’t back down. You took personal risks. You gave us all a shining example of courage, non-violence, and wisdom in action–a rare combination of virtues; a rarity that we can’t forget.

The pipeline was put on hold and we hold you responsible for enabling a judge, in good conscience, to see it our way and grant the stay.

Now, we are faced with the stay’s unravelling. Now we are faced with beginning again. I trust you will continue to display the same virtues in action so that we may influence a judge, build sympathy for our cause, and permanently block the pipeline’s construction.


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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.

Trump so far: The first 100 days. The first 100 fiascos. The first 100 tweets. The first 100 regrets. The first 100 people stuck in airports.

The first 100 times I ever had misgivings about American democracy’s ability to elect capable Presidents (no matter what their party affiliation or political agendas) who abide by the Constitution and treat “We the people” with respect.

I’m tired of hearing about fake news, cry babies, and all the other  insults.

The next 100 days: Grow up and start acting like the President of the United States of America, instead of a low-budget gossip columnist sending slop off a Twitter feed whenever the impulse moves you.

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

Ice, slipping. Rain, drenching. Snow, drifting.  Sunshine, blinding. Clouds & snow again–all in one afternoon.  Welcome to Central New York (CNY) where we play weather roulette trying to plan our days and nights around (or in spite of) the weather.

I’m thinking of inventing a combo tool just for CNY: Umbrella, snow brush, ice scraper, an all-in-one weather-thwarting tool.

Sunglasses sold separately.

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


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.

I thought you went crazy, as hazy as you were about the crash, but cash will bring you back to clarity–a rarity even with money on the table and no accident to speak of.  Now tell us, what happened and it’ll be a payday. Anyway, just tell us what you remember. The more detail, the better.

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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 think this is one of the best social events I’ve ever attended!  No, I take that back. This is the best social event I’ve ever been to: the slow dancing frogs were a complete surprise! What can I say–THE BEST!

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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.”

For God’s sake, slow down! There’s no way I want to die in a traffic accident on my way to the mall.

I swear, if you don’t slow down, I’ll call 911 on my cellphone and have you arrested!

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

I know you want to take the bus, but you’ve never been to that part of town before & you don’t know the bus stop you’re looking for–you could get lost on the way to an important appointment & miss it.

I’m reserving you a cab & loaning you my credit card to pay for it. When you go by taxi  you’ll ‘land’ at the front door and won’t have to walk up and down the street looking for the place.

Here’s my credit card. Simple.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

What is it that grows up so tall–so tall it becomes part of the skyline–cutting black shadows out of early evening and setting them along the edges of my fields?

Some have needles. Some have leaves. Pine and maple–all green in daylight’s sunny bath. The trees’ shadows mark time–as they lengthen, sunset begins to set and the trees’ shadows blanket the fields with rising darkness and a sunset backdrop filtering gently through the trees, making halos of diminishing pink and golden light.

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

Me boring?

You think I’m boring? Spending time with you is like hanging out with an overripe eggplant

Me boring?

What about the time you made us watch C-span? Watching empty Senate chambers is almost as exciting watching an empty parking lot. Ya-hoo! That was boredom squared!

Me boring?

You’re the one who’s boring!

What do you think of that, most boring person of the century? Why don’t we find something exciting to do, like looking through my baseball card collection?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.

‘On Friday I helped make America safe again. These Executive Orders are the best thing going anywhere & I mean it.’

We all know why your Executive Orders are the ‘best thing going.’ It’s because you don’t need to do anything except co-author them with you loony advisors, sign them, and hand them over–a truly convenient way of constituting your authority, bypassing Congress, and literally ‘ruling’ the USA with edicts covering the range of your campaign promises.

However, we would prefer legislation–that Congress play a key role in forming new laws of the land and judges play a role where the Executive Orders (AKA edicts) are contested on Constitutional grounds.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Where was I last night? Where do you think I was? In a hot tub? At a banquet? Relaxing in the Presidential suite at Trump Towers?


SURPRISE! Despite having a green card and living in the US  for the past 5 years, what do you think happened? You’re right: I was detained at JFK & slept on the floor last night. Now, I’m quite hungry! I’m trying to get home to my wife and two baby daughters. They live in New Jersey.

Thank you so much for the displays of solidarity & for the legal assistance.

Wish me luck!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.

Professor Smith is not Professor Smith when he ridicules students who’re unable to answer his obtuse questions. In these cases, he’s not even being a professor, let alone a bad professor.

We need professors who are professors–who treat students with respect and enable them to learn all they can possibly learn.

I will have a meeting about this episode with Professor Smith. My hope is that we’ll come up with some kind of plan to get him back on the Professorial track.

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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].

What should we do? I’ve examined many alternatives and cannot come up with a suitable plan.

What should we do? I spent hours brainstorming with our biggest fans, but still, I can’t find the answer.

What should we do? I know: take a long break (maybe a week) and then come back at it.

See you later!

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