Perclusio

Perclusio (per-clu’-si-o): A threat against someone, or something.

If you don’t start acting like a grown up world leader at these summit meetings, we’re going to make you stay at a youth hostel with the rest of the kids. Also, you will be required to wear short pants and go to bed by 21.30. Now, go sit in the corner over there and think about what you’ve done.

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

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Periergia

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.

This was a big day. It was the size of Canada and I didn’t have a map–just a slip of paper that said “Roll like a river.” The white Christmas lights flashing in the windows were like starfish rotating in the phosphorescent swirl of a moonless tide pool cluttered with snails and seaweed like some kind of sushi dinner that comes in with the tide and waits for the soft embrace of bamboo chopsticks clutching it and raising it toward the gaping mouth of a hungry human.

Oh God!

To my amazement, right then, the day grew larger, now it was the size of North America. I looked at my watch. It was 192 hours past 65. What!? Suddenly, a sage appeared from of the trunk of my stupid Ford. He was wearing blue and gray striped pajamas with “SAGE” monogrammed over the pocket. Before I could ask him what the hell I should do to get through what had become a limitless day, he said “Roll like a river” and turned into small shrub–maybe an azalea. I wasn’t surprised. I had read about things like this in my book club. So, I got down on the ground and started to roll ‘like a river.’ I rolled off the curb, and was run over by a FEDEX truck, and the day shrunk down to nothing–down to a broken leg and multiples cuts and bruises, and a mild concussion.

It WAS a big day. It was the day I almost died. 

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

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Period

Period: The periodic sentence, characterized by the suspension of the completion of sense until its end. This has been more possible and favored in Greek and Latin, languages already favoring the end position for the verb, but has been approximated in uninflected languages such as English. [This figure may also engender surprise or suspense–consequences of what Kenneth Burke views as ‘appeals’ of information.]

What is time? “Time is of the essence,” as they say. But I ask, “The essence of what?” Of dread? Of hope? Of slowly decomposing into the earth and polluting the ground with a body saturated by decadence, debauchery, and woe? I am not sick, I am well. Yet I dwell in remorseful self indulgence: in time. Time, you are the heaviest burden. We carry you to the end. In death we drop you. I hate you, time, while I’m awake, but in dreams you are sometimes absent, like the cure of a disease. And I fell asleep.

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

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Periphrasis

Periphrasis (per-if’-ra-sis): The substitution of a descriptive word or phrase for a proper name (a species of circumlocution); or, conversely, the use of a proper name as a shorthand to stand for qualities associated with it. (Circumlocutions are rhetorically useful as euphemisms, as a method of amplification, or to hint at something without stating it.)

There goes the orange two-legged Fat Glob followed by his pet Cheese of Kiss Ass trying to hump Fat Glob’s calf while he’s on the move–headed briskly to the Chief Executive Trough. Today they’re serving fermented pig slop seasoned with dandruff and a sprinkling of nasal hair. The chef is tense because he’s never made anything quite this disgusting before. However, Kiss Ass has assured him that Fat Glob will love it. He is somewhat relieved, but still a little worried. He guesses he’ll just have to lie about where the nasal hairs came from.

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

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Personification

Personification: Reference to abstractions or inanimate objects as though they had human qualities or abilities. The English term for prosopopeia (pro-so-po-pe’-i-a) or ethopoeia (e-tho-po’-ia): the description and portrayal of a character (natural propensities, manners and affections, etc.).

My apple trees were telling me I would be making a lot of cider and jelly this fall. Their branches were bent under the weight of the apples–red, round, luscious apples begging to be picked.

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

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Polyptoton

Polyptoton (po-lyp-to’-ton): Repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.

I think it was the Nazis who said repetition is the soul of truth, believing that lies continually repeated would start sounding true. I think it is true that repetition is the soul of truth–truth is true everywhere all the time. It does not change.

It takes a sort of disgusting deviousness to translate that maxim into a rationale for persistently telling the same lies over and over again, affording them the luster of truth, passing them off as true, and deceiving millions of trusting people by their telling.

How do we put and end to this? Truth is the foundation of democracy. Lies erode it and the erosion will ultimately lead to democracy’s collapse. It may be too late. What can we do?

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

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Polysyndeton

Polysyndeton (pol-y-syn’-de-ton): Employing many conjunctions between clauses, often slowing the tempo or rhythm. (Asyndeton is the opposite of polysyndeton: an absence of conjunctions.)

The witnesses testified, and testified, and testified, and testified, and testified and clearly told the truth. The Republicans postured, and played at histrionics, and affected righteous indignation, and were rude to the American patriots who had come forward in service of our Republic.

The contrast was startling. What the Republicans did reflected what they believe their supporters wanted to hear and how they wanted to hear it: rude and accusatory monologues that didn’t really depend on witness testimony, but instead, on foregone conclusions constituting the party line. Their presence was a distraction and they knew it. They have poorly served the American people and should be put on the witness stand and asked why they said what they said, and why they said it the way they did. I think the truth is: To subvert justice.

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

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Procatalepsis

Procatalepsis (pro-cat-a-lep’-sis): Refuting anticipated objections.

I have six credit cards. Each one has a $12,000.00 limit. None of them has a balance. There’s nothing stopping us from buying that cow. We’ve got the money. We can rent a truck and drive her back to Brooklyn. There’s room for her to live in the parking garage below our condo–in our designated parking space. There may be a few minor difficulties, like the law, and food, and the smell, but we can shuttle her poop in big garbage bags and buy her food at the pet store. I’m sure they have cow food–if they have snake and rabbit food, they’re sure to have cow food! As far as the law goes, hey, this is Brooklyn we’re talking about. Our neighbors keep chickens and nobody bothers them. They just hand over a package of thighs once and month. We can hand over milk.  

Well, that covers it. What are we going name her? What about “How Now”? You know, like in “how now brown cow.” Or maybe “Madam Melania” in honor of our nation’s First Lady? At any rate, we can discuss naming later. Let’s get the truck lined up.

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

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Prodiorthosis

Prodiorthosis (pro-di-or-tho’-sis): A statement intended to prepare one’s audience for something shocking or offensive. An extreme example of protherapeia.

Good afternoon members of the press. Our lives typically run along more or less predictable lines. We get up. We go to work. We go home. Well, I am sad to say that today isn’t normal. President Donald John Trump has been kidnapped. He is being held hostage somewhere in San Francisco, California by people who have threatened “remove his pussy grabbing hands” if he does not pay $500 million in reparations to his sexual assault victims, prohibit his children from writing any more “piece of shit” books, and stop “most of his lying” to the American people. The kidnappers realize that President Trump may not be able to completely stop lying and are willing to allow him 5 lies per day (down from 22).

The United States government stands ready to do all it can to secure the President’s safe return. Some time next month the Coast Guard will fly around over San Francisco Bay, and the local Boy Scouts will undertake a vigilance campaign positioning themselves outside convenience stores and video arcades, twice a week from 3-5 pm.

If you know of anybody with $500 million, please inform Acting President Pence. He believes that private funding is appropriate in this case: “Mother thinks it would be wrong to use federal tax dollars to pay ransom, especially to people from San Francisco who have turned their backs on Jesus.”

So, members of the press. There you have it. But, as they say, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

  • Post your own prodiorthosis on the “Comments” page!

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

Proecthesis

Proecthesis (pro-ek’-the-sis): When, in conclusion, a justifying reason is provided.

Ok, so I’ve been missing for seven years. No, I haven’t been in prison. I didn’t remarry or even have any kind of relationship with anybody for all those years. I just got stuck in the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Every time I thought about coming back, I got a glimpse of the other side and just kept on going. Finally, I got to a place in Nevada where there was no grass. I decided to come home right then and there. Now, I’m mowing lawns for a living and it keeps me satisfied. Can we start over?

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

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Prolepsis

Prolepsis (pro-lep’-sis):  (1) A synonym for procatalepsis [refuting anticipated objections];  (2) speaking of something future as though already done or existing. A figure of anticipation.

1. We’ve seen the evidence. We know the facts. We’ve heard the testimony from a parade of credible witnesses. The consensus is strong. The window of reasonable doubt is closed. Prepare to register your votes for or against the impeachment of Donald John Trump, 45th President of the United States of America.

2. The shining lights. The long shadow of the unbreachable wall. The illegal immigrants thwarted, turning around and going back to where they came from. More jobs for real Americans.  Fewer drugs. Fewer rapes. Fewer robberies. Fewer murders. We’re almost there! A few more billion and we’ll all be safe–free of worry and free of fear! God bless America!

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

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Protherapeia 

Protherapeia (pro-ther-a-pei’-a): Preparing one’s audience for what one is about to say through conciliating words. If what is to come will be shocking, the figure is called prodiorthosis.

“The future is not ours to see.” The future was not theirs to see. They were cheerful. They were looking forward to lunchtime and hanging out with their friends–to eating lunch and joking around like they did every day. Noisy kids–a joyful noise. But now the lunchroom’s empty and silent. The hallways are empty and silent and our hearts are broken. Two wonderful kids are dead, shot down by a psychopath dressed in black. Where did a 16 year old get a .45 caliber automatic handgun? Who is to blame for that? We are at least partially to blame for our failure to move our politicians to take steps–to make it illegal to keep weapons unlocked when not in use and to make sure only the right people have keys or know the gun safe’s combination.

There is much more that needs to be done. When we are done mourning we must go to work to agitate for sane gun laws and see to it that our politicians hear us and take appropriate action. Otherwise, school shootings will keep happening. Innocent children will die.

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

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Protrope

Protrope (pro-tro’-pe): A call to action, often by using threats or promises.

If you’ll just help me hide this cash, I promise to let you have some. We’ve been friends since high school. I’d hate to see that go by the wayside now. Here’s a shovel. We’re going to hide the money in your garden. Come spring, we’ll be harvesting some bundles of lettuce. Ha! Ha! Stop looking at me like that and start digging. This pistol isn’t pointed at you anyway–it’s just pointed in your general direction. Just start digging before I change my mind and bury you instead of the money.

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

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Proverb

Proverb: One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adageapothegmgnomemaximparoemia, and sententia.

It has been said: “If you go looking for rainbows, you’ll need some rain first.” It’s true! Bearing that in mind, are you sure you really want to go grocery shopping? You’d probably be better off ordering another pizza instead of driving all the way to the store in your piece of crap truck.

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

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Prozeugma

Prozeugma (pro-zoog’-ma): A series of clauses in which the verb employed in the first is elided (and thus implied) in the others.

I listened to the hearings. The fairytale context setting stories. The invited guests’ narratives with no foundations in fact. The sad excuses for lawyers and elected officials representing Republican interests. The sideshow with one pitiful side and one praiseworthy side.

I wonder what the outcome will be. I know what it should be.

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

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Pysma

Pysma (pys’-ma): The asking of multiple questions successively (which would together require a complex reply). A rhetorical use of the question.

I was on the phone call.  I heard it with my own ears. There is no doubt that Ukraine’s President was being extorted by our President. Do you really believe I am mistaken? Do you really believe virtually all the other people who were in on the call got it wrong? What kind of bullshit are you trying to push on the American people? What is your motive? To undermine our democracy? To make a Big Lie prevail? To please your boss?

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

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Ratiocinatio

Ratiocinatio (ra’-ti-o-cin-a’-ti-o): Reasoning (typically with oneself) by asking questions. Sometimes equivalent to anthypophora. More specifically, ratiocinatio can mean making statements, then asking the reason (ratio) for such an affirmation, then answering oneself. In this latter sense ratiocinatio is closely related to aetiologia. [As a questioning strategy, it is also related to erotima {the general term for a rhetorical question}.]

Should he be impeached? Yes. Why? Clearly, given the pile of evidence, he committed an offense that is impeachable. But, some would say that’s not a good reason to impeach him–he behaves this way “all the time.”  If that’s the case, he should’ve been impeached already! In fact, it is bizarre to claim that frequently breaking the law makes the latest infraction permissible. Where does this idea come from? It comes from the minds of immature idiots whose only criterion of guilt or innocence is loyalty to the accused–regardless of what the accused may guilty of. It nearly makes me sick to know you fools are entrusted with voting on the outcome of his trial and that you make up a majority in the Senate. God save us. God save the United States of America.

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

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Repotia

Repotia (re-po’-ti-a): 1. The repetition of a phrase with slight differences in style, diction, tone, etc. 2. A discourse celebrating a wedding feast.

1. Help me! Extract me! Don’t you think you should save me? I’m drowning. Helllllp! Dammit! Get me the hell out of here!

2. I remember the first time I got married. Plain and simple in front of a Justice of the Peace. I remember the second time I got married. Unbelievably gaudy display of wealth and self-importance. I remember the third time I got married, 30 years ago. A simple ceremony in a simple church, like your wedding. After 30 years, we’re still happily married.

This is your third marriage. I hope it works like mine has. Here’s to 30 more years! Bless you!

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

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Restrictio

Restrictio (re-strik’-ti-o): Making an exception to a previously made statement. Restricting or limiting what has already been said.

I think it’s time for Trump to shut the hell up. Well, maybe not shut the hell up, but just have his vocal chords removed. Well, maybe just one vocal chord would do it. Yeah, that’s the ticket. One vocal chord.

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

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Sarcasmus

Sarcasmus (sar’kaz’-mus): Use of mockery, verbal taunts, or bitter irony.

Your hair is a complicated blond freeway intersection designed to confuse your nits into tumbling down your collar. For a guy with your brains, I would expect something like this. Time and again, you show us all how amazingly brilliant your amazing brilliance is. If we could all be like you the world would be destroyed.

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

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Scesis Onomaton

Scesis Onomaton (ske’-sis-o-no’-ma-ton): 1. A sentence constructed only of nouns and adjectives (typically in a regular pattern).  2. A series of successive, synonymous expressions.

1. Whistleblower, federal employee, Lindsey Graham. Truthful. Truthful. Liar.

2. They lied. They prevaricated. They stretched the truth. They fibbed. They were full of shit. They were Trump’s most stalwart supporters.

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

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Sententia

Sententia (sen-ten’-ti-a): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adageapothegemgnomemaximparoemia, and proverb.

“Never a lender nor a borrower be.”

Adhering to the advice above has kept me poor, frustrated, and lonely all of my life.

It all started when I joined the Mega-Jesus Church of the Resurrected Saint Petersburg Anointed With Light and Gold Rolex Watches and Small Weapons. The Pastor is Father Doctor Reverend Excon O’Bail. It was the way he pointed a loaded pistol at the congregation (often at me) and yelled, “Ok you lost parasites, it’s time to make your offering. If it’s under a grand your goin’ outta here in a rubber bag.”

Now I own only my underwear, shoes, a suit, a bicycle, and a Rev. Excon Specially Formulated Bible. I have a decent job, but my family is estranged. My parents disowned me years ago and my brother Bill is trying to have me put away. My sister, who is a budding writer, wants me to tell her my “story” so she can write a book and “become famous.”

I just want to continue counting my blessings. I have faith that I will get past zero someday and claim the beautiful rewards promised by Rev. Excon.

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

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Simile

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

Trump is like a talking fart.

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

 

Skotison

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

There is testimony, and then there IS testimony. We need to work up a pack of lies, affect righteous indignation and head out for the TV talk shows and news programs by the end of the week. For this sort of stuff FOX is not going to be enough.

So let’s meet in the secure bunker and develop our talking points on the things both of us know are going to be problematic. Also, we’ve got to keep L’l Schnitzel from getting in the way.

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

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Syllepsis

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 have terminated your National Security Advisor, White House Chief of Staff, White House Communications Director, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and soon, countless people who can’t afford health insurance because of you and your sadistic colleagues in the US Senate.

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

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