Tricolon

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


I stood. I turned. I farted. As I took my laptop out of the overhead bin, I noticed the man immediately across the aisle had his head in his hands and was pounding intermittently on his forehead. I didn’t know what to do, so I sat back down and booted up my laptop and picked up where I had left off that morning, working on my speech for the International Gummy Bear Brothers, an all-male club founded in the 1970s solely for the protection and advancement of Gummy Bear culture and the free flow of Gummy Bears across international borders. It was sort of like Doctors Without Borders, only with bear-shaped candies.

I offered a Gummy Bear to the woman sitting next to me. She looked at me like I was trying to poison her. I closed my laptop. The speech can wait. I need to put my laptop in the overhead bin.

I stood. I turned. I farted.


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

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Abating

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).


This is the best one of these kinds of paintings I ever saw. It makes slightly less of a mess on the canvas than other untalented artists’ work does. You should really get into something you’re able to do well like raking leaves or going to the gym.


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

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Abbaser

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).


This isn’t the Queen Mary, but it floats. It’s not like that rich guy’s million dollar motor scow. He loads it up with beautiful women and rides it around and around the harbor at night with Frankie Ford blasting “Sea Cruise” from the ‘60s on his media player. He almost swamped my “Nemesis” the other night and I almost shot my flare gun at him; a minor offense considering his irresponsible idiocy. Anyway, the Coast Guard will nail him eventually.


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

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Abecedarian

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 book covering dadaism’s encryptions fully; giddy historiographers’ ideal jackpot!


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

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Accismus

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


No! No! No! Please don’t give me another piece of your delicious chocolate-salami cake. I can’t stand being in Genoa and Bavaria at once—I want to wear lederhosen and sing opera!

Well, hmmm. I am losing my resolve.

Ok, Kraftwerk-Dante, cut me another slice. I love the gustatory clash.

Someday soon, you’ll have to come to my home and try my mushroom mousse and puréed tadpole; a recipe I obtained from a homeless person who lived by a pond. He had no electric appliances and made the dish entirely by hand with a small rock.


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

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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.

Hurry up, wait, damn! I can’t make up my mind about anything any more. My choice-making has become a disaster. Yesterday, I started out for the Doctor’s and ended up in a gas station rest room washing my face mask in the sink. This morning, I watched Fox News! What the hell is next? Leave the country by mistake? Shave my head? Awful, awful, awful! I need help!

Hey! Give me back my car keys!

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

I went to the the Blue Boat Bar, and I met a beautiful woman, and I fed her some drinks, and I asked her to go home with me, and she laughed at me and called me pathetic. I don’t even know what “pathetic” means. I guess that makes me pathetic.

All my friends get girls all the time. I’m going to follow one of my friends, and spy on him, and learn his technique, and try it myself! He hangs out at the “Perfumed Sweatshirt.” It costs $60 to get in, but he’s met a lot of girls there. I’m going to disguise myself as a refrigerator repairman so he won’t recognize me, and see how it goes. I wonder if I should carry a toolbox and maybe a can of refrigerant.


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

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Acoloutha

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.


Barbara cut her lawn. Edward mowed his lawn. Jimmy dressed his lawn. Carl cut off his finger with his hedge clippers. The ambulance ran him to the hospital. His wife Barb drove to the hospital, following the ambulance far behind with Carl’s finger in a little red and white lunch cooler. She was sure that the finger could be sewn back on. When she got to the hospital they told her that they already had Carl’s finger and had reattached it, and that Carl had to stay over night for observation. As she headed back home alone with the mystery finger in the chest beside her on the seat, she wondered if there were other body parts buried near the hedge. When she got home, she got the shovel out of the garage and took a closer look at the finger. Why didn’t she notice before? The nail of he severed finger was well-manicured. Carl’s nails had never been well manicured.


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

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Acrostic

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.


SCOTCH

Smooth

Captivating

Oasis,

Truly

Cast

Heavenly


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

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Adage

Adage (ad’-age): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings, or traditional expressions of conventional wisdom.


He was chronically constipated, but he had a saying he quoted every morning as he sat on the toilet: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Sometimes he would read a book, catch up on his email, or sing a patriotic song.

Although it took a relatively long time, he always managed to go without laxatives or enemas. As he wiped, he often thought of Tolstoy’s musing on time: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” He had those warriors on his side, and every morning they fought alongside him and helped propel him to victory over his sluggish bowels.


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

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Adianoeta

Adianoeta: An expression that, in addition to an obvious meaning, carries a second, subtle meaning (often at variance with the ostensible meaning).


We hold a lot of meetings. We gather like a small herd of cows. Cows don’t fight. Cows don’t argue. They are content. But, when you throw a bale of hay on the table, things change: there is a lot of loud mooing and jostling.


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

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Adnominatio

Adnominatio (ad-no-mi-na’-ti-o): 1. A synonym for paronomasia [punning]. 2. A synonym for polyptoton. 3. Assigning to a proper name its literal or homophonic meaning.


1. Making all that jam was a jarring experience! I’m tired and my fingers are stained.

2. He tried to teach what can’t be taught: how to be happy—how to deal with happenstance and make good things happen.

3. Belle, you’re such a ding-dong.


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

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Adynaton

Adynaton (a-dyn’-a-ton): A declaration of impossibility, usually in terms of an exaggerated comparison. Sometimes, the expression of the impossibility of expression.


I can’t tell you how far away from the truth that is! It’s like the truth is right there in the front row, here in New York, and what he’s just said is in a dumpster in LA. Big gap. Huge gap! It’s impossible that this soon-to-be indicted liar will ever tell the truth. Do not believe a single word he says except “goodbye” when he absconds with all your hopes. Better you say “goodbye” before he does! Don’t vote for him. Don’t pay any attention to him. Don’t be fooled by his pathological bluster.


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

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Aetiologia

Aetiologia (ae-ti-o-log’-i-a): A figure of reasoning by which one attributes a cause for a statement or claim made, often as a simple relative clause of explanation.


I am tired of wearing this damn mask, but I am keeping it on because I don’t want get sick, or make anybody else sick.

It is nearly impossible to believe the immature self-righteous ignorance of people refusing to wear a mask! Citing the First Amendment as a reason is like saying that knowingly communicating an STD and infecting another person is an exercise of the transmitter’s First Amendment rights. Bizarre.


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

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Affirmatio

Affirmatio (af’-fir-ma’-ti-o): A general figure of emphasis that describes when one states something as though it had been in dispute or in answer to a question, though it has not been.


Rep. Luno: How many Israeli fire-breathing flying saucers did it take to ignite California’s rash of wildfires? I have been asked this question by scientists and professional speculators from across our beautiful country. Of special interest is the answer given by The American Institute for Rumoring and Mistrust (AIRM). They are devoted to constituting an alternative reality to replace the government’s truth monopoly.

AIRM’s answer to the Big Question: “In our learned , well-considered and totally astute opinion, the widespread fires were caused by the combustion of flammable materials, possibly caused by Israeli flying saucers, BIC lighters wielded by federal agents, and federal prison convicts working on chain gangs in the woods. Combined, these are formidable adversaries and, given their sponsorship, should further erode our faith in our government. It’s wish to burn down America is vile and something needs to be done to thwart it.”


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

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Aganactesis

Aganactesis (ag’-an-ak-tee’-sis): An exclamation proceeding from deep indignation.


John: Who the hell do you think you are! You’ve crawled into my consciousness like some kind of space worm. I can feel you squirming around in there, it’s my head, my mind you’re playing with.

Jane: Did you take your medication? Sometimes the space worms will crawl in your ears when you’re asleep and you didn’t take your pill before you went to bed.

John: Bullshit! I can hear the worms when I look in your closet. You’re raising them and planting your squirmy little pets in my head so you can listen in on my thoughts; so they can tell you what I’m thinking about! And no, I didn’t take my medication. I forgot and your worms sneaked in. Goddamn you!

Jane: Here, take this pill. It will chase the worms out of your head.

John: Like hell It will. Stick it! Flush it!

Jane: Here, have this piece of cheesecake. It’s your favorite. Remember? Don’t chew it—the flavor comes from swishing it around in your mouth and then swallowing it.

John: Oooh. You found my soft spot—New York cheesecake. This will make me feel better—it never fails. We can deal with the damn mind worms later. Mmmm.


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

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Allegory

Allegory (al’-le-go-ry): A sustained metaphor continued through whole sentences or even through a whole discourse.

“It was stolen! It was stolen!“ cried the Great Pretender. His papier-mâché hat was gone. The hat had “Bring Me Another Diet Coke” painted across the front with a photo of Walt Disney pasted on the front too, for the Great Pretender had modeled ‘his’ nation after Disneyland, naming its cabinet officials, colleagues, and enemies after Disney characters. For example, there was his loyal Attorney General Mr. Smee, his Secretary of defense Goofy, and his favorite colleague Snow White.

The Great Pretender treated everyone like cartoon characters, as if they weren’t real, as if they were stuffed toys scattered on the floor that he could kick around whenever he felt like it.

“I smell smoke! I smell smoke!” The Great Pretender cried, panic stricken. Out the window, his papier-mâché hat was in flames. As the fire rose higher, smoke began to come out his ears, his eyes glazed over and he fell to the floor, dead.

When the news spread of his demise, there was hooting and cheering throughout the land. People sang “Ding dong the dick is dead, the wicked dick is dead!” At that point “Good Old Joe” was anointed Leader of Land. The Great Pretender was buried in a landfill in The Tropical Place, and all was well. The children were released from their cages, taxes were raised on the obscenely rich, and Mitch the Impaler died of Thwarter’s Disease.

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

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Alleotheta

Alleotheta (al-le-o-the’-ta): Substitution of one case, gender, mood, number, tense, or person for another. Synonymous with enallage. [Some rhetoricians claim that alleotheta is a] general category that includes antiptosis [(a type of enallage in which one grammatical case is substituted for another)] and all forms of enallage [(the substitution of grammatically different but semantically equivalent constructions)].


We was goin’ to hell faster ‘n anybody could ever think. Stick up men, we having what we want for taking it—pull her out of the cash register, shoot the clerk, and drive off. GPS says there’s a gas station up ahead. Better lock and load Johnny. We need a fill up.


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

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Alliteration

Alliteration (al-lit’-er-a’-tion): Repetition of the same letter or sound within nearby words. Most often, repeated initial consonants. Taken to an extreme alliteration becomes the stylistic vice of paroemion where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant.


It was 1966 (I think). Viet Nam was happening, I had just graduated from high school, and I joined the Army. I wanted the educational benefits for college that enlistment afforded, and to be a paratrooper too—totally trusting it would be as good as the recruiter said it would be. What the recruiter didn’t tell me was that I had enlisted for three years guaranteeing only that I’d be a paratrooper. I didn’t know I was supposed to be guaranteed a job specialty (MOS) as one of the benefits of enlisting—draftees were put where the Army wanted them to be. Given my naivety, I was the equivalent of a draftee: the Army would assign me an MOS and I would train for it at an Army post somewhere in the US.

When I completed my basic training, I was assigned to Military Police training at Ft. Gordon, GA. I learned how to direct traffic, catch criminals, drive with no lights at night, beat bad guys with a baton (ha ha, just kidding).

There’s a lot more to my Army story, BUT I did get the educational benefits and they saved my life. I am forever grateful for that.


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

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Allusion

Allusion (ə-ˈlü-zhən):[1] A reference/representation of/to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art . . . “a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage”. It is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection . . . ; an overt allusion is a misnomer for what is simply a reference.[2]


That was totally gonzo, man. I felt like I fell down a rabbit hole with a small group of Picasso people, a copy of Odysseus’ speech in one hand and “Archie” in the other with “Mona Lisa” on the cover. Pollock would’ve been totally proud!


1. Phonetic transcription courtesy of Miriam-Webster’s On-Line Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allusion <3/6/08>.

2. Definition courtesy of Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allusion <3/6/08>.

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Amphibologia

Amphibologia (am’-fi-bo-lo’-gi-a): Ambiguity of grammatical structure, often occasioned by mispunctuation. [A vice of ambiguity.]

I beat my wife for the fiftieth time last night! It never gets old. I love beating her. She’s never bothered and she always comes back for more. What a good sport! I’m going to beat her mercilessly again tonight! If it wasn’t for Scrabble, we’d have nothing to do together.

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

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Ampliatio

Ampliatio (am’-pli-a’-ti-o): Using the name of something or someone before it has obtained that name or after the reason for that name has ceased. A form of epitheton.


(1) Hey Killer!

I can see it in your eyes and the way you lash out at anybody who criticizes you—like the guy who called you out for trying to push him out of line at the vaccine clinic. You fondled your knife and looked like you were going to stab him in the back.

I don’t know where your uncontrollable anger comes from, but I know where it’s going take you. Before you kill somebody, you should get some help or I’ll be calling you Killer when I come to visit you in prison, and the name will fit.

Oh my God! Put down the gun! I was kidding. You are . . .

(2) How’s it goin’ Wild Man?

Those were the days—acid, grass, up all night, sleep all day! What’s up these days? I know they call you Father—the starched collar is a dead giveaway. Your pupils aren’t dilated either! Now, you just take a big slug of wine on Sundays, a far cry from the nightly bottle of Old Grandad we used to steal from the liquor store and share under the bridge down by the river. Ha ha!

I’m looking for a benefactor to invest some money in my start-up website, “Boppin’ Mamas.” Given our past, I think you’re a perfect candidate for a little front money. Get my drift Father Wild Man? We don’t want our past to be today’s front page news! Do we?

Oh Jesus, no! Ow! Stop for God’s sake! Put down the Chalice! Can’t you see? I’m bleeding all over—no, no, I was just kid. . .


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

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Anacoeosis

Anacoenosis (an’-a-ko-en-os’-is): Asking the opinion or judgment of the judges or audience, usually implying their common interest with the speaker in the matter [and illustrating their communally-held ideals of truth, justice, goodness and beauty, for better and for worse].


I have been worried. I have been full of confidence. There are countless other opposing feelings that we move between. We share the volatility of life’s pressures. Haven’t you awakened happy in morning’s sunshine rays only to find yourself angry and sad at the end of the day sitting on a bar stool ordering another shot and a beer? You know what it’s like to be skulking around the house angry at your partner for maxing the credit card and feeling the anger melt when you see your child’s toy bunny lying on its side on floor—the bunny your partner bought 8 years ago for your daughter’s first Easter—the bunny she still loves.

The examples I’ve cited may not exactly fit your lives, but the point they make probably does. Aren’t our lives filled with a strange instability? Isn’t our trajectory through life a wavy line—zig zags, peaks and valleys, highs and lows?

Instead of looking for a joyous straight line through life, accept the peaks and valleys because they are inevitable—they give meaning to life. Ironically, if you insist on living on the high side in some sort of manic trance, your insistence has already been thwarted by the opposition of life’s flow.

And you may embrace the negativity at the bottom of the hill holding tight with opiates, or resentment, or the mysteries of mental illness. You may act as if negativity were your lover, unable to let go by any means: rejecting appropriate medication, psychological counseling, listening to the people who love you, or by staying busy.

Desiring to stay on the mountain top or ‘stuck’ in the valley, you are doing battle with life’s sustaining flow: CHANGE. There is no sustainable ‘middle.’ There is the omnipresence of movement—mental, physical—it does not matter. Change beckons. Change demands. Change changes for better and for worse.

How many of you have heard the saying: “Life has its ups and downs”? Like most cliches, it’s true. There is no Never Never Land. Hoping and coping we move toward the inevitable.


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

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Anacoloutha

Anacoloutha (an-a-co’-lu-tha): Substituting one word with another whose meaning is very close to the original, but in a non-reciprocal fashion; that is, one could not use the first, original word as a substitute for the second. This is the opposite of acoloutha.


His tongue is Italian. Who didn’t know? If you ever met him you knew. He was made in Genoa from head to toe. He is proud of his origins and his professorship at the university, but it was his tongue that got him into trouble and cost him his job.


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

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Anacoluthon

Anacoluthon (an-a-co-lu’-thon): A grammatical interruption or lack of implied sequence within a sentence. That is, beginning a sentence in a way that implies a certain logical resolution, but concluding it differently than the grammar leads one to expect. Anacoluthon can be either a grammatical fault or a stylistic virtue, depending on its use. In either case, it is an interruption or a verbal lack of symmetry. Anacoluthon is characteristic of spoken language or interior thought, and thus suggests those domains when it occurs in writing.


The time is right, the day is long, my socks are too big. Where is my hope—the car won’t start—but the time is still right. Right for nothing, or maybe, reading the car’s owner’s manual which is in German, a language I don’t understand, like religion, or May Day, or lighting a fire, or roasting a chicken. Buck buck ba-dawk-it, not cock-a-doodle poodle! Don’t worry, I’m ok. Just trying to be funny and failing.

Anyway, as I was previously headed to Newark, my foot fell asleep.


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

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Anadiplosis

Anadiplosis (an’-a-di-plo’-sis): The repetition of the last word (or phrase) from the previous line, clause, or sentence at the beginning of the next. Often combined with climax.


Why are there people who refuse to wear masks in this time of pandemic? What motivates these maskless people? People form their opinions about these kinds of things from what they see, hear, and read and perhaps a life-long commitment to resisting or subverting dictates, failing to realize that disobedience implies obedience to whatever dictates their disobedience. One cannot evade obedience.

I am willing to guess that the anti-maskers live their lives in the “anti” lane avowing rationales for their untoward behavior that are couched in higher-order values that, in their views, carry more weight than the values operative in the “mandates” they are resisting. One would think that saving lives and curtailing the pandemic by wearing masks would be the paramount value operative in debates over government mask-wearing mandates, but that’s not the case. The arguments have come down to the government’s right to make and enforce the mask mandates—not the public health aims of the mandates as rationales for their acceptance.

Acceptance of mandates is irksome, but that shouldn’t empower people to reject them as such. The COVID 19 crisis isn’t fabricated—nearly 3 million people have died. I guess if they want to kill a few more people (possibly including themselves) in the name of liberty, go maskless, and while they’re at it, don’t get vaccinated and be remembered as narcissistic sociopaths, not as a champions of liberty.


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

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