Monthly Archives: August 2007


Enallage (e-nal’-la-ge): The substitution of grammatically different but semantically equivalent constructions.

I climbed that mountain. That mountain was climbed by me!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Once upon a time there was a grand kingdom of learning perched high on a hill with a quiet glen cut through its midst. The kingdom’s well-kept environs consisted of the Way of Mortin, lush quadrangles surrounded by oak trees and blanketed with grass, wide playing fields, a Center to visit to stay physically fit, a Commons whereat to take meals, a Small Pub for the quaffing of fine beverages and the quenching of thirsts, many many-windowed living quarters, a Royal Palace, well-lit comfortable sriptoria, a well-stocked library, and grand ramparts of native rock, turrets of crystalline glass, mortar vaults, and shining tall metallic structures where the kingdom’s learned mentors gathered in their ranks–the Assistants, the Associates, and the Full Total Wizards–where they met their youthful charges in chambers of education fitted with grand portals open to capture the fleet herds of Wisdom galloping over the broad-banded byways of the Queen’s Superhighway–an invisible toll road rumored to have been credited by Albert the Gorer to himself; binding all the kingdom’s inhabitants together in its mystical, and somewhat fickle, embrace.

The kingdom daily celebrated MacIntosh the Conqueror who made the Queen’s Superhighway quick to travel and who provided intrepid mice to guide all Wisdom Hunters–intrepid mice perched as brave navigators on the palms of Wisdom Hunters’ hands as they sought advice by way of Word-Keys from the Great Oracle Google (GOG) so as to unerringly target, capture, and claim specific Truths from Wisdom’s infinite herds.

And this grand kingdom of learning was known as Hamilot. And all was well at Hamilot until that fateful day . . .

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Anaphora (an-aph’-o-ra): Repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines.

I love my daughter. I love my wife. I love my job. I love my life.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Litotes (li-to’-tees): Deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite. The Ad Herennium author suggests litotes as a means of expressing modesty (downplaying one’s accomplishments) in order to gain the audience’s favor (establishing ethos).

Finding your kitten was no big deal, and driving 20 miles out of my way to bring him home to you was the least I could do.  I can’t imagine you offering me a reward!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Antanaclasis (an’-ta-na-cla’-sis): The repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance.

There isn’t much room, but at least I finally have my own room!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Hey–stop barking or I may bark right back at you!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Antimetabole (an’-ti-me-ta’-bo-lee): Repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order.

Hope to liveLive to hope!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Heterogenium (he’-ter-o-gen’-i-um): Avoiding an issue by changing the subject to something different. Sometimes considered a vice.

You want to know why I forgot your birthday? That’s not the right question. The right question is: Who ran over my golf clubs in the driveway? They’re destroyed!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Aporia (a-po’-ri-a): 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 [=diaporesis].

What should I do with my lottery winnings? Buy real estate? Invest in a mutual fund? The money market? Bonds? Gold? Buy more lottery tickets? Ah! Here’s a plan: buy my mother the poodle she’s always wanted, hire a financial advisor, and then go to a Red Sox game! No. Not good. Let’s see, maybe I should . . . ?

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


Bomphiologia (bom-phi-o-lo’-gi-a): Exaggeration done in a self-aggrandizing manner, as a braggart.

I am so cool that I can make it snow in Florida on the Fourth of July! Goodbye global warming–Mr. Ice is on the planet!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

You think you will be vindicated by history, but your pettiness, stubbornness, and complete lack of foresight will make your name synonymous with incompetence until the end of time!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Paronomasia (pa-ro-no-ma’-si-a): Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning).

Fashion maven to police officer: “That Taser you’re wearing is a stunning piece of equipment.”

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

You have as much of a chance of changing his mind about buying a motorcycle as a cinder block has of doing your income taxes!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.”

Please, for the sake of the children–for God’s sake–stop driving like a maniac! Slow down!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Epimone (e-pi’-mo-nee): Persistent repitition of the same plea in much the same words.

You promised to pay me back two days ago. Give me the money now. I trusted you. Pay me back now. I want my money! Pay me!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Every person, every city, every state, and every nation is a facet of the same shining gem–circling the sun in numbered orbits–circling toward the end.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.

He was a listless muddled nobody on pot quietly rolling some totally uncool vortex weed.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

The King’s wearing his metal sparkly-hat again!

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Definition courtesy of: “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Anesis (an’-e-sis): Adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis.

He was smart, funny, and generally open to new ideas.  However, his temper was off the charts.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (