Monthly Archives: September 2007


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.)

1. Wide Stance was back in the news again last week!

2. When it comes to national health care policies, that candidate’s not exactly a Hillary.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Epizeugma (ep-i-zoog’-ma): Placing the verb that holds together the entire sentence (made up of multiple parts that depend upon that verb) either at the very beginning or the very ending of that sentence.

Go to each and every day with hope and love. You owe it to yourself.

To each and every day, with hope and love go. You owe it to yourself.


Drove I my rusty old truck.

My rusty old truck I drove.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Hypozeuxis  (hyp-o-zook’-sis): Opposite of zeugma. Every clause has its own verb.

The driver sipped coffee, the passengers yacked, and the van rolled on through the night.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Honesty engenders trust. Courage, loyalty. Foresight, prudence.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.

The extended heat wave overtaxed the power supply, made the outside air nearly unbreathable, and forced large numbers of people to seek relief in the air-conditioned shopping mall.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Symploce (sim’-plo-see or sim’-plo-kee): The combination of anaphora and epistrophe: beginning a series of lines, clauses, or sentences with the same word or phrase while simultaneously repeating a different word or phrase at the end of each element in this series.

Without reason, you press ahead. Without compassion, you press ahead. Without prudence, you press ahead. When will you stop? When will it end? When will you come to your senses?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Antiprosopopoeia (an-ti-pro-so-po-pe’-i-a): The representation of persons [or other animate beings] as inanimate objects. This inversion of prosopopoeia or personification can simply be the use of a metaphor to depict or describe a person [or other animate being].

Our dog is a smelly rug.

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


Isocolon (i-so-co’-lon): A series of similarly structured elements having the same length. A kind of parallelism.

The past. The present. The future. Then. Now. Later. Later is later than you think!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.).

The wind answered my question with gusty clarity–its chilling voice moving every leaf and every branch on every swaying tree: “Yes, the season is changing. Now, see the leaves fly! Now, see the geese fly! Today, I tell you, I am a harbinger.  Behold, I bring you fall!”

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Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Two lousy points! Why do we always lose? Why can’t we ever win? Two lousy points! I quit!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Apostrophe (a-pos’-tro-phe): Turning one’s speech from one audience to another. Most often, apostrophe occurs when one addresses oneself to an abstraction, to an inanimate object, or to the absent.

Well Mom, although you’re gone, I know you’re up there watching me–I promised you I would finish college some day, and today, I did. Thanks Mom, and thanks to all the other people in my life–from my wonderful daughter and amazing wife to the professors I had who took the time, and cared enough about me, to help me change, and even possibly save, my life.

And now, after giving thanks, it’s time ask “What’s Next?” “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” “What are we going to do with the rest of our lives?”

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Apophasis (a-pof’-a-sis): The rejection of several reasons why a thing should or should not be done and affirming a single one, considered most valid.

When he told her she had to sit at the back of the bus, she could have simply complied; but compliance with injustice perpetuates it. When he told her she had to sit at the back of the bus, she could have stepped off the bus and walked away; but walking away from evil leaves it lashing at those who remain. So, she held her place–she held her seat.  And abiding in a higher law that’s written in all of our hearts, she faced wickedness with resistance–with courage and dignity.  And on that day she showed us what it takes to deliver ourselves from tyranny.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Synecdoche (si-nek’-do-kee): A whole is represented by naming one of its parts (or genus named for species), or vice versa (or species named for genus).

I got some new heels–check them out: sterling silver buckles, emerald suede–Prada, Prada, Prada all the way!

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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.

This tomato will not be a tomato until it becomes the “T” in a BLT!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Homoioteleuton (ho-mee-o-te-loot’-on): Similarity of endings of adjacent or parallel words.

Your policies are criticized because they’re considered by experts to be ill-conceived. Your proposals are not oriented toward the interests of the people you serve, and consequently, they too are poorly received. In fact, almost nothing of importance that you’ve said in the past six months has been generally believed.  In sum, your administration’s motto, most aptly put, should be: “Nothing Achieved!”

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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).

1. She believes I trust her totally, so, fearing deception, I watch her every move. Vigilant to a fault, I’m afraid she’s going to lie to me because she is confident of my absolute confidence in her.  What a mess this is!

2. It is hard to meet lofty goals; to fail to meet them is easy.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Enthymeme (en’-thy-meem): 1. The informal method [or figure] of reasoning typical of rhetorical discourse. The enthymeme is sometimes defined as a “truncated syllogism” since either the major or minor premise found in that more formal method of reasoning is left implied. The enthymeme typically occurs as a conclusion coupled with a reason. When several enthymemes are linked together, this becomes sorites. 2.  A figure of speech which bases a conclusion on the truth of its contrary. [Depending on its grammatical structure and specific word choice, it may be chiasmus].

1. You have yet to meet a single deadline I have set! I can’t assign this project to you.

2. If violence should be condemned, then gentleness should be applauded.

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


Metonymy (me-ton’-y-my): Reference to something or someone by naming one of its attributes. [This may include effects or any of the four Aristotelian causes {efficient/maker/inventor, material, formal/shape, final/purpose}.]

Wearing his trusty Chucks he tore across the boards. He picked off the flying b-ball and pushed it through the air. Just like magic, he put three big ones up in lights. Now the score was tied–seconds to go–we were all up on our feet yelling our heads off!

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


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.

You tell me–who wouldn’t have made those remarks after being verbally assaulted–after being slandered–by a so-called “friend” of the American people? Yes, you’re right–somebody with no self respect–that’s who! Well, let me tell you–that person isn’t me and never will be me. Enough said. Case closed. Now, let’s get back on track, and let’s remember to respect each other no matter how deeply we may disagree. But let’s also remember that we owe it to ourselves and to the people we serve to vigorously challenge outright lies and false accusations and call to account those individuals who tell and make them.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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 is time to trace out the hidden interests driving these decisions, that, on the surface seem to be bringing us to a better place, when, in fact, they’re leading us off track.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Antithesis (an-tith’-e-sis): Juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, although not always, in parallel structure).

We should fear life as much as we fear death; for life is death’s portal!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Anamnesis (an’-am-nee’-sis): Calling to memory past matters. More specifically, citing a past author [apparently] from memory.  Anamnesis helps to establish ethos [credibility], since it conveys the idea that the speaker is knowledgeable of the received wisdom from the past.

It was John Adams who said “Facts are stubborn things.” Following in Adams’s footsteps, but swerving a little off course as he did from time to time, Ronald Reagan once said, “Facts are stupid things.” At least they both agreed that facts are things–whether they’re stubborn or stupid, or neither, or both, there’s no doubt that the facts of the matter must be taken into account, no matter how much one would wish they did not exist.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Gorgias has inserted the bracketed words [apparently] and [credibility].

Quotation from “The Quotations Page” (


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.

If you can’t handle the uncertainty, uncertainty may cause you to panic, panic may cause you to act without reason, and acting without reason, you have no reason to act, aside from your uncertainty!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Paralipsis (par-a-lip’-sis): Stating and drawing attention to something in the very act of pretending to pass it over (see also cataphasis). A kind of irony.

On a day like this, at a gathering such as this, it would be totally inappropriate to mention our esteemed office manager’s creative accounting practices, his crafty habit of “rescuing” our lunches from the refrigerator in the copy room, and his marvelous capacity for taking credit for nearly every good thing that happens around here, when, in fact, he can’t even turn on his own computer!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

I’m not going to talk about all the pain you’ve caused–the people you’ve exploited and treated like trash–the squandered retirement funds and the bogus stock deals. Instead, I’m going to talk about ethical business practices, following the law, and my firm’s absolute commitment to both.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (