Monthly Archives: March 2008


Synthesis (sin’-the-sis): An apt arrangement of a composition, especially regarding the sounds of adjoining syllables and words.

What a wonderful way to while away the day. Walking along the Bahamian beach–warm waves washing across my feet. I came here from the snow, and now I know why we fly from nearly anywhere to get here–where the days fade into nights, the weather is just right, my cell phone’s gone dead, and what’s right here, right now, fills my head with the promise of another day away.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

This is not the usual thing they would try in those situations. Get my drift?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

This is the greatest place in the world–with the exception of our cabin in the woods!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

I must go now–my family needs me.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.]

All you good people who are and aren’t our friends, who move through life uninterrupted by guilt and shame, with open hearts and and eyes wide open, affecting charity at every turn, we praise you.

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


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

You have a future. It is quite clear: debt, dissolution, disaster. Stop abusing your credit card. Stop abusing your body. Slow down. Pull over. Seek help. Call home.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Assumptio (as-sump’-ti’o): The introduction of a point to be considered, especially an extraneous argument. See proslepsis (When paralipsis [stating and drawing attention to something in the very act of pretending to pass it over] is taken to its extreme. The speaker provides full details.).

Let’s not even consider the political significance of the candidates’ clothing choices. After all, choices are only choices, and what the candidates choose to wear is beside the point, right? Take John McCain for example . . .

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Apodixis (a-po-dix’-is): Proving a statement by referring to common knowledge or general experience.

I did not take your camera!  I just bought a brand new one that’s actually better than yours. Why would I even want yours, let alone, take it? Give me a break.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Eustathia (yoos-tay’-thi-a): Promising constancy in purpose and affection.

I promise you my love is true–always everywhere the same–immutable–unchanging–absolute.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Tasis (ta’-sis): Sustaining the pronunciation of a word or phrase because of its pleasant sound. A figure apparent in delivery.

The vicissitudes of life–these vicissitudes–these mutable, contingent, humbling challenges that ebb and flow and come and go as every day turns, and night returns, and waking falls to sleep: the refuge and haven from the vicissitudes of life.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Traductio (tra-duk’-ti-o): Repeating the same word variously throughout a sentence or thought. Some authorities restrict traductio further to mean repeating the same word but with a different meaning (see ploce, antanaclasis, and diaphora), or in a different form (=polyptoton. . . . ). If the repeated word occurs in parallel fashion at the beginnings of phrases or clauses, it becomes anaphora; at the endings of phrases or clauses, epistrophe.

A day without at least one mistake is a day that is a mistake.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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. Truthful, honest, straightforward friends!

2. This road is long.  This road is wide.  This road is narrow.  This road leads  everywhere.  And we’ve been on this road–we’ve been riding this road–we’ve been walking this road–we’ve been traveling this road.  And we’re taking our message of hope wherever it leads us–to the large houses, to the farm houses, to the apartment houses, to the cabins, and the condos, the mobile homes and the developments–big and small–to the homes of the free and the homes of the brave, to the tired hungry undaunted souls on the streets and under the overpasses.  To all of you: The future is wide open. Change is on the road. Change is headed for Washington, D.C. Hope is moving to the White House!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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]

The defendant took the stand ready to address the prosecutor’s pointed and harsh questioning. As the first difficult and deeply personal question was addressed with a sneer, she took it up and responded clearly, calmly, and concisely without wavering.  It was no apology, but Socrates would’ve been proud.

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1. Phonetic transcription courtesy of Miriam-Webster’s On-Line Dictionary: <3/6/08>.

2. Definition courtesy of Wikipedia: <3/6/08>.


Pathopoeia ( path-o-poy’-a): A general term for speech that moves hearers emotionally, especially as the speaker attempts to elicit an emotional response by way of demonstrating his/her own feelings (exuscitatio). Melanchthon explains that this effect is achieved by making reference to any of a variety of pathetic circumstances: the time, one’s gender, age, location, etc.

“I am worn out, hungry, homeless, cold, and sick. I need help. Can I stay in this shelter tonight? Can I have some hot soup? Can I see a doctor?”  I heard this last night, and I hear some version of it nearly every night, at the homeless shelter where I work. I wanted to answer “Yes” to all the questions, but I couldn’t, and it broke my heart.

We can provide shelter.  We can provide meals, but we can’t provide any kind of medical assistance. When will I be able to answer “Yes, yes, yes” to those three basic life-sustaining questions? Shelter? Food? Medicine?

Well, now it’s your turn to answer: Will you volunteer? Will you be on call? Will you answer “Yes” when a homeless person asks “Can I see a doctor?” Will you help? What is your answer? Is it “Yes”?

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 Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Parrhesia (par-rez’-i-a): Either to speak candidly or to ask forgiveness for so speaking. Sometimes considered a vice.

You didn’t make the cut. Clear out your locker. You’re off the team.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Paroemion (par-mi’-on)Alliteration taken to an extreme where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant. Sometimes, simply a synonym for alliteration or for homoeoprophoron [a stylistic vice].

The delicious doughnut drew delicate designs, drizzling delectable damson drops down Dave’s duck-down vest. “Darn!” Dave declared dragging his dripping dukes across the dreadfully delightful disaster.

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