Monthly Archives: May 2010


Anthimeria (an-thi-mer’-i-a): Substitution of one part of speech for another (such as a noun used as a verb [or a verb used as a noun]).

Let’s tomato the Democrat candidate!

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


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.)

Over one month ago the oil rig Deep Horizon exploded and 11 people were killed, and the oil still gushes from the blown out well–barrels and barrels and barrels and barrels of water-polluting, and wildlife-killing, and coastline-wrecking oil.  And soon, the hurricanes will come, and nobody knows what the combination of 120+ mph winds, and surging sea water, and millions of gallons of oil will do to the Gulf of Mexico and its contiguous shorelines. One thing is for certain though: our nation’s dependence on fossil fuel (for profit and power) trumps all the imaginable catastrophic consequences of crude oil flowing up from beneath the sea through 5,000 feet of pipe.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Adage (ad’-age): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings, or traditional expressions of conventional wisdom. [Others include apothegm, gnome, maxim, paroemia, proverb, sententia, and anamnesis {a related figure}]

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

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


Epitheton (e-pith’-e-ton): Attributing to a person or thing a quality or description-sometimes by the simple addition of a descriptive adjective; sometimes through a descriptive or metaphorical apposition.  (Note: If the description is given in place of the name, instead of in addition to it, it becomes antonomasia or periphrasis.)

Ricky is a rogue bulldozer.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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. What a stunning Taser!

2. Savings saved save the future.

3. Tom Cruise was on a cruise until he called psychology a “pseudoscience” on NBC’s Today Show back in 2005.

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


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

Promotions promote employee morale (as long as the people who’re promoted obviously deserve the recognition).

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Aphorismus (a-phor-is’-mus): Calling into question the proper use of a word.

They call it an accident. We call it criminal negligence. We’re waiting for the indictments.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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.)

Let’s go to death on a bun for lunch.

Those shoes are so Hollywood.

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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.

Selfishness thwarts charity; narrow-mindedness, learning; pride, everything else.

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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 stock market’s triple digit dip freaked out the 401K crowd, panicked the portfolio managers, and sent shockwaves across the world’s financial markets.

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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.

The measure of your happiness is the friends you make. The measure of your success is the differences you make. The measure of your character is the decisions you make. The measure of your measure is the measures you take. Do you measure up?

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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].

I am a big mean jelly bean.

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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 clock is ticking. The oil is gushing. The repairs are failing.

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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.).

I opened the refrigerator door.  The cream cheese begged for a bagel. The carrot yelled “Eat me! Eat me instead! Don’t listen to the cream cheese! Stay on your diet!” I listened to the carrot. I stayed on my diet. I am grateful. Yet, I have mixed feelings about eating such a loyal friend.

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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.

Unbelievable! You threw away my Start Trek bathrobe! Unbelievable! I’ve had it since high school!  It’s a piece of history–Captain Kirk’s picture on the pocket–the Enterprise–the crew–the Klingons–the Tribbles–a visual chronicle of every major Star Trek episode!  So what if  I look like an idiot wearing it around the house all weekend? Our grandchildren think it’s cool.  It’s like you threw away the best years of my life!

Beam me up Scottie! I’m going back to the ship.

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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.

Here we are dear wife, still together, still happy–still friends–still loving every minute of it after 16 years!

Time, you are definitely on our side! You have tested our love.  You have refined our love. You have made us whole. Time after time–what a great time!

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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.

Should I mow the lawn right now?  1. Do I have the time? Not really. 2. Does the lawn actually need mowing right now? Not really.  3. Did I just take delivery of a new red lawn tractor with four-wheel drive, a 60-inch mower deck, air-conditioned cab, and an i-pod dock?  Yes. So, should I mow the lawn right now? What are you nuts? Of course I should!

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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 need a new ballpoint. This one’s out of ink.

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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.

It’s Bill again–unpaid Bill! Three months, no money. Tonight, we take back the car. Call the sheriff.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Saw baby saw! Go ahead, cut down another tree! It’s ok with me!

Saw baby saw–cut them all!  Save our struggling shopping mall!

We need a bigger parking lot.  So, I say “Why not?”  All that asphalt’s nobody’s fault–it’s by design–it’s like a big strip mine that will fill with chugging dollar signs–Escalades, Hyundais, soccer vans,  and pickup trucks will soon be queuing  up–they’ll all be parking there, filled with shoppers shopping here!

Call me a visionary if you like!

Saw baby saw!

Save our struggling shopping mall!

That patch of tar and stone will benefit us all (not to mention my little business in the mall)–the parking lot is worth so much more than a wasteland filled with trees that harbor wild squirrels and dirty birds–untamed beasts and fowl that harass our kids, build unsightly nests, chatter and caw, dig for nuts, and crap on our windshields.

Saw baby saw!

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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. I took a new shortcut to school. Yes, an abbreviated and novel route took me to campus.

2. It is painful to be blamed. To be praised is joyful.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Correctio (cor-rec’-ti-o): The amending of a term or phrase just employed; or, a further specifying of meaning, especially by indicating what something is not (which may occur either before or after the term or phrase used). A kind of redefinition, often employed as a parenthesis (an interruption) or as a climax.

All we’re asking for is food, shelter, and clothing–no wait–we can’t just leave it at that–what we’re asking for, and what we really need is decent food, decent shelter, decent clothing–not pig slop, huts, and rags!

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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 made the high honor roll! Let’s celebrate!

2. If pain should be avoided, pleasure should be pursued.

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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}.]

Don’t look now, but Bulging Biceps is smiling at you. Oh là là!

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


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.

I’m not going to say anything about your constant nose picking at the dinner table, but there are things that people do in public that are impolite, uncouth, and disgusting.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (