Monthly Archives: February 2017


Asyndeton (a-syn’-de-ton): The omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect. [Compare brachylogia. Opposite of polysyndeton.]

Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. This traffic is driving me crazy. This is supposed to be a freeway to somewhere & somewhere soon! Instead, it’s turning into a slow-motion montage of frustrated drivers and complaining passengers.

Does anybody know a shortcut, bypass, pass, passage–anything to get us out of here before tomorrow?

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


Auxesis (ok-see’-sis): (1) Arranging words or clauses in a sequence of increasing force. In this sense, auxesis is comparable to climax and has sometimes been called incrementum.  (2) A figure of speech in which something is referred to in terms disproportionately large (a kind of exaggeration or hyperbole). (3) Amplification in general.

(1) At first we were irritated, then angry, now horrified and outraged!

We read the news. We trust the news. I have heard more lies masked as hyperbole coming from the White House than I’ve ever experienced from the press. All I can do is ask “What the hell is going on?”

(2) I look at Washington, DC and get the impression that our liberal democracy is on the verge of disappearing–of turning into a puff of smoke (and mirrors).

I am worried more these days than ever before about the health of the Republic, even as “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” I am fearful that “liberty and justice for all” will somehow get deleted (perhaps by an executive order critical of fake patriotism).

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Bdelygmia (del-ig’-mi-a): Expressing hatred and abhorrence of a person, word, or deed.

You are a leaky filthy bulbous bag of snail slime (sorry snails). You leave a trail of glistening lies behind you wherever you go.

Unfortunately, there are people who follow your glistening trails.  They seem to prefer shiny slime trails over trails paved with dull truth. When faced with the assertion that there’s a difference between a disgusting excretion going nowhere and a road that actually leads to a humane destination, they yell “Boooo!” and follow the slime.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Listen to this: I had the most Electoral College votes ever recorded in the history of democracy. The people love me. They do! Believe me! That’s no exaggeration. It’s wonderful.  It’s great. It’s huge. Once in a lifetime! A mandate!

Oh–and by the way. One month in office: I’ve boosted the economy & cut the national debt. I’m not kidding! It’s true–national debt is down by $12 billion. That’s a lot of dollars! $12 billion! It’s true.  It’s fabulous. Believe me! You’ve got to love it!

It’s all good! There is no stopping me & there’s no stopping you!

Thank you for your support!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Brachylogia (brach-y-lo’-gi-a): The absence of conjunctions between single words. Compare asyndeton. The effect of brachylogia is a broken, hurried delivery.

Daytime. Nighttime. Morning. Noon. Evening. Lunch. Brunch. Breakfast. Dinner. Who cares?

There is no time that I’m not thinking of you.

You are my private poem, my aria, my ernest prayer, my favorite dream come true!

By the way, what’s your name? Ha ha! That’s a joke! (allusion to Jim Morrison).

You know I love you!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Cacozelia (ka-ko-zeel’-i-a): 1. A stylistic affectation of diction, such as throwing in foreign words to appear learned.  2. Bad taste in words or selection of metaphor, either to make the facts appear worse or to disgust the auditors.

Uncle Bill!

He is a leech at your dinner table: You, brother Dave, suck up your food as if you were latched onto a foot or an arm, or somebody’s unfortunate neck, or armpit, or crotch. Not only that, but in another meaning of leech, you wheedle money from our poor unfortunate uncle Bill who is blinded by love for our father and the deathbed promise he made eight years ago to take care of you, the youngest.

It’s time to get your act together you disgusting fool: At least get some table manners–wipe away your dripping drool and get rid of that jacket camouflaged with specs of soup, spatters of gravy, small bits of assorted meats and jellies, and what looks like blood, but is probably beet juice. And using the coat’s sleeves as napkins has made them stiff and soiled with what, only God can tell. Also, wiping your nose on your sleeves has given them a mucus sheen–not very attractive, Dave. The jacket is a roadmap where all roads lead to Slob.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Catachresis (kat-a-kree’-sis): The use of a word in a context that differs from its proper application. This figure is generally considered a vice; however, Quintilian defends its use as a way by which one adapts existing terms to applications where a proper term does not exist.

X: I baked your dreams at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes. Now, they ought to be delicious nightmares.

Y: What? “Baked my dreams”? “Delicious nightmares”? What the heck are you talking about? Do you know what catachresis is? Look it up!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Catacosmesis (kat-a-kos-mees’-is): Ordering words from greatest to least in dignity, or in correct order of time.

There is darkness. There is light. There is a beginning. There is an ending.

I sit on the scar–the red crooked scar dug into my body by my cruel questioners. They called it enhanced interrogation. I called it torture.

I did not have, do not have–I will NEVER have–the answers they were looking for. So, I lied to get out of hell. And then, I travelled light, mostly under cover of darkness, and after a few days, I crossed the border.


I am free now. A refugee welcomed to your country with open arms, smiles, food, shelter, clothing. I call what you’re doing for me ‘enhanced charity.’ You call it ‘what we do.’

I am grateful–first, to be alive, and second, to be here among such a wonderfully humane group of people. Thank you for helping me apply for a visa to settle in Canada so I may be reunited with my wife and daughters.

Thank you.

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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 am not going to talk about the stream of misinformation trickling from the White House. I’m not going to talk about the leaks, the so-called “fake” news, and the disrespect addressed to the “reporter” community.

Why bother?

Instead, I’m going to limit myself to speaking about the social benefits of smoking cigarettes and the unfairness of the high taxes levied on them by state and local governments: a pack of Marlboros costs nearly $11.00 outside of New York City & in New York City, they cost around  $12.00-$14.00.

Moreover, I will be speaking about the restrictions placed on where you may smoke, and how old you have to be to legally light up.

OK, now:

First, the social benefits of smoking. Gathered together in a smoke-filled room with your . . .

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

Once upon a time you held me near and dear. Now, you’re slowly tearing me apart and piece-by-piece tossing me into love’s trash bin.

At first I was filled with sorrow, then pain, now anger.

Are you wondering what I’m going to do with my anger? Honestly, I don’t know, but you better keep your eyes wide open day and night.

Something is bound to happen.

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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.

This is the fourth time today that you’ve had something disrespectful to say to me. But hey, who’s counting?

I am!

Do it one more time and I’m going home.

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).

Another day, another fiasco. Screwing up every day!

At a press conference the other day, the President said (among other things), “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

Is that something to be proud of?

There’s a huge difference between being the least X and not being X at all!

Am I missing something? Is there some aspect I’ve overlooked?

Did he ‘really’ mean by what he said that he is not anti-Semitic?

I don’t know.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Chronographia (chro-no-graph’-i-a): Vivid representation of a certain historical or recurring time (such as a season) to create an illusion of reality. A kind of enargia: [the] generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description.

Every direction I look there is snow–heavy, wet, incorrigible snow. As I pull on my giant black rubber boots, I’m glad that all I need to do is shovel the porch and make a narrow path the the garage’s back door. So, I plunge in the snow shovel.

I hit something softer than the hard-packed snow. I dig it up.

It is a now-headless toy mouse: one of my cat’s many toys. It is leaking catnip; sort of seasoning the pristine snow with the catnip’s dark-greenish-brown flakes. I plunge my hand into the snow to find the toy mouse’s head. I stir it around. I can’t find it.

I look up and see the cat looking at me through the back door’s window. His yellow eyes widen as he surveys the cat-toy carnage. I put the decapitated toy in my jacket pocket after dumping out all of the catnip.

I finish the path to the garage. I go inside and deposit the headless toy in the trash.

I head back inside the house & there’s the cat still sitting there: eyes wide, back straight, black tail twitching.

Nervously, I open the back door and try to explain what happened as I’m coming through the door into the mud room. I don’t even finish my first sentence when the cat walks three feet and flops down by the heat duct blowing nice warm air.

“Why do I even bother?” I say to myself. Some day I’ll get the answer, but until then, I’ll just keep asking the question, the question with no readily available answer: “Why do I even bother?”

Maybe I should ask the cat.

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


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

I woke up this morning to the ongoing media drumbeat–thump, thump, thump, we must dump Trump.

The radio says investigate him, question him, impeach him.

The Facebook news feeds say investigate him, question him, impeach him.

Twitter says investigate him, question him, impeach him.

Many Democrats say investigate him, question him, impeach him.

Most Republicans say nothing at all, except to complain about the “leaks” from the intelligence community–primarily CIA and NSA.

Bear this in mind: Republicans aren’t accusing CIA and NSA of lying. Rather they are accusing them of leaking.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Coenotes (cee’-no-tees): Repetition of two different phrases: one at the beginning and the other at the end of successive paragraphs. Note: Composed of anaphora and epistrophecoenotes is simply a more specific kind of symploce (the repetition of phrases, not merely words).

Lying politicians pose a significant threat to our nation’s solvency.  The Republic depends on truth as a central source of sustenance. The Republic can become weak and collapse under the weight of misrepresentations made by political actors.

Again, lying politicians pose a significant threat to our nation’s solvency. Now, what’s the difference between a lie and a factually incorrect statement that you know is factually incorrect, but you represent as true? Answer: None.

So, is President Trump lying about the busloads of illicit voters who invaded NH from MA and affected the election? Or, does he actually believe it’s true?

If he believes it’s true, he is currently the most gullible person on planet Earth. He has taken up the belief with no evidence. There must be an advisor in the White House he trusts more than God!

Which is worse: being a liar or being mega-gullible–being easily duped?

I think President Trump is lying–and never forget:

Lying politicians pose a significant threat to our nation’s solvency and the Republic can become weak and collapse under the weight of misrepresentations made by political actors.

Good riddance Flynn.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Colon (ko’-lon): Roughly equivalent to “clause” in English, except that the emphasis is on seeing this part of a sentence as needing completion, either with a second colon (or membrum) or with two others (forming a tricolon). When cola (or membra) are of equal length, they form isocolon.

Colon or membrum is also best understood in terms of differing speeds of style that depend upon the length of the elements of a sentence. The Ad Herennium author contrasts the slower speed of concatenated membra to the quicker speed of words joined together without conjunction (articulus).

I worked hard; I went home; I ate dinner.

Go to bed, go to sleep.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Commoratio (kom-mor-a’-ti-o): Dwelling on or returning to one’s strongest argument. Latin equivalent for epimone.

The news is fact-based. Facts can be verified. Calling news “fake ” begs verification. That is, the assertion that a given news story is “fake” ought to be easily verified by all the tests of truthfulness operative on the Internet and anywhere else where verification of facts may be called for in order to engender belief.

To assert that news is “fake” without evidence that it is in fact fake, is actually, itself, fake news, or at best an unverified claim, awaiting verification before it can be taken seriously, and as a fact, believed.

The problem with the “fake news” movement is that it is in itself representative of unverified, and therefore potentially fake news.

So, if you’re going to call it “fake news” please offer some evidence as to why it’s fake–some line of argument that challenges its truthfulness with evidence linked to the verifiable world of facts (AKA reality).

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Comparatio (com-pa-ra’-ti-o): A general term for a comparison, either as a figure of speech or as an argument. More specific terms are generally employed, such as metaphorsimileallegory, etc.

Your leadership style is like a tornado on ice.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (




Comprobatio (com-pro-ba’-ti-o): Approving and commending a virtue, especially in the hearers.

You persisted. You wouldn’t back down. You took personal risks. You gave us all a shining example of courage, non-violence, and wisdom in action–a rare combination of virtues; a rarity that we can’t forget.

The pipeline was put on hold and we hold you responsible for enabling a judge, in good conscience, to see it our way and grant the stay.

Now, we are faced with the stay’s unravelling. Now we are faced with beginning again. I trust you will continue to display the same virtues in action so that we may influence a judge, build sympathy for our cause, and permanently block the pipeline’s construction.


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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Conduplicatio (con-du-pli-ca’-ti-o): The repetition of a word or words. A general term for repetition sometimes carrying the more specific meaning of repetition of words in adjacent phrases or clauses. Sometimes used to name either ploce or epizeuxis.

Trump so far: The first 100 days. The first 100 fiascos. The first 100 tweets. The first 100 regrets. The first 100 people stuck in airports.

The first 100 times I ever had misgivings about American democracy’s ability to elect capable Presidents (no matter what their party affiliation or political agendas) who abide by the Constitution and treat “We the people” with respect.

I’m tired of hearing about fake news, cry babies, and all the other  insults.

The next 100 days: Grow up and start acting like the President of the United States of America, instead of a low-budget gossip columnist sending slop off a Twitter feed whenever the impulse moves you.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Congeries (con’ger-eez): Piling up words of differing meaning but for a similar emotional effect [(akin to climax)].

Ice, slipping. Rain, drenching. Snow, drifting.  Sunshine, blinding. Clouds & snow again–all in one afternoon.  Welcome to Central New York (CNY) where we play weather roulette trying to plan our days and nights around (or in spite of) the weather.

I’m thinking of inventing a combo tool just for CNY: Umbrella, snow brush, ice scraper, an all-in-one weather-thwarting tool.

Sunglasses sold separately.

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


Consonance: The repetition of consonants in words stressed in the same place (but whose vowels differ). Also, a kind of inverted alliteration, in which final consonants, rather than initial or medial ones, repeat in nearby words. Consonance is more properly a term associated with modern poetics than with historical rhetorical terminology.

I thought you went crazy, as hazy as you were about the crash, but cash will bring you back to clarity–a rarity even with money on the table and no accident to speak of.  Now tell us, what happened and it’ll be a payday. Anyway, just tell us what you remember. The more detail, the better.

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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.

I think this is one of the best social events I’ve ever attended!  No, I take that back. This is the best social event I’ve ever been to: the slow dancing frogs were a complete surprise! What can I say–THE BEST!

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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.”

For God’s sake, slow down! There’s no way I want to die in a traffic accident on my way to the mall.

I swear, if you don’t slow down, I’ll call 911 on my cellphone and have you arrested!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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

I know you want to take the bus, but you’ve never been to that part of town before & you don’t know the bus stop you’re looking for–you could get lost on the way to an important appointment & miss it.

I’m reserving you a cab & loaning you my credit card to pay for it. When you go by taxi  you’ll ‘land’ at the front door and won’t have to walk up and down the street looking for the place.

Here’s my credit card. Simple.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (