Periphrasis


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.)

There goes the orange two-legged Fat Glob followed by his pet Cheese of Kiss Ass trying to hump Fat Glob’s calf while he’s on the move–headed briskly to the Chief Executive Trough. Today they’re serving fermented pig slop seasoned with dandruff and a sprinkling of nasal hair. The chef is tense because he’s never made anything quite this disgusting before. However, Kiss Ass has assured him that Fat Glob will love it. He is somewhat relieved, but still a little worried. He guesses he’ll just have to lie about where the nasal hairs came from.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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