Monthly Archives: November 2021


Apocope (a-pok’-o-pe): Omitting a letter or syllable at the end of a word. A kind of metaplasm.

Dad: You’re goin’ to school whether you like it or not! You’re gettin’ a education if I have to kill you, you little bugger. George Washington, the father of our country, went to school and wrote his notes with a piece a cow poop on the back of a fryin’ pan. There’s plenty of poop from Woopow aroun’ the yard you could use, and grandma even gave you her old pen from 4th grade. All you need to do is dip it in ink and it’s ready to go, you little malingerer.

Why won’t you go to school son? It can’t be that hard. I made it to 7th grade an’ it was a breeze. I took woodshop, home economics, and trigonometry in my last semester.

Son: There’s a bully who picks on me because we moved here from New York. He calls me “City Slicker,” “Crime Boss,” and “Yankee” and pushes me down on the playground.

Dad: Son, you know we moved down here to build a new branch of the family business. I know it’s been hard on you—all these people coming over here day and night, my sore knuckles, and the pile of credit cards on the dining room table.

Let’s do this: Tell me the bully’s name and he’ll never bully you again.

Son: Gee Dad—you’re the best. Can you, me, and Mom go out for a ice cream?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

A: I am a space alien. I constantly wear this fish bowl on my head. Without it, my head would melt into some kind of Earth-goo. I would die. Have you ever seen a space alien not wearing a fishbowl? Of course not, but you still don’t believe me. Notice how I am able to prance around the room. My prancing capacities are due to the lighter pull of Earth’s gravity. On my planet, we must be lifted by cranes from our chairs and we can only walk two or three feet before resting. You do understand gravity, don’t you? But, you still don’t believe me. Ok ok. Let’s have a look at my spaceship in the driveway. We all know that space aliens can’t get here unless they fly here in a spaceship!

B: It’s your mother’s Ford Fiesta.

A: She’s not my mother, I just live here. Now, let’s have a look at this so-called ‘Ford Fiesta.’ Notice, it has windows and seatbelts—absolutely necessary for blasting off, space cruising, and landing. The wheels are handy too. Let’s take a look under the hood—I’ll show you the power plant.

B: Oh, okay, gotta see the power plant. Is it 4 cylinder? Ha ha!

A: Behold, the power plant!

B: You’re insane—it’s a walnut!

A: Yes. Notice it’s got a subtle red glow, and it’s putting out a little heat right now. We all know, where there’s heat there’s energy and where there’s energy there’s power. If I shift it into drive, and press the actuator with my foot, I’m flyin’ home. Surely you believe me now. Want to do some Space Truckin’? Maybe we’ll run into Deep Purple up there! Or Leonard Nimoy. Or HAL. You never know! Ha ha!

B: I’m calling 911 mister space loon. Hello 911? I’ve got a raging lunatic here. Yes, he’s in the driveway by his mother’s Ford Fiesta. Wait! He’s gone, and the car too and it smells like walnuts where the car was parked. Do you believe in space aliens?

911: No sir. We’ll send somebody over to give you a ride to the clinic. Routine observation.

B: A crowd was gathering in the driveway. I noticed two of them were wearing fishbowls on their heads. I hid inside the house and waited for my ride to the clinic.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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 burn down my house?

1. My neighbors will feel sorry for me: Ha ha! They hate me.

2. The flames will be beautiful to look at and smell like a campfire: sounds wimpy.

3. The ugly living room couch will finally be history: good reason, but not good enough, and it might survive given federal regulations requiring furniture to be fireproofed.

4. I’ll be on the TV news and the internet too: only if I get caught! Bad!

5. I will collect the insurance money: yeah, bingo—collect the insurance money! I’ll move to Costa Rica—no extradition!

I’m headed to the garage to get the gas can. Damn! It’s empty and I don’t have any lighters, or even matches. Now, I’ll have to go to Cliff’s, get some wooden matches and fill my gas can. Hmm, while I’m there I might as well get some scratch-off Take Five lotto tickets, and a pizza, a couple of Diet Cokes, some windshield washer, toilet paper, sunglasses, deodorant, gum, and a pair of socks.

You know, burning down my house may not be a good idea. Even if I collect the insurance money, I will probably get caught, go to jail, and not be able to shop at Cliff’s any more. That would be hell. So, I’m going thumbs down on the arson thing and I’m headed to Cliff’s to do a little shopping. I wonder what color socks I should get?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apoplanesis (a-po-plan’-e-sis): Promising to address the issue but effectively dodging it through a digression.

Why did I do that—why did I sell our car? Nothing’s good enough for you—my job as a meat washer at the packing plant, my size 14 feet, my chronic cough, my incontinence, my teddy bear. Should I keep going? Ok—my electric trains, my mother, my vacuum cleaner collection: if it’s mine or me it sucks. If it’s you or yours, we can hear angels singing hallelujah, or hosanna or whatever the hell they sing when they witness perfection. But hey, let me point out, you’ve got bad breath and you’re a slob: I keep my basement room spotless and tidy, but your upstairs bedroom looks like it got hit by a tornado.

Oh well. See you later. I’m WALKING to Mel’s Market. I’m going to pick up a can of Drano, and some oatmeal. Do you need anything?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Aporia (a-po’-ri-a): Deliberating with oneself as though in doubt over some matter; asking oneself (or rhetorically asking one’s hearers) what is the best or appropriate way to approach something [=diaporesis].

I’ve been lost on Rte. 80 for about 12 hrs. Where the hell is the Delaware Water Gap? How can I be lost on Rte. 80? Did somebody sabotage my GPS? The battery’s dead anyway. But Rte. 80 is loaded with well-marked exits. Where is the damn Delaware Water Gap? I hear sirens and see flashing red lights in my in my rear view mirror. What’s going on? Why are they chasing me?

I pull over to the shoulder and start looking for my registration and insurance card. And just like that, the 2 New Jersey State Trooper cruisers roar past, sirens blaring, lights flashing. They must be going 100!

Where the hell is the Delaware Water Gap? I can see the river out my car window. The sky is clear. The stars are bright. Now, to complicate things, I hear a tapping sound coming from the passenger side of the car. I look and see an old badly dressed man riding shotgun. He says in his old man voice: “Son, Delaware Water Gap symbolizes your life’s divisions: you wife, your children, and your children’s hamster Wild Bill.”

Oh my God, It was my father. How had I forgotten he was in the car? Between being lost and forgetting, I was surely having some kind of mental breakdown. Then Dad said, “According to my phone’s GPS, We’re not lost. The Gap is five miles up the road.” I pulled over and borrowed Dad’s phone to call home. It was reassuring hearing my wife’s warm and comforting voice. I felt the Gap narrowing and wanted to turn around and go back home and be with my wife, children, and the hamster.

As we came up on the exit, Dad said “This is where I get out.” I thought he was joking, so I pulled over. He told me to keep his phone as he opened the car door. He instantly disappeared into the night. I jumped out of the car calling his name and looking for him. He was nowhere to be found.

I got back in the car, started it up, turned around, and headed back to Chatham. Aside from the cellphone, there wasn’t a trace of Dad in the car. I decided to report him missing the next day, which was really shitty of me. I got home around 8:00 am. I could smell coffee as I came through the door. I was carrying Dad’s cellphone in my hand. When my wife saw it, she smiled and reached for it. “You found my cellphone, I thought I lost it forever.” I told her I had found it in the car. I decided not to report Dad missing. Why?

He was in the little brass urn on the mantle.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Aposiopesis (a-pos-i-o-pee’-sis): Breaking off suddenly in the middle of speaking, usually to portray being overcome with emotion.

It’s Thanksgiving again and I’ve got to spend the day with the gaggle of morons called “my family.” There’s Roger my brother who is the most wicked farter in the United States of America. It’s so bad, the rotten egg smell follows him around like a miasma from the Edgar Allen Poe story: “The Murder of the Bellicose Butt.” Then there’s my sister Annette. At the slightest provocation she cries and pulls her hair and asks God to “kill them all.” The last time it happened was at CVS. She was looking at hair dye and I said in a dazzling pun, “Are you dying for a new color?” She went berserk—sobbing uncontrollably and yelling, “Hair I am. Hairs my life. I might as well commit hairy carry. You should. . .try to . . . God, kill them all.” I put my arm around her and we slowly walked out of CVS.

Are you getting an idea of the joys of Thanksgiving at my house? No? Then how about this:

There’s Aunt Venice. Her name should clue you in to her weirdness. She changed her name from Betty after she saw “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which is set in Venice. I never understood it, but it is what it is. She thinks it’s funny to ask me about my penis: “How’s hangin?” is her favorite. But she has a repertoire: “Have you been letting you meat loaf, Clayton? You know Clayton, a hard man is good to find. You need to put some lead in your pencil, Clayton. When I frown she asks: “Do you have a boner to pick with me?”

You can imagine! This has been going on since I was seventeen. It was bad enough to be a little confused about my sexuality, but it was worse when Venice came for Thanksgiving from Miami and plied me with her dick sayings, and now she was coming again. I am 25 and I still dread the banter. I just hope she won’t ask me to move to Miami again, like she did last year. I was thinking about asking her about her vagina as a counter to her dick jokes, but I was afraid to and decided it was inappropriate anyway. She’s family (my father’s sister), but she has some serious problems.

There’s more to the story, but enough is enough. You don’t want hear about Mom and Dad and their ongoing kickboxing tournament, or my Grandpa’s tattoos.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.

There is a beginning and an end. Ends are beginnings and beginnings are ends. When one door closes, it is shut. What is the sound of one hand knitting? If a tree falls in the forrest with nobody there, who will help the squirrels? If a man tells you he is lying, may he be telling the truth? Who left the cake out in the rain?

Oh God, what’s wrong with me? Is anything actually wrong with me? You’ve got to help me stop asking the same questions over and over. Whenever I feel an upward inflection welling up in my voice I can’t stop it. Out comes a question—big questions, little questions, medium-sized questions. Why do questions have sizes? Oh no! See what I mean God? I did it again. Why? Oh damn (sorry God) I did it again. Why am I sorry? Yaaaaaa!

It started in Philosophy grad school. Questions are rewarded. Answers are punished. I became known as the Grand Inquisitor. I spoke with a Spanish Accent. My classmates hated me. I dropped out and got a PhD in Psychology. I counseled people by asking them endless questions.

Please God, can you give me some answers? Or, better yet: ask me a question. Can you do that? How about just a little question? Like, what I had for lunch? Or, what color is my shirt? Or, when will they let me out of here?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apothegm (a’-po-th-e-gem): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, gnome, maxim, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

“If you can’t choo choo don’t call yourself a train.” Uncle Wizzer.

That’s what I’m telling you, and like any words of wisdom, they’re perfectly clear. Crystal clear, in fact. My uncle Wizzer taught this saying to me when I was eight years old. He’d gotten his nickname because he could run faster than anybody in Broken Hole Montana where I grew up. He was my mama’s brother and he never walked.

I’ll never forget the time I saw him running out of Best Buy with a flat screen TV. Ten people were chasing him and yelling. I couldn’t hear what they were yelling as Uncle Wizzer whizzed past me. Maybe I should’ve tried to tackle him, but as far as I was concerned, I told the police, “whoever he was” I thought he was probably in a hurry to get home and watch his new TV. Based on what I told them, the police decided I wasn’t an accessory. Also, “the perpetrator” wore a Goofy mask in the store and nobody could identify him. He tore it off when he came running out of the Best Buy entrance. That’s how I knew who he was. Also, he yelled “choo choo” as he ran past me.

The CCTV outside Best Buy caught Uncle Wizzer with his mask off. It was just a matter of time before the police caught up with him. Two days before he was arrested, he stopped by the house with a big rectangular package. I instantly knew it was the stolen TV. Uncle Wizzer handed it to me. We didn’t have cable TV, but I didn’t care because we had one broadcast channel from Billings. Every time I watched Captain Kangaroo, and Mister Green Jeans would say something wise, I would think of Uncle Wizzer and very quietly say “choo choo” to myself.

I couldn’t run as fast as Uncle Wizzer, but I could steal things, and I did.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Appositio (ap-po-sit’-i-o): Addition of an adjacent, coordinate, explanatory or descriptive element.

I was minding my own business—standing there alone, not caring, not the slightest bit curious. Then, I heard somebody yell: “Stop staring at me! What, do I look like a national monument?” It was Lincoln! He was sitting in his giant stone chair in the Washington, DC memorial named after him. He was yelling at me.

My God, I thought—this can’t be happening. When I decided to visit our nation’s Capitol, I thought it would be ok. Moreover, I took my medication that morning. And most significantly, none of the other monuments I visited that morning had yelled at me or even talked to me.

As luck would have it, I was alone in the Lincoln Memorial. No way to do a reality check. Then Lincoln asked “Do you know what ‘four score and seven’ means?” I told him I was afraid I had no idea. “You and everybody else! Damn it! It ruined my speech!” He yelled. I could see he was trying to stand up, but he couldn’t— his stone body made a grinding sound as he struggled, but he couldn’t get up from his giant chair.

“There’s a ladder and a can of black spray paint on the floor behind me. I want you to set up the ladder, climb it, and paint over ‘four score and seven‘ so nobody can read it—so nobody can be confused by it or make fun of it any more.

I looked behind Lincoln’s statue and was shocked to find a ladder and can of black spray paint standing there. I asked Lincoln how it got there and he told me not to worry about it right now. “Lean up the ladder, pick up the can, shake it real good, and start painting. I’ll make you a General in the Union Army.”

I did Lincoln’s bidding and was climbing down the ladder when I heard somebody yell “Stop what you’re doing and drop the can.” It wasn’t Lincoln—he pretended he didn’t know anything—mute and stock still—checked out. He just sat there staring straight ahead.

The Park Police handcuffed me. The Capitol Police took me to Med-Star Hospital. I was under observation in a little room when I heard a voice identifying itself as my mattress, who was quite sympathetic to my plight. He started telling me mattress jokes, like about going soft, sleeping on it, nothing else mattress, etc. Made me laugh! I knew I was going to be ok.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Mattress jokes:


Ara (a’-ra): Cursing or expressing detest towards a person or thing for the evils they bring, or for inherent evil.

You stole everything from me you goddamned piece of shit. My heart. My home. My savings. My self-respect.

You are such a spectacular liar, you’ve turned my friends, and even my family, against me. But, I do have character witnesses who will be testifying on my behalf at my trial. I met them here on Ward 12 and they all promise to take their medication before testifying.

I don’t know how it came to this. I still don’t understand how you took everything from me and said it was justified by my mental incompetence, the “horrible thing” I did to you, your “need for safety” from my “viscous madness” and your need to protect my wealth and property from my craziness (diagnosed by a quack friend of yours at the psychiatric hospital).

What the hell did I ever do to you you back-stabbing, sulfur-stinking spawn of Satan? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. My lawyer Fido will get me off and get me everything back. He’s a cute Airedale Terrier who went to Harvard and knows how to deal with so-called “people” like you. He visits me nearly every night in my room. My other lawyer, Mr. Nelson, is an idiot. He wants me to plead insanity and get me the lightest sentence possible. When I told Fido, he growled and wouldn’t stop barking. That’s enough for me! No deals Mr. Nelson.

See you in court devil man!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Articulus (ar-tic’-u-lus): Roughly equivalent to “phrase” in English, except that the emphasis is on joining several phrases (or words) successively without any conjunctions (in which case articulus is simply synonymous with the Greek term asyndeton). See also brachylogia.

Articulus 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 the slower speed of concatenated membra (see membrum) to the quicker speed possible via articulus.

Left, right, left. Left, right, left. Marching, marching, marching, marching. Hup, two, three, four. What are we marching for? Courage? Redemption? Clarity? Connection? Where are we going? What’s the point? People die. Birds fly. People cry. Babies smile and say “Bye, bye.”

All the big questions can’t be answered with certainty, only with hope, fear, charity, cynicism, music, poetry; fervently, fearfully, recklessly. The game is rigged. The diseases rage. Injustice is rampant. Truth is flat on its back. Rittenhouse is free. What about you and me?

Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Aschematiston: The use of plain, unadorned or unornamented language. Or, the unskilled use of figurative language. A vice. [Outside of any particular context of use or sense of its motive, it may be difficult to determine what’s “plain, unadorned or unornamented language.” The same is true of the “unskilled use of figurative language.”]

1. The Red Fox jumped over the fence. He landed on the other side and kept going. He was hunting mice. The mice lived in the field. He caught a mouse and chewed its head off before he ate it. Then, he went on his way. I watched hm until he disappeared into the woods on the other side of the field. Then, I climbed over the fence to examine the mouse’s head. It’s eyes were glassy and it’s nose was dripping blood. I put the head in the plastic sandwich bag I carried on my country walks. When I got home I would boil the head until the flesh fell off. Then, I would add it to my skull collection. So far, I had a crow, a rabbit, a groundhog, a squirrel, a raccoon, a vagrant, and a chicken.

2. The Northern Lights looked like strands of colored spaghetti dangling overhead— the stars looked like twinkling flecks of Parmesan cheese, shaken from above, seasoning the display with their shimmering cheesiness. I had been in Iceland for two weeks waiting to spot the Lights. I was collecting dust like a tabletop in a sawmill. I was a tire waiting to roll. Finally, the Lights appeared. I was happy as a crayon rubbing around on a piece of paper.

It was time to go back to New York.

Iceland is pile of old lava with smelly steam coming out of holes in the ground everywhere. Iceland is a lava lullaby where it is either light or dark all the time. I had seen the Northern Lights. One more thing to erase from the list of things I want to do. Next, I will visit Liberty Park in New Jersey. After that, maybe the Tesla factory—it will be electrifying!

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


Asphalia (as-fay’-li-a): Offering oneself as a guarantee, usually for another.

You know me: Johnny Limbo. My motto is “How low can you go?” That’s what I ask my clients before I loan them money & we’re not talking about interest rates. Mike, here, will do anything to get a few bucks from me to support his La Bonnotte Potato habit. At $320 per pound you gotta have the money. Mike knows what he likes.

Sometimes it takes a little ‘prodding’ to get my loan payment from Mike, but he hasn’t left town or tried to kill me. That stub where his left pinky used to be shows what he’ll go through to keep his promises.

Extremely trustworthy. Kind of cautious. Got the eyes of a Potato. Ha! Ha! That was a joke.

Bottom line: Mike needs a job. You give him a job and I’ll make sure he takes care of business—mine and yours. Since he’ll be using his hands for work, I’ll start focusing my disciplinary measures on his feet.

Remember, this is Johnny Limbo vouching for Mike. My word is like a gun aimed at your head.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Assonance (ass’-o-nance): Repetition of similar vowel sounds, preceded and followed by different consonants, in the stressed syllables of adjacent words.

Standing all along the bakery windows in colorful rows were the famous “Sons of Buns.” They were bite size jelly donuts with glazed frosting in different pastel colors. I bought a half-dozen of blues and reds every Friday night so we could have them for breakfast on Saturday. This had been going on for fifteen years of marriage and two daughters.

As I dove into my donut, I felt a piece of paper between my teeth. I thought, what is this, a fortune donut? My family huddled around as I pulled the strip of paper out of my mouth. It had writing on it, but it was in Thai or Lao—I knew from my ‘activities’ in SE Asia during the war.

I couldn’t read either language, and called the donut shop. They didn’t know what I was talking about and I believed them. I was about to throw the slip of paper away when my daughter Katy reminded me that we had a neighbor from Laos who could probably read both Thai and Lao.

We knocked on our neighbor Phayvan’s door and she answered right away. I told her about the slip of paper and she asked to see it. As she read it, she inhaled sharply. “Uh oh” I thought. “What does it say?” I asked. Phayvan gave me a wild-eyed look, crushed the slip of paper, swallowed it, and slammed the door.

I was dumbfounded. My curiosity was peaking. My frustration was exploding. But really, there was nothing I could do. The next day a “For Sale” sign went up in front of Phayvan’s home. I saw her pull into her driveway in a brand new Maserati. That afternoon, in my mailbox, I found a $500,000 cashier’s check made out to me! The car, the house, the check: it had to be the donut note!

Phayvan had disappeared, but I didn’t care. I was happy with the money. I invested it in Bitcoins and doubled it in six short months. Things couldn’t have been better, but they could’ve been worse, as five years later I found out when I was charged, tried, and convicted of Phayvan’s murder. They found her in my back yard wrapped in decaying paper with Lao writing all over it. The police had it translated: “A tray full of money is not worth a mind full of knowledge.”

I guess this is some kind of lesson I’m supposed to learn. What a crock of shit.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.).

I do not want to hurt my Mommy and don’t want to talk about how she bought me an AR-15 for my birthday, even though I was underage to possess one in Illinois. I didn’t know why, but Mommy drove me to a riot with my gun. Before we left for the riot, she loaded the gun’s magazines and helped me get into my militia suit—black with a lot of cool camo buckles.

When we got to the riot in Wisconsin, Mommy told me to “Get the f*ck out of the car.” As I stood there she yelled, “Lock, load and shoot somebody Kyle. I didn’t buy you the gun so you could model it in the middle of the street!” I started to cry and the gun went off and somebody fell down. Through my tears I saw another blurry figure coming at me and the gun went off again. Mommy yelled “That’s only two you feeble idiot!” I was crying so hard I was afraid my camo buckles would rust, but I didn’t want a spanking when we got home. My gun went off again and there was somebody shot in the arm. Mommy drove off. I walked away and phoned Mommy. She didn’t answer so I walked back to Illinois.

I’m not saying that Mommy is to blame for everything. A son’s love for his mother is boundless. When you arrest Mommy, please don’t mention me. I’m just a teenager.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( 

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Asteismus (as-te-is’-mus): Polite or genteel mockery. More specifically, a figure of reply in which the answerer catches a certain word and throws it back to the first speaker with an unexpected twist. Less frequently, a witty use of allegory or comparison, such as when a literal and an allegorical meaning are both implied.

A: Hey baby, I’m gonna throw you a little kiss.

B: And I’m going to throw you your car keys so you can get the hell out of here. All I wanted was a ride home. I invited you in as a courtesy. I thought you could use some coffee. Why’d you put your keys on the table by the sofa, by me?

A: I was marking my territory, baby.

B: You are creepy. Your territory is out in the driveway. Time to go.

A: Ok. I’ll see you tomorrow at work. We can talk things over. Maybe you’ll see the light.

B: I’d rather stumble around in the dark.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Astrothesia (as-tro-the’-si-a): A vivid description of stars. One type of enargia.

I first learned the word “twinkle” when I learned the little poem “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” Often, when I look at the sky at night, the childhood poem presents itself in my head. I’m in my mid-70s now and the poem’s still there.

I remember the night I taught the poem to my daughter—she was no more than 4 years old at the time. We were on the “point” by Little River, on the coast of Maine, years, and years, and years ago.

The sky was clear and black. There was no moon. No lights, just the sky full of twinkling stars. I pointed out the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and of course, the Milky Way. Then suddenly, a meteor shot across the sky—without a sound tumbling toward earth. My daughter clapped her hands. I smiled and felt at peace, as I still do beneath the night sky.

I look and see the vast number of uncountable twinkling stars—no matter where I am in the world—Argentina, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey—everywhere my travels take me. The night sky settles me and the twinkling stars, in their random brilliance, nurture my need for wonder.

As I stand alone and look at the stars, I think of my daughter who just turned 27. I wonder if she remembers like I do. “Why would she?” I ask. “Why wouldn’t she?” I answer.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.]

A: Big, little, blue, green, warm, cold, hot. This isn’t a riddle. It’s the tattoo on my chest. Big: the tattoo itself. Little: the troop of ants spelling my name in a circle. Blue: the tattoo’s background. Green: the four leaf clover between the first and last letters of my ant-troop name. Warm: the cheeseburger in the tattoo’s center. Cold: the ice cube above the cheeseburger. Hot: the rays of the sun emanating from the tattoo’s blue background.

I would show you the tattoo now, but this is only our first date and Smudge’s Bar & Grill is hardly where I want to tear my shirt open. There would be screaming, fainting, moaning, crying and rolling on the floor. We don’t need that!

Where are you going? I’ve got a lot more to tell you about myself. I’m a genius, weight lifter, world class chef, artist, rodeo clown, astronaut. Come on! I bet you have a lot to tell me!

B: Yes: you’re crazy. If you try to contact me again for any reason, I’ll call the police and have you cited for stalking. Got it?

A: Yes, but I think you’d enjoy seeing me cloning at the weekly rodeo. Here’s a ticket.

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

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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.

I pulled and yanked, and tugged, and put my last ounce of strength into opening the massive iron door. This could be the biggest most amazing discovery in the history of the Anthropology Department, my university, my country, the world, and the entire universe!

I had been lowered 200 feet by a cable set up like a McGuire Rig. When I got to the bottom, I noticed iron rungs affixed to the wall and decided I wouldn’t have used them anyway. After I managed to open its door, my headlight shone into the stone vault. The walls were lined with neatly stacked cans of Dinty Moore beef stew (with potatoes and carrots). Also, there were two cases of cheap vodka, a case of tonic water, two cases of bottled water, one fork, one can opener, two cases of toilet paper, and one large cocktail glass.

This was supposed to be a late 17th-century pirate hideout used by Blond Beard, the not-so-notorious pirate cousin of Black Beard, not some kind of bomb shelter from the goddamn 60s. Suddenly the vault’s door slammed shut. I called to my helper, hoping he could hear me through the door. No answer. He was a local I had hired for minimum wage.

As my light dimmed, I saw a yellow glow coming out of the wall. The glow said “Harr looter—get out and promise to stay out, and I’ll let ye be.”

I promised and the door flew open. I ran through the doorway. Right then, I remembered, my helper had a blond beard. Coincidence? At that point I didn’t care. I yelled and yelled and nobody answered. My helper was nowhere to be found. I tried to open the door again, but when I touched it, it disappeared and was sealed over with stone. I climbed the iron rungs. As I emerged from underground and stepped away, the ground closed and became a perfectly camouflaged piece of earth. No trace. Gone. Erased.

If you are reading this I am dead. I honored my promise to the voice and have lived a happy and prosperous life, receiving a bag full of gold ducats in the mail every Easter.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

There is one thing in the world I hate, and it’s you. Tricky was a good goldfish. You gave me a choice: yield, or you would stomp on the fish. I didn’t yield. You stomped on Tricky until he looked like orange mashed potatoes soaked into my bedroom rug. I cried so hard. You laughed so hard and made my world fall apart. Even after you stomped Tricky, you made me “honor” your request.

Today is a new day. I hate you more today than yesterday. When I told the guy at the gun shop what you did to me, and will probably do again, he actually gave the Beretta to me—he even loaded the clip. As he handed the loaded gun to me, all he said was “Self defense.”

So, here we are today with your pants down around your ankles and a Beretta pointed at your privates. You are scum. You belong in a landfill covered with rotting garbage. I should kill you, but get ready to have the clip emptied in your crotch. Stand up you wimp. Shut up!

Feel free to call 911 while I pump your privates full of lead.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

After I climbed Mt. Everest and then hiked around the world barefoot, my fame was inexhaustible. When I climbed up into the Cloud on a cyber ladder and looted it, and then bought the world’s oil reserves, I developed a aura of greatness shimmering around my head like a green halo sparking dollar signs. My foray into cryptocurrency saved the world: I amassed enough Bitcoins to pay the national debts of Brazil, Germany, China, India, the US, and the UK.

Now, in all my perfection, I have arrived.

I am the golden door to your heart, the stairway to your heaven, the top of your morning, noon, and night. How many other men would buy you, no questions asked, a $90.00 blender, a $600.00 electric scooter, and a not too cheap set of T-fal cookware? All I ask in return is that you be my eternal ray of sunshine, my inspiration, and my girlfriend.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae”

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

Roy Orbison is whining about crying on the Sirius XM 60s channel. I’m driving like a bat out of hell to Phoenix, Arizona from Elizabeth, New Jersey. The sky keeps flashing with heat lightening and I’m driving with the windows down. When I first put them down, everything on the seat and dashboard blew out the windows and disappeared. I thought about stopping and retrieving the worthwhile stuff, like my lotto ticket, but a voice in my head was yelling in a high-pitched whine, “Drive. Go. Move. Speed. You sorry bastard. You broken man. You asshole.”

I didn’t know why I was out here on the road, but I didn’t stop and turn around to see if I could find my stuff. I listened to the voice, and I kept going—driving, driving, driving, driving, night and day, day and night, west.

The sun set in my face and I kept going. Then it was dark, and the full moon made the green and white road signs cast shadows: “Phoenix 500 miles.” 500 miles!? WTF? Why not 5,000, 500,000, 5,000,000, 5 billion!?

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw something moving around on the rear deck behind the back seats—between the speakers.

It was a goddamn coiled up snake! I didn’t know shit about snakes. So, I couldn’t tell what kind of snake it was, but it was big and striped, and looking at the back of my neck. I had driven over 2,000 miles with a damn snake in my car! This is ‘snakes in a car’ I thought, as I tried to figure out what to do.

Any normal person would’ve stopped, jumped out of the car, and called 911. But I’m not normal—I kept driving 100 mph toward Phoenix. Now, 40 miles to go. I had an address in a GPS. In a few minutes I’d find out why $600,000 had been deposited in my checking account, why I had been summoned to the address in my GPS, and why there was a huge snake in my car, and that, by the way, had disappeared from the rear deck between the rear seats.

“Your destination is on right” said the GPS. There it was—a five star hotel. Up I went. I banged on the room’s door. I heard somebody say “Jesus Christ it’s him—as usual he’s friggin’ early.” It sounded like Joey Ice, a hitter for the Elizabeth crew.

The door flew open and there was Joey holding a Glock and smiling. He lowered the gun. “Welcome to Phoenix shitbird.” “What the Hell is going on!?” I shouted. Joey smiled again and said “Welcome to Phoenix shitbird.” “What’s the money for?” I asked. Joey looked out the window and quietly said “Welcome to Phoenix shitbird.” No more questions.

I didn’t know whether I was in deep shit or Nirvana and Joey wasn’t going to tell me.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.

Shit, shit, shit. Shit is everywhere. It is slippery. It is stinky. It is unsanitary. It is sloppy. It is lumpy. It is “just right.” But none of this is bad. Shit is a Dairy Queen without the cone. Kaka is it’s name. Merde is it’s name. Stront is it’s name. Scheisse is it’s name. Everywhere, in every language, shit has a name.

Along with pee, shit is something that all human beings know, understand, and have in common. We must remind ourselves of what we have in common every day. It will provide a bridge where we can meet in the middle with shit on our shoes and a song in our hearts. Accordingly, privacy will no longer be an option in public restrooms. Toilet stalls will be removed so we can “meet on the seat.”

Get ready for a kinder, happier world. Shit will save us.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.

My heart went beep before it took a leap. I wanted to wrench it around so it could see what I was doing to me. Unable to do that, I opted for an empty can of garbanzos with both ends cut out. I put the can on my chest. I bent my head down and listened. I heard a faint squeaking sound that troubled my thinking.

If these heart episodes persist, I will stop reading mystery novels and start reading high school biology textbooks with pictures of whales and reproductive systems with schismatic diagrams of their complexity. This will impact my life, and I’m not at all reticent to try it. First, I must have a convocation with my doctor. She’s really smart and will know what to perform.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

I thought I was a king. Then I thought I was a prince. Now I know I am a homeless man. I live on the street. I live in an alley by a restaurant. I rummage for food three times a day. There’s always something to eat, but it isn’t very good. I long for the days when I thought I was a king, or even a prince. I had a family. Now, I sleep under a tarp on the pavement.

I had friends. I was pretty happy. Then, this clicking sound started in my head. I couldn’t focus on work. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was driving my wife and daughter crazy. I quit my job. After a year, I ran out the front door with nothing but the clothes on my back. Now I hear clicking and static in my head. Oddly, the static helps me sleep. Tomorrow, I’m going to the free clinic to find out what’s wrong with me. Right now, I feel crazy. Tomorrow, I may feel sane, but I doubt it.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (