Apagoresis (a-pa-gor’-e-sis): A statement designed to inhibit someone from doing something. Often uses exaggeration [or hyperbole] to persuade. It may combine an exaggeration with a cause/effect or antecedent/consequence relationship. The consequences or effects of such a phrase are usually exaggerated to be more convincing.

“If you keep doing that, the palm of your hand will grow hair,” my father told me. I asked him what he was talking about and he said, “Come on, don’t screw around with me. Your hand is not for that.” I was still puzzled. I used my hand for a lot of things and I had no idea which of them would cause hair to grow on my palm. I decided to ask my mom. She was usually more straightforward than Dad was. I asked, “Mom, what would cause hair to grow on the palm of my hand?” She looked really alarmed. “Do you have it? Are you growing hair there? Oh God, I knew this would happen at some point as you got older.” She pulled her apron over her her head and shook her head while she said “No, no no.” I told her I had no palm-hair and she was relieved. I decided to leave her alone. Poor Mom.

I went to see the school nurse. If anybody could help, she could. She told me not to worry about it—it was a myth and I could do it all I wanted to do it and no hair would grow on my palm. However, there could be other consequences from the repetition. I was relieved, but I still didn’t know what “it” is. So, I asked the nurse. She said, “Here, look in my medical dictionary. You’ll learn a lot and eventually you’ll find the answer. It was daunting. There are tons of medical words in the medical dictionary. After two days of looking, the only thing I could find that seemed relevant was “carpel-tunnel syndrome.” Now I understood! I was an obsessive video game player, and that could cause carpel-tunnel syndrome affecting my wrist and hand. The “hair on the palm of the hand” thing was Dad’s way of getting me to back off on the video games. I was so relieved. I went upstairs and booted up “Naughty Nurses” on my computer, drifting into my daily revery about the school nurse. At that moment I realized what Dad was talking about! I looked at the palm of my hand, turned off the computer, and started sorting through my baseball card collection.

Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

Paperback and Kindle editions of The Daily Trope are available on Kindle under the title The Book of Tropes.

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