Tag Archives: composition


Mesozeugma (me’-so-zyoog’-ma): A zeugma in which one places a common verb for many subjects in the middle of a construction.

Neither hope nor fear could move her; neither bright promises nor beligerent threats.

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


Diasyrmus (di’-a-syrm-os): Rejecting an argument through ridiculous comparison.

Letting your kids roam the streets at night so they can “learn about life” is like putting herbicides on your garden to make it grow!

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


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

Love, hate, fear, joy, anger, pity, hope, guilt, disgust–all banging together in his pulsing head. He was flipping out! He needed more than a vacation–he needed a medical leave.

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


Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

The USA is made up of states, counties, parishes, townships, towns, cities, neighborhoods & more–so much more!

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


Simile (si’-mi-lee): An explicit comparison, often (but not necessarily) employing “like” or “as.”

He was so closed-minded that trying to get him to change his mind was like trying to push an armored car up a hill with a lawn tractor.

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


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 metaphor, simile, allegory, etc.

Every time I see you I feel like we’re in some kind of video game that we don’t know how to play.

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


Prolepsis (pro-lep’-sis):  (1) A synonym for procatalepsis [refuting anticipated objections];  (2) speaking of something future as though already done or existing. A figure of anticipation.

1. They’re going to say we don’t have the resources–the experiential and material capital to pull this one off. Well, I say, we’ve accomplished similar goals–even more challenging goals–in the past. Remember the Foster deal? Complicated!  But it came off like clockwork! We made a bundle and everybody was happy. And moreover, as far as the money goes, we’ve always managed to raise the funds we need to finance our ventures. Remember how quickly we secured financing for the Panama project? What about the 600 cargo containers for the Singapore deal? Let’s not forget the oyster farm! We’re all over the map–but all roads lead back to due diligence, well-calculated risks, and happy investors.  Come on–let’s go for it!

2. I can’t believe you told her about last night. My Spam is fried. The end. That’s it. We’re through.

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

The dried hard bud will never blossom–caught in time–somehow dead and alive all-at-once: like a memory, like a broken promise; a broken promise I can’t forget.

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


Adianoeta: An expression that, in addition to an obvious meaning, carries a second, subtle meaning (often at variance with the ostensible meaning).

He fielded the line drive with his nose.

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


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

You are my generous, intelligent, kind, creative, loving, self-confident buddy! My child! My daughter! My rainbow!

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


Alleotheta (al-le-o-the’-ta): Substitution of one case, gender, mood, number, tense, or person for another. Synonymous with enallage. [Some rhetoricians claim that alleotheta is a] general category that includes antiptosis [(a type of enallage in which one grammatical case is substituted for another)] and all forms of enallage [(the substitution of grammatically different but semantically equivalent constructions)].

The tree was hit by the car.  Or, did the tree hit the car? Ask an insurance adjuster–they know everything about accidents (and grammar too)!

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


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.

Sometimes it’s worth it to take a risk. Often a risk is not worth taking. Do you really want to take this risk?

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


Epiplexis (e-pi-plex’-is): Asking questions in order to chide, to express grief, or to inveigh. A kind of rhetorical question[–the speaker does not expect an answer].

Why did you drink and drive? Why did you get behind the wheel? Even if you don’t care about yourself, don’t you care about your friends who you could’ve killed? What are we going to do with you? Out of jail on $1,000 bail. Don’t you think you’ve really gone over the top this time? Underage drinking! DWI! Go to your room! We’ll talk about this in the morning.

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


Epizeuxis (e-pi-zook’-sis): Repetition of words with no others between, for vehemence or emphasis.

You are nothing but trouble–trouble, trouble, trouble!

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


Dendographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.

Driving alone along the winding country road–early morning–late autumn–just snowed–there’s an apple tree off in an overgrown abandoned field–unprotected, unpruned; abandoned like the field, but still faithful to the season set with bright red apples–untouched, untended, twisted gray & groping old tree–but red, red, red, red–too many pretty apples to count, too much left unsaid.

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


Apodioxis (ap-o-di-ox’-is): Rejecting of someone or something (such as the adversary’s argument) as being impertinent, needless, absurd, false, or wicked.

I can’t believe what I just heard! You say the death penalty saves money–it’s cheaper than life sentences–we’ll save money on food and “housing” if we take prisoners’ lives–comparing the cost of a lethal injection to the cost of a life sentence as a good reason for supporting the death penalty is absurd–no it’s worse than absurd–it’s downright evil!  Let’s just call your so-called argument “accounting gone wild” or “bookkeeping for psychopaths” and move on to something worth talking about–something to the point–something reasonable!

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


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.

Rudy: I can’t help but thinking you’re a fool to talk like that to the President.

Dennis: Then, my friend, I’ve fooled you.

Rudy: What kind of fool would play the fool?

Dennis: The one that’s in this play called ‘politics’–where pretense bears the weight of being earnest and speech is more likely to be heard when spoken by a cocksure jerk–apparently unaffected–directly to the face of power!

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


Sarcasmus (sar’kaz’-mus): Use of mockery, verbal taunts, or bitter irony.

What’s the matter Georgie–did the big bad Congress give you a boo boo?

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


Onomatopoeia (on-o-mat-o-pee’-a): Using or inventing a word whose sound imitates that which it names (the union of phonetics and semantics).

The Cheese Doodles bag kroowooshed when he opened it.

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


Apocarteresis (a-po-car-ter’-e-sis): Casting of all hope away from one thing and placing it on another source altogether.

All my life I thought that wealth and fame were the two keys to ultimate happiness. Now, after all, I realize that there is no key to ultimate happiness, rather, happiness is the key.

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


Antisagoge (an-tis-a-go’-gee): 1. Making a concession before making one’s point (=paromologia); 2. Using a hypothetical situation or a precept to illustrate antithetical alternative consequences, typically promises of reward and punishment.

1. There’s no doubt that there’s a high degree of risk involved, but if we don’t act now all bets are off.

2. Imagine this: It comes to your attention that one of your fellow employees is stealing office supplies to support the small business he’s set up on the side to defray the costs of his wife’s cancer treatment. What should you do? If you turn him in, he will be fired. If you don’t turn him in, you will be fired. What should you do? Be creative–surely there are more than two possible choices!

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


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

From sunrise to sunset–sunset to sunrise–morning, noon, and night–there is no time that is not the right time for eyes-wide-open vigilance.

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


Thaumasmus (thau-mas’-mus): To marvel at something rather than to state it in a matter of fact way.

I am amazed by your “So what?” attitude toward the miserable consequences of so many failed decisions!

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


Paromologia (par-o-mo-lo’-gi-a): Conceding an argument, either jestingly and contemptuously, or to prove a more important point.  A synonym for concessio.

Yup, I’m late to yet another weekly meeting–last week there was an accident–two weeks ago there was construction–today it was the fire. Who knows what it’ll be next! Let’s explore using our video conferencing capabilities for three of the four meetings we have each month, and keep one meeting face to face–with a flexible start time. That way, we’ll save money, start most of our meetings on time, and generally, be more productive. What say?

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


Hendiadys (hen-di’-a-dis): Expressing a single idea by two nouns [joined by a conjunction] instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force. Hendiadys can be considered a specific application of anthimeria, the more general term indicating the substitution of one part of speech for another.  Hendiadys [is realted to polysyndeton–it] increases the use of conjunctions in a sentence in the very act of transforming an adjective-noun combination into two nouns. [In addition,] making an adjective a noun changes it from a subordinate to an ordinate or parallel position, inviting one to consider the nouns as related but distinct. Like hendiadys, paradiastole divides out and distinguishes terms normally considered completely consistent with one another.

It wasn’t the sparkle, or the diamonds, or the two rings that made that night a special night–it was the commitment we exchanged.


It wasn’t the two sparkling diamond rings that made that night a special night–it was the commitment we exchanged.

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