Tag Archives: figures of speech

Dialogismus

Dialogismus (di-a-lo-giz’-mus): Speaking as someone else, either to bring in others’ points of view into one’s own speech, or to conduct a pseudo-dialog through taking up an opposing position with oneself.

He’s shaping up to be the greatest President the United States of America has ever had! But you say it’s doubtful, Donny–so doubtful.

Ha! That’s not true. Look at the loyalty, the love, the affection!

Ok–Donny says it’s true: he’s making America great again in his own special way.

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

Dianoea

Dianoea (di-a-noe’-a): The use of animated questions and answers in developing an argument (sometimes simply the equivalent of anthypophora).

What’s the matter with me? Nothing’s the matter with me. What’s the matter with you? Nothing’s the matter with you.

This is the question: What’s the matter with us? We need to take mutual responsibility for our relationship.

Is it me? No!

Is it you? No!

It’s us! We need to figure out together what we need to do next.

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

Diaphora

Diaphora (di-a’-pho-ra): Repetition of a common name so as to perform two logical functions: to designate an individual and to signify the qualities connoted by that individual’s name or title.

President Trump is not President Trump when he lies about his predecessors. Rather, he’s a despicable fool with no business being in the White House.

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

Diaporesis

Diaporesis: 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 [=aporia].

Should I stay or should I go? I want to know.

If I stay I will be stuck here.

If I go I will be stuck there.

Maybe ‘being stuck’ is beside the point. The question is, stuck here or stuck there? Where would I rather be stuck? Here or there?

What does ‘here’ have that ‘there’ doesn’t have, and vice versa?

Hmmm. Here is here and there is there. Or, put another way, there is not here and here is not there. But, if I went there it would be here, and here would be there.

I guess I should ask: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being here versus being there? But, we all know that one person’s advantages are another person’s disadvantages–or that something can be an advantage and a disadvantage to the same person.

Anybody have any ideas?

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

Diaskeue

Diaskeue (di-as-keu’-ee): Graphic peristasis (description of circumstances) intended to arouse the emotions.

He had his dirty hand outstretched: filthy fingernails pointed directly at me. His eyes were glassy and bloodshot and there was a fleck of spit hanging from his chapped lower lip. His beard was out of control, like some kind of genetically modified weed patch. He smelled like urine and his clothes were ready to disintegrate. He wore no shoes.

“What are you looking for? Chevy? Ford? Mazda? VW? We have a really good selection of preowned cars.”

My God! He was a used car salesman! I turned and ran.

He called after me: “Jeep? Chrysler? Volvo?”

I kept running and didn’t look back.

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

Diasyrmus

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

You say that eating sand is a great way to lose weight. If that’s what you think, you should try drinking wet cement. Eating sand. Drinking wet cement. Equally good strategies if you want to gain weight and die.

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

Diazeugma

Diazeugma (di-a-zoog’-ma): The figure by which a single subject governs several verbs or verbal constructions (usually arranged in parallel fashion and expressing a similar idea); the opposite of zeugma.

My car leaked oil, smoked out the tailpipe, caught on fire, and was totally destroyed. The fire happened at the MacDonald’s drive-through. My Big Mac, Diet Coke and large fries were destroyed, but the guy in the window was kind enough not to charge me for them (at least I think this is what happened–the last I saw of him he was standing in the parking lot, uniform singed, with a blanket wrapped around him).  

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

A paper edition of The Daily Trope, entitled The Book of Tropes, is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99 USD. It contains over 200 schemes and tropes with their definitions and examples of each. All of the schemes and tropes are indexed, so it’s easy to find the one you’re looking for. Not only that, the examples of schemes and tropes may prompt you to try to create your own examples and use them as a writing exercise and as springboards for creating longer narratives.

Dicaeologia 

Dicaeologia (di-kay-o-lo’-gi-a): Admitting what’s charged against one, but excusing it by necessity.

Yes, I took your car. My mother was having a heart attack. I saw the keys in the ignition. I put her in the car. I drove the car to the hospital. Thankfully, I saved her life.

I apologize for taking your car, but saving my mother’s life was more important than finding you and asking for your permission. I am sorry.

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

A paper edition of The Daily Trope, entitled The Book of Tropes, is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99 USD. It contains over 200 schemes and tropes with their definitions and examples of each. All of the schemes and tropes are indexed, so it’s easy to find the one you’re looking for. Not only that, the examples of schemes and tropes may prompt you to try to create your own examples as a writing/speaking exercise, and use them as springboards for creating longer narratives.

Dirimens Copulatio

Dirimens Copulatio (di’-ri-mens ko-pu-la’-ti-o): A figure by which one balances one statement with a contrary, qualifying statement (sometimes conveyed by “not only … but also” clauses). A sort of arguing both sides of an issue.

Protagoras (c. 485-410 BC) asserted that “to every logos (speech or argument) another logos is opposed,” a theme continued in the Dissoi Logoi of his time, later codified as the notion of arguments in utrumque partes (on both sides). Aristotle asserted that thinking in opposites is necessary both to arrive at the true state of a matter (opposition as an epistemological heuristic) and to anticipate counterarguments. This latter, practical purpose for investigating opposing arguments has been central to rhetoric ever since sophists like Antiphon (c. 480-410 BC) provided model speeches (his Tetralogies) showing how one might argue for either the prosecution or for the defense on any given issue. As such, [this] names not so much a figure of speech as a general approach to rhetoric, or an overall argumentative strategy. However, it could be manifest within a speech on a local level as well, especially for the purposes of exhibiting fairness (establishing ethos [audience perception of speaker credibility]).

This pragmatic embrace of opposing arguments permeates rhetorical invention, arrangement, and rhetorical pedagogy.

I love a sunny day! Not only that, I love a cloudy day. The sun is warm. The clouds are cool. Feeling this way, I feel at home with the weather–I feel at home in the world.

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

A paper edition of The Daily Trope, entitled The Book of Tropes, is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99 USD. It contains over 200 schemes and tropes with their definitions and examples of each. All of the schemes and tropes are indexed, so it’s easy to find the one you’re looking for. Not only that, the examples of schemes and tropes may prompt you to try to create your own examples and use them as springboards for creating longer narratives.

Distinctio

Distinctio (dis-tinc’-ti-o): Eliminating ambiguity surrounding a word by explicitly specifying each of its distinct meanings.

Fire: Burning material (campfire)

Fire: To make something move very fast (fire a fastball)

Fire: To be dismissed from your job (you’re fired)

You’re not burning.

You’re not throwing pitches.

Actually, you’re fired.

A paper edition of The Daily Trope, entitled The Book of Tropes, is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99 USD. It contains over 200 schemes and tropes with their definitions and at least 2 examples of each. All of the schemes and tropes are indexed, so it’s easy to find the one you’re looking for. Not only that, the examples of schemes and tropes may prompt you to try to create one scheme or trope per day, starting with abating.

 

Distributio

Distributio (dis-tri-bu’-ti-o): (1) Assigning roles among or specifying the duties of a list of people, sometimes accompanied by a conclusion.  (2) Sometimes this term is simply a synonym for diaeresis or merismus, which are more general figures involving division.

Ok: Ed, you handle the paper. Al, you handle the metal. I’ll handle what we can’t recycle. The transfer station’s open on Wednesdays from 3.30-5.30. I’ll drive what we have there and dump it off in person.

Are we ready?

  • A paper edition of The Daily Trope, entitled The Book of Tropes, is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99 USD. It contains over 150 schemes and tropes with their definitions and at least 2 examples of each. All of the schemes and tropes are indexed, so it’s easy to find the one you’re looking for.

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

 

Ecphonesis

Ecphonesis (ec-pho-nee’-sis): An emotional exclamation.

Sam: “Yaaaaaaa!”

Pat: “Calm down! It’s only a snake.”

Sam: “Yaaaaaaaaaaa!!”

Pat: “Look! It likes you. It’s coming toward you.”

Sam: “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!”

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

 

Effictio

Effictio (ef-fik’-ti-o): A verbal depiction of someone’s body, often from head to toe.

Note: This figure was used in forensic rhetoric (legal argumentation) for purposes of clearly identifying an alleged criminal. It has often been adapted to poetical uses.

He was around nine feet tall. He had long brown shaggy hair and a reddish beard around one foot long. His eyes were yellow and his teeth were sharply pointed. He had a golden hoop erring in each of his ears. His hands looked like flesh-covered vises. He was wearing a beautiful gray hand-tailored suit and a Brooks Brothers tie with pictures of martinis printed on it. His shoes were brown and made of some kind of reptile skin–most likely alligator–most likely very expensive

It was my first day at work and Mr. Adams was my boss!  I couldn’t wait to start working with him, learning from him, and possibly becoming good friends.

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

Ellipsis

Ellipsis (el-lip’-sis): Omission of a word or short phrase easily understood in context.

When the going gets tough . . . . Got it? It’s time to help Sisyphus push that piece of crap up the hill to the garage. I can’t believe he bought a used KIA from one of those roadside rip-off car lots. He’s too vain to call a tow truck. This is his punishment.

But why the hell are we helping him? Hmmm–oh well: when in need . . .

Let’s go.

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

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Proverb

Proverb: One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adageapothegmgnomemaximparoemia, and sententia.

“Little ants can make a big problem.” Eddie Picknick, On a Blanket with Vermin.

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

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Prozeugma

Prozeugma (pro-zoog’-ma): A series of clauses in which the verb employed in the first is elided (and thus implied) in the others.

I tried the gourmet beer. High end suds. Pint of heaven. Perfection in a glass.

I love this stuff!

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

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Pysma

Pysma (pys’-ma): The asking of multiple questions successively (which would together require a complex reply). A rhetorical use of the question.

Until I get the GPS up and running again,  let’s just say we’re slightly lost in the woods.

Calm down fellow hikers! We’ll be ok. What kind of amateur trailblazer do you think I am? Do you really think I don’t know what I’m doing? Do you think I purposely got us lost?

Ha!

There, I’ve changed the GPS’s batteries and we’re good to go. Off to Diamond Lake! Step lively, intrepid hikers!

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

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Ratiocinatio

Ratiocinatio (ra’-ti-o-cin-a’-ti-o): Reasoning (typically with oneself) by asking questions. Sometimes equivalent to anthypophora. More specifically, ratiocinatio can mean making statements, then asking the reason (ratio) for such an affirmation, then answering oneself. In this latter sense ratiocinatio is closely related to aetiologia. [As a questioning strategy, it is also related to erotima {the general term for a rhetorical question}.]

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

What exactly was Kennedy getting at when he uttered this famous and memorable phrase?

I think he was interested in instilling a desire for national service and a patriotic willingness to put the USA before one’s self.

This is well and good up to a point, but people need a balance of self-interest and patriotism–the individual and the group–autonomy and connectedness. In many respects putting your country before yourself, stultifies the need for individualism and autonomy.

So, I believe the quote should be rephrased: “Ask what your country can do for you and what you can do for your country.” The both/and approach satisfies and balances two conflicted needs and opens a prospect for greater satisfaction.

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

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Repotia

Repotia (re-po’-ti-a): 1. The repetition of a phrase with slight differences in style, diction, tone, etc. 2. A discourse celebrating a wedding feast.

1. I need a steak. Feed me meat! I want to consume some tender cow! Moooove it on the meat front! The redder the better!

2. There’s a time for everything as we move through life! You’ve decided this is your time to be married, and you are. After 12 years of dating, you should have a pretty good idea of each other’s positive and negative qualities.

Clearly, the positive outweighs the negative, or we wouldn’t be here today celebrating your marriage!

So, let’s toast to a well-considered decision that is bound to lead to happiness. Eyes wide open, here’s to you–Charles and Wilma.

We wish you a prosperous, joy-filled future!

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

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Restrictio

Restrictio (re-strik’-ti-o): Making an exception to a previously made statement. Restricting or limiting what has already been said.

I think it’s time for Putin to confess. Well not quite confess, but at least wipe the ‘na-naa-na-naa-naa’ smirk off of his face!

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

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Sarcasmus

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

I think that’s a lovely hairdo. I like the long swirling blond wings. A truly cosmic comb-over. You must have a gifted sculptor doing your hair! I envy its complexity and the message it sends: Vanity rocks!

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

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Scesis Onomaton

Scesis Onomaton (ske’-sis-o-no’-ma-ton): 1. A sentence constructed only of nouns and adjectives (typically in a regular pattern).  2. A series of successive, synonymous expressions.

1. Russians. Elections. Trump. That’s all you need to know.

2. They went to the rally. They stood in the crowd. They included themselves in the audience. They applauded. They cheered. They went home with signed hats.

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

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Sententia

Sententia (sen-ten’-ti-a): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adageapothegemgnomemaximparoemia, and proverb.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” As crazy as it may seem, this was one of our wedding vows!

It has come in handy in our marriage many times–too many times. It was tough being married to Rubin. That’s why we finally got a divorce after 5 years of ‘getting going’. I was just not tough enough. So, I guess the saying that captures the choice I made would be: “When the going gets tough too many times, it’s time to get going to a good divorce lawyer.”

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

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Simile

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

Your breath smells like the River Styx.

  • Post your own simile on the “Comments” page!

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

Skotison

Skotison (sko’-ti-son): Purposeful obscurity.

There is no time like the present (if you know what I mean). There’s a lot brewing that will soon come to a boil, or even boil over.

What are we waiting for? Permission from the naked Emperor?

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

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