Tag Archives: rhetoric

Asteismus 

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.

Paul R.: I would never collude with the Russians!

Adam S.: You better hope you’re right or you’ll never get out of prison.

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

Colon 

Colon (ko’-lon): Roughly equivalent to “clause” in English, except that the emphasis is on seeing this part of a sentence as needing completion, either with a second colon (or membrum) or with two others (forming a tricolon). When cola (or membra) are of equal length, they form isocolon.

Colon or membrum 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 slower speed of concatenated membra to the quicker speed of words joined together without conjunction (articulus).

I had a car. I had a house. I had a wife. Everything was great until my wife went nuts. She wrecked the car. She burned down the house. Then, she got a lawyer. Now, she’s out on bail. I’m living in an apartment and taking the bus to work. As far as I’m concerned things couldn’t get much worse, unless she finds out about my previous marriage. My previous wife disappeared in New Jersey without a trace. I was cleared of any wrongdoing, but try to get anybody in Jersey to believe it! They were all against me–unfair, unreasonable, uncharitable. I’ve been living here in Ohio for the past 12 years without a trace of wrongdoing. Did I say “Without a trace?” Whoops.

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

Congeries 

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

Crying, sweating, stumbling, falling, passing out. Today, I tried walking home from work. If a passerby hadn’t known CPR and performed it on me I’d be resting in the morgue right now!

I’m going to check my health insurance policy and my ‘final expense’ policy tonight. If they’re in good order, I’ll try walking to work in the morning.

I think I’ll buy some sweatpants and t-shirts on Amazon and carry my suit and tie in a shopping bag. I think my loafers will work for footwear, but I may have to buy some walking shoes too.

If I die tomorrow, you can have my glass kangaroo collection and giant ice cream bowl–my two most prized possessions: valuable, delicate, different and beautiful. I’ve spent a lot of good quality time arranging and rearranging my kangaroos while eating Chocolate-Covered Cupcake ice cream from my bowl–which, as you know, is made from silver and is encrusted with moonstones.

Wish me luck and pass the kale and beans! Big day tomorrow!

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

Consonance

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.

What he knew he lacked in substance he backed with pounding fists, vague references to “things” and snide asides directed toward his adversaries.  He was a dangerous hack–a puffed-up throwback to the glory days of demagogues, dictators and political thugs. We owe it to ourselves to put politicians like him on shelves labeled “Poison: Do Not Elect.”

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

Correctio

Correctio (cor-rec’-ti-o): The amending of a term or phrase just employed; or, a further specifying of meaning, especially by indicating what something is not (which may occur either before or after the term or phrase used). A kind of redefinition, often employed as a parenthesis (an interruption) or as a climax.

Jeff Flake–is that Little Jeffy Snow Flake? Big Jeffery Dandruff Flake? Or, Whiny Jeffin Corn Flake?

Wait! Those are the wrong questions to ask.

I should ask: what’s a fallen Flake like you doing criticizing me? Snow, dandruff and breakfast cereal are too good for you to be compared to!

Have a happy retirement Mr. Liar.

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

Deesis

Deesis (de’-e-sis): An adjuration (solemn oath) or calling to witness; or, the vehement expression of desire put in terms of “for someone’s sake” or “for God’s sake.”

Bozo: I swear on my mother’s grave that I would never cheat on you baby. You mean the world to me. For God’s sake, you’ve got to believe me.

Other: Your mother’s in the next room watching Jeopardy on TV. She’s alive. How can you swear on her grave?

Bozo: Oh–hmm–I should’ve said her burial plot.

Other: Where’s her burial plot?

Bozo: Well, I actually haven’t bought it yet. Here’s the brochure. I could swear on the brochure. Is that good enough for you baby?

Other: No, and who is that woman sitting next your mother on the couch?

Bozo: Um well, she’d an old friend. She stopped by to use the bathroom and decided to stay and watch TV with my mother. Don’t worry, there’s nothing between us–except you and my mother–ha ha ha.

Other: Have a good life Bozo. Good bye.

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

Dehortatio

Dehortatio (de-hor-ta’-ti-o): Dissuasion.

If you keep doing that you’ll get warts on your hand and everybody will know what you’ve been doing.

Do you want that to happen?

You better quit.

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

Dendographia

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

There so many trees that are older than me. There is one in my woods. It is a white pine tree that, judging by its size,  is at least 80 years old. I am 70. I look up at it–it’s probably 100 feet tall. I am 6′ 2″ tall–I weigh around 200, the white pine probably weighs a ton.

The tree is graceful. As it sways in wind, its pinecones fall to earth and feed squirrels, chipmunks, mice and probably more! Additionally, its pinecones’ seeds sometimes sprout, take root and grow into new trees.

The white pine’s branches are covered with “needles”–green pin-like growths that do the work of leaves, and have a fragrance that says “Welcome to the woods.” Also, beneath the white pine, the ground is carpeted with sweet-smelling needles that have turned brown and make a soft place to rest or relax and daydream.

In sum, the white pine is a towering tribute to nature’s expressions of its beauty, diversity, and endurance.

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

Diacope 

Diacope (di-a’-co-pee): Repetition of a word with one or more between, usually to express deep feeling.

What? Me, self-absorbed? I can’t imagine what would make you think I’m self-absorbed.

I take care of myself. I watch out for my interests. I stay in the lead. That’s called being prudent.

I think what you’re saying is stupid. Self absorbed? Me? Never!

Well-balanced? Bright? Articulate? Most important person in the world? Definite yes, yes, yes, yes.

Now, get out of here. You’re fired!

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

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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Enantiosis

Enantiosis (e-nan-ti-o’-sis): Using opposing or contrary descriptions together, typically in a somewhat paradoxical manner.

Tomorrow I shall kill. The blood will flow, yet many people will be grateful. They will be grateful for the cuts of meat to sacrifice to the soft white clouds moving across the blue sky, to the light breezes that make tree branches hardly sway in the summer heat, and the empty quiet battlefields blessed with the quiet of peace: to Nuada, god of the sky, the wind, and war.

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

Enigma

Enigma (e-nig’-ma): Obscuring one’s meaning by presenting it within a riddle or by means of metaphors that purposefully challenge the reader or hearer to understand.

We are living in strange times–times that are riddled with the prospect for riddles!

So:

Q: Poor people have it. Rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it?

It is kind of like health insurance.

The answer is nothing. It does not quite fit, but it’s good enough to make my point.

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