Tag Archives: rhetoric

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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Syllepsis

Syllepsis (sil-lep’-sis): When a single word that governs or modifies two or more others must be understood differently with respect to each of those words. A combination of grammatical parallelism and semantic incongruity, often with a witty or comical effect. Not to be confused with zeugma: [a general term describing when one part of speech {most often the main verb, but sometimes a noun} governs two or more other parts of a sentence {often in a series}].

You anointed yourself, your wife, and your press secretary. To what we are not sure, but from where I’m sitting it looks like the Three Stooges, with you taking on the persona and appearance of Curly?

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

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Symploce

Symploce (sim’-plo-see or sim’-plo-kee): The combination of anaphora and epistrophe: beginning a series of lines, clauses, or sentences with the same word or phrase while simultaneously repeating a different word or phrase at the end of each element in this series.

There are wild decisions being made in the White House.

There are ill-considered pronouncements coming from the White House.

There are lies coming from the White House.

There are massive problems coming from the White House.

Where will it end?

When will it end?

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

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Synaloepha

Synaloepha (sin-a-lif’-a): Omitting one of two vowels which occur together at the end of one word and the beginning of another. A contraction of neighboring syllables. A kind of metaplasm.

Science says stay on track: Facts say it all. Being a doubter is admirable sometimes, but when it may cost the future to/our planet due to global warming, stick to the facts. Believe the facts! That’s what facts are for!

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

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Synathroesmus

Synathroesmus (sin-ath-res’-mus): 1. The conglomeration of many words and expressions either with similar meaning (= synonymia) or not (= congeries).  2. A gathering together of things scattered throughout a speech (= accumulatio [:Bringing together various points made throughout a speech and presenting them again in a forceful, climactic way. A blend of summary and climax.])

Where is my health, my heart, my winsome smile? I do not know. I do not see. I do not agree. As you can see, I am not easy to get along with, just like my health and my heart don’t get along with me. My winsome smile is a thing of the past. It’s over. It’s no more. It’s gone.

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

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Synecdoche (si-nek’-do-kee): A whole is represented by naming one of its parts (or genus named for species), or vice versa (or species named for genus).

He held his glass up high as he got ready to toast the woman in flats: the woman of his dreams, the woman he just married, the woman he was looking forward to spending the rest of his life with.

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

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Synonymia

Synonymia (si-no-ni’-mi-a): In general, the use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds emotional force or intellectual clarity. Synonymia often occurs in parallel fashion. The Latin synonym, interpretatio, suggests the expository and rational nature of this figure, while another Greek synonym, congeries, suggests the emotive possibilities of this figure.

He was a big, huge, hulking man. He had a heart of gold, silver, and platinum all rolled into one precious object beating to the meter of a beautiful love poem.

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

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Synthesis

Synthesis (sin’-the-sis): An apt arrangement of a composition, especially regarding the sounds of adjoining syllables and words.

There is enough beach to teach us a thing or two. This time of the year it’s empty. In a month or two you will be back here, hair blowing in the wind, swimsuit on, sun shining: a perfect day to get away from all your fears. You will ride the surf toward shore, step off your board and do it again.

Summer is the angel of time: absorb the beauty. Live well!

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

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Syntheton

Syntheton (sin’-the-ton): When by convention two words are joined by a conjunction for emphasis.

Brownies and ice cream!

Bacon and eggs!

This food and that food, if they belong together, they belong together!

Brownies and ice cream–yum!

Bacon and eggs–yum!

Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum.

They belong together!

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

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Synzeugma

Synzeugma (sin-zoog’-ma): That kind of zeugma in which a verb joins (and governs) two phrases by coming between them. A synonym for mesozeugma.

All kind of fuzzy, the day dragged on, with boredom bouts to keep it uninteresting. Not your typical day at the office when everything pops and cracks like a fireworks display. I guess it was Monday that was driving us to sleep at our desks! Come on Tuesday–you are welcome to show up today if you can liven things up just a little bit. Let’s have a Tuesday kind of Monday!

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

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Systrophe

Systrophe (si’-stro-fee): The listing of many qualities or descriptions of someone or something, without providing an explicit definition.

He wore big black leather boots. His blond hair was slicked straight back, held in place by some kind of industrial strength gel. He stood on the corner of two busy streets as if the corner was his front porch. His mustache drooped below his mouth. His coat had a shiny badge shaped like an octagon pinned to the front–a little crookedly. He looked straight into my eyes and turned around and walked away, slapping his golden truncheon in the palm of his hand. I was glad it was his hand and not my head.

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

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Tapinosis

Tapinosis  (ta-pi-no’-sis): Giving a name to something which diminishes it in importance.

So, where did you get your new Muddy Benz? Was it at an auction?

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

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Tmesis

Tmesis (tmee’-sis): Interjecting a word or phrase between parts of a compound word or between syllables of a word.

The far right outer space Re-nutty-publicans have a long way to go before their health care bill becomes the law of the land.

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

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Topographia

Topographia (top-o-graf’-i-a): Description of a place. A kind of enargia [: {en-ar’-gi-a} generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description].

It had one smeared window overlooking a crowded parking lot. It smelled like stale cigarette smoke. The carpet was shaggy brown–I’m sure it absorbed and hid the dirt. The bed was small–a single about as wide as a tight kitchen countertop. The green bedspread looked like a wilted spinach salad–all rumpled up like the last occupant had just jumped out of it as I came through the door. The walls were light yellow–smoke stained. There was a small plastic plant on the dresser and the TV was small–not much larger than a cereal box.

This was the “free room” that I earned by winning the contest where I had to write a vivid description of my ideal motel room.

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

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Traductio

Traductio (tra-duk’-ti-o): Repeating the same word variously throughout a sentence or thought. Some authorities restrict traductio further to mean repeating the same word but with a different meaning (see ploceantanaclasis, and diaphora), or in a different form (polyptoton). If the repeated word occurs in parallel fashion at the beginnings of phrases or clauses, it becomes anaphora; at the endings of phrases or clauses, epistrophe.

I have a new lawnmower. It is huge–more like a tractor than a lawnmower! But when the grass grows it mows–so it’s a lawnmower!

I’m glad I have such a big and trusty lawnmower! No matter how big it is, it’ll always be a trusty lawnmower to me.

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

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