Tag Archives: rhetoric


Anastrophe (an-as’-tro-phee): Departure from normal word order for the sake of emphasis. Anastrophe is most often a synonym for hyperbaton, but is occasionally referred to as a more specific instance of hyperbaton: the changing of the position of only a single word.

My days numbered are–like a clock ticking out my hopes. But–just because I have a time finite here on the planet, it does not mean that tomorrow is not another day!

I think I may be good for another 30 or 40 years. Given my age already, that’s a lot of years, but what the hell, I like to hope BIG. It’s a great way of stifling worry and stifled worry is worth more than I can say, especially when the stifling is effortless! Another day tomorrow is. I’m betting on being there.

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

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Anesis (an’-e-sis): Adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis.

Your dog is beautiful, but don’t you get tired of picking up his shit and bagging it every time you go for a walk?

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

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Antanagoge (an’-ta-na’-go-gee): Putting a positive spin on something that is nevertheless acknowledged to be negative or difficult.

You got your MBA. You got you’re first job!   So what, if you work 14 hours a day for peanuts. At least you’ve got a job. That’s more than a lot of people can say. Also, so what if nobody’s ever heard of the company you’re working for. I bet the FBI has! But that’s a positive thing–eventually you could end up being a star witness, gaining the kind of notoriety lots of people would pay for! Or, if you help steer the company’s woes in the ‘right’ direction, you could get a huge pay raise and a high-powered promotion to the top of the heap!

Wow! I envy you, and I hope you don’t get shot on the job or anything like that. And hey, even if you do, somebody will want to make a movie, and if you survived being shot, you’ll get tons of money just for being a consultant.

Things are looking good for you my friend! Take care! Keep you head down! See you around.

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


Anthimeria (an-thi-mer’-i-a): Substitution of one part of speech for another (such as a noun used as a verb).

Trump has porn starred his way to to a whole new level of impropriety. Sure, he had sex with her before he was President. But what the hell does that matter. He cheated on his wife with a porn star while Melania sat home patting her baby bump.

As the dribs and drabs of the despicable personal life Trump leads come out, and his treatment of women as sex objects is made public, one wonders what’s next. Will it be a Roy Moore mockery? A Carlos Danger defection? An Eliot Spitzer $15,000 hooker blitzer?

Or, do we just end up with the Donald Trump Hump-a-Dump–a sexually charged dance routine on Saturday Night Live? Alec Baldwin–are you ready to Trump Hump-a-Dump?

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

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Anthypophora (an’-thi-po’-phor-a): A figure of reasoning in which one asks and then immediately answers one’s own questions (or raises and then settles imaginary objections). Reasoning aloud. Anthypophora sometimes takes the form of asking the audience or one’s adversary what can be said on a matter, and thus can involve both anacoenosis and apostrophe.

Where are we headed? More expensive cans! More expensive cars! More expensive bridges! More expensive skyscrapers! More expensive steel.

Trade wars are good? Easy to win? No, they are not easy to win. In fact, nobody wins–short term or long term, everybody takes a hit.

And then there’s aluminum: we only mine a tiny bit of bauxite (makes aluminum) in the US. Is there going to be a tariff on bauxite? What can we do about that? Nothing.

Is this trade war thing a good idea? No, certainly not!

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

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Antimetabole (an’-ti-me-ta’-bo-lee): Repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order.

We go forward, we go back. We go back, we go forward. Again and again. Nothing gets resolved. “Resolved” gets nothing.

He said, “Promises are made to be kept” and he kept promising and the promises were never kept. He said at the Town Hall Meeting: “Ask not what I promised, but promise what I ask.” We all looked at each other, stunned. What he had said seemed to carry some deep meaning.

But I didn’t care what meaning it carried. I was hungry and angry!

Tonight, I wave my axe handle and move along with the crowd. We are storming the White House. We are seeking justice for the lies we had been told. We don’t have a chance of breaking down the fence, but we are moving ahead anyway.

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

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Antimetathesis (an-ti-me-ta’-the-sis): Inversion of the members of an antithesis.

You’re so hot–everybody wants a piece of you.

You’re so cold–you could care less as you rest on your flimsy laurels.

You better start paying attention to your fans: fans are notoriously fickle. Their hot fires of admiration will turn into icebergs over night if you don’t warm up to their overtures.

Cold and Hot, hot and cold: you need to turn up the heat and fan your fans’ flames of love and wonder. They will think it’s cool!

Go for it!

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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.

Ok, so I don’t have a college degree, but I’ve had lots of practical experience working in a lab. We made lots of money and helped a lot of people escape from the dismal realities of their lives. Also, I handled a lot of cash–I know how to keep books, order supplies and make a payroll. We had 8 people working in the lab and employed 50 salespeople.

Just imagine if you’ve got Pete or Patty PhD at the helm and there’s some kind of crisis–say, one of your salespeople gets shot or arrested. Your college grads will probably start crying for their mommies.  I, on the other hand, have had these kinds of experiences and know exactly what to do. Sure, it’s not likely that a vitamin supplement lab will encounter these kinds of problems, but if you have me at the helm in the lab you can rest assured that everything will be quickly under control–and I mean everything. It’s part of my meth-od if you get my drift!

Hire me, and your business will take off, especially if you let me work nights when nobody else is around.

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

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Antisthecon (an-tis’-the-con): Substitution of one sound, syllable, or letter for another within a word. A kind of metaplasm: the general term for changes to word spelling.

We have another Szandal! Or, more clearly a continuation of an ongoing debacle–Dominus Trumpiscum and the Stormy Porn Star (mouth shut for $130,000) apparently had some kind of sex together–her account makes it missionary, his, makes it nothing (the usual denial). Stormy also says that she “almost choked” on Trumpiscum’s well arranged hair–it was the cinnamon-flavored hairspray that almost did her in. She said it “I felt I was chewing on some kind of breakfast cereal made out of smelly blond glass.”

Of course we don’t know if anything Stormy says is true, but we’d sure like to believe it! However it is hard to believe she was chewing on Trumpiscum’s hair! Or is it?  Hmmmm.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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


Antitheton (an-tith’-e-ton): A proof or composition constructed of contraries. Antitheton is closely related to and sometimes confused with the figure of speech that juxtaposes opposing terms, antithesis. However, it is more properly considered a figure of thought (=Topic of Invention: Contraries [a topic of invention in which one considers opposite or incompatible things that are of the same kind (if they are of different kinds, the topic of similarity / difference is more appropriate). Because contraries occur in pairs and exclude one another, they are useful in arguments because one can establish one’s case indirectly, proving one’s own assertion by discrediting the contrary]).


If lying is bad, telling the truth must be good. Seems incontrovertible, right? I wish it was that easy! The classic example: You’re hiding your neighbor from the Nazis. They ask you if you know where she is.  You know where she is, but you lie to save your neighbor’s life. Something in the circumstances trumps lying’s badness in this particular case. You may certainly (?) say that generally speaking telling the truth is the right thing to do & it’s opposite, lying, is consequentially the wrong thing to do: but not always.

So, are there any binary terms with social import that aren’t capable of shedding their ‘differences’ and swapping  consequences in particular circumstances? As in the example above, lying seems morally superior to telling the truth.  Accordingly, although telling the truth and lying are paired and will always be different by definition, in practice, in particular cases their moral valences can and should flip.

Telling the truth to Nazis about the whereabouts of your neighbor may be worse than lying, even the though the Nazis have “every legal right” to arrest your neighbor and deport her off to a concentration camp.

So, what are you going do when a law enforcement officer knocks on your door and pleasantly asks if you know the whereabouts of your undocumented Guatemalan neighbor, who you know is hiding in your garage. Lie? Tell the truth?

To be sure, the severity of the consequences for the ‘hiding’ people in the examples above may be somewhat different as are the motives behind the laws sanctioning their arrests. In both cases though, to the authorities, the people they were hunting were (and are) aliens who were (and are) fair game by law.

Think of all the people who were complicit with the Nazis: “She’s down in my basement.” “She’s hiding in my garage.”

Just remember in a particular case the truth won’t always set you free. It may burden you with doing harm to another human being.

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


Apoplanesis (a-po-plan’-e-sis): Promising to address the issue but effectively dodging it through a digression.

Q: What can you tell us about the so-called “Russian connection”?

A: I can tell you a little bit–it’s about connections. We live in a world where we are entwined together. We are all connected in some way. I believe these ‘connections’ are largely the result of social media’s ubiquity. Why, I can feel my phone vibrating in my pocket right now! Ha ha!

Q: Thank you very much.

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


Aposiopesis (a-pos-i-o-pee’-sis): Breaking off suddenly in the middle of speaking, usually to portray being overcome with emotion.

Person: You . . .  You’re President Trump! I can’t believe I’ve met you here . . . right here at Bear Bottoms! Best pole dancing club in Utah. Can I buy you a drink?

Him: No. Hmmm, uh, I thought this was a national monument–I’m looking for Bears Ears, not bottoms. I must’ve taken a wrong turn back there in Salt Lake City somewhere.

Person: But this is clearly a bar–and a sleazy one at that!  How could you possibly mistake it for a pair of mesas out in the middle of nowhere?

Him: Security! Take this guy for a walk.

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


Apostrophe (a-pos’-tro-phe): Turning one’s speech from one audience to another. Most often, apostrophe occurs when one addresses oneself to an abstraction, to an inanimate object, or to the absent.

There was a time when we had faith in you cruel Democracy!

We were naive to think that our will would prevail in a world soaked with stupidity, malice, prejudice and fear: Stupidity, Malice, Prejudice and Fear–you are the death knell of democracy’s hope. As you circle freedom’s skies tolling loudly, drowning out the sounds of love, optimism, charity and peace people look up to you, able only to hear your rumbling spite-filled proclamations.

When the peoples’ will is rotten, where do we turn to save democracy’s soul? We turn to you Democracy! To persuasion. To truth. To the light of day and the bright guiding stars of night.

Together, we shall close the abyss and pave the way toward better days: days that celebrate our faith in “we the people” and the mysterious bonds of friendship and trust that can bind us together without without tying us down: that can fulfill our need for autonomy and connectedness: my need for me and our need for us.

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.

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 (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 (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: 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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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)