Tag Archives: rhetoric


Exergasia (ex-er-ga’-si-a): Repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given. A method for amplification, variation, and explanation. As such, exergasia compares to the progymnasmata exercises (rudimentary exercises intended to prepare students of rhetoric for the creation and performance of complete practice orations).

My shoe. My shoe. I lost my left shoe.

Uh oh. I can’t find my right shoe either.

Where are my shoes? Taking a vacation?

Where are my shoes? On the way to a landfill?

Where are my shoes? I don’t care about your shoes. I’m looking for my shoes!

Where are my shoes? I know where my socks are! Look–they’re on my feet! I’m looking for my shoes!

I give up. I’ll order a new pair of shoes from Zappos. So, I’ll be here at least another two days waiting for them to arrive. I hope you don’t mind.

What! You found my shoes?

What? You’re going to stick them up my what? Please don’t.

I hid them under the bed so I could spend another couple of days with you while I waited for my new pair from Zappos.

Don’t you see? I love you. I just want to spend more time with you.

Wait! Those aren’t my shoes.

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


Exouthenismos (ex-ou-then-is’-mos): An expression of contempt.

You make me sick! You cheat on your wife. You cheat on your taxes, and you’re going to cheat the American people if you get elected. You make me sick.

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

Expeditio (ex-pe-di’-ti-o): After enumerating all possibilities by which something could have occurred, the speaker eliminates all but one (=apophasis). Although the Ad Herennium author lists expeditio as a figure, it is more properly considered a method of argument [and pattern of organization] (sometimes known as the “Method of Residues” when employed in refutation[, and “Elimination Order” when employed to organize a speech. The reference to ‘method’ hearkens back to the Ramist connection between organizational patterns of discourses and organizational pattern of arguments]).

Me: Why are you going to school today?

1. To hang out with friends?

2. To make trouble?


3. To learn something?

Number One is a waste of time. Number Two is a total disaster. That leaves number three–learning is school’s purpose!

So, “to learn something” is why you’re going to school today. Right?

You: Yes, Ma.

Me: Good! You’re on your way to fame and fortune!

You: Yes, Ma.

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


Exuscitatio (ex-us-ci-ta’-ti-o): Stirring others by one’s own vehement feeling (sometimes by means of a rhetorical question, and often for the sake of exciting anger).

How many times are we going to let them get away with it? I am sick and tired of the same old excuses and attempts to “quiet us down” like we’re small children.

You know what I want, and it’s what WE want too!

I want my chocolate milk!

I want chocolate milk with breakfast!

I want chocolate milk with lunch!

I want chocolate milk with dinner!

I want chocolate milk!

Are you with me!!?

WE want chocolate milk?

Yes, We want Chocolate milk!

All right!

Let’s crowd around the med dispensary window and show these zookeepers who’s boss!

Chocolate milk!

All power to the people!

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


Gnome (nome or no’-mee): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adageapothegmmaximparoemiaproverb, and sententia.

Ingratitude is the essence of adolescence.

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


Graecismus (gree-kis’-mus): Using Greek words, examples, or grammatical structures. Sometimes considered an affectation of erudition.

One’s pathos is a function of soma. All the logos in the world won’t budge it.

This is a common topos of Western thought–the psyche/soma distinction. As long as we believe in its epistemic virtue we will continue to divide ourselves along along the line the distinction draws, which, as a matter of fact, is a deeply cultured pattern of self-understanding that opens and forecloses opportunities for accounting for experience.

Do I feel in order to think?

Do I think in order to feel?

Oh–what about ethos–your perception of my credibility? Not ‘pure’ logos? Not ‘pure’ pathos?

What then?


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


Heterogenium (he’-ter-o-gen-i-um): Avoiding an issue by changing the subject to something different. Sometimes considered a vice.

News Reporter: Some Republicans say you’ve built a wall between yourself and the rest of the Republican party. What’s your take on that?

Donald: There are walls and there are walls. Let me tell you about the wall I know the most about! It’s a big tall wall along the Mexican border. It will keep out the illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and gang members that are wreaking havoc all over this once-great country of ours.

After I win the election in November, the first thing I will do is build the wall. And you know what? Mexico is going to pay for every inch of it–from San Diego, California to somewhere in Texas, they’re going to pay for every inch! Believe me!

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


Homoioptoton (ho-mee-op-to’-ton): The repetition of similar case endings in adjacent words or in words in parallel position.

Note: Since this figure only works with inflected languages, it has often been conflated with homoioteleuton and (at least in English) has sometimes become equivalent to simple rhyme: “To no avail, I ate a snail.”

He was running amok with a blowtorch. He lit up the front porch. It went up like a gasoline-soaked pile of leaves, flames licking the eaves as if to be burning the whole house down; hot bubbling paint dripping and oddly sticking to the charring wood.

Everybody cheering, for the old cranky man was thwarted–no front porch–no old man screaming! No more obscenities hurled at every adult and every child within earshot (and beyond).

It was cruel, yes, but it was necessary–everybody on the block agreed.

The firefighters came and put out the fire, but little did anybody even imagine that there would be a ‘next round’ of cranky old-man ire.

6.00am, Tuesday, October 17, 2016: Person walking past the cranky old man’s house. Second-story window flies open: “Hey you ass$ole, get the fu%k off my fu*king sidewalk.”

When I heard the news, all I could say was, “Here we go again, goddammit.”

The Cherry Street Neighborhood Association called a special meeting for 7.00pm. Everybody already agrees that murdering the cranky old man is probably right. The BIG QUESTIONS ARE: how are we going to do it, who exactly is going to do it, and should it be done during the day or during the night?

I arrive promptly at 7.00pm. The discussion moved quickly.

“Nobody wants to spend their life in prison, but nobody wants to spend their life being cursed every time they walk down their street.

Who will volunteer to murder the cranky old man?

Should we hire a professional assassin?

Maybe we should just have the cranky old man’s vocal chords removed? There must be a veterinarian in the neighborhood who could silence the cranky old man for good.”

The meeting-hall doors burst wide open.

“You sh%t for brains bastard motherfu#king toad-ass slime-bucket fu#k-faced sh*t eaters need to get a fu#king life!”

It was the cranky old man!

Ed Wallace (mild-mannered insurance salesman) pulled out his Glock.

“Blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam, blam.” Fifteen times!

Every shot missed.

“Fuc* you deadeye” yelled the cranky old man as he hobbled out the door, two middle fingers extended in the air.

The Cherry Street Block Association took a vote.

“Remove vocal chords” got the most votes. They would kidnap the cranky old man, blindfold him, and take him to the Joyful Noise Pet Clinic for silencing by Joel Gruber, a successful veterinarian who lives in the Cherry Street neighborhood.

It was risky and cruel, but it had to be done. The cranky old man was not one single tiny-teeny-weeny bit of fun: he was a menace–an earsore that had to be silenced by the removal of his disgustingly vulgar vocal chords.

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


Homoioteleuton (ho-mee-o-te-loot’-on): Similarity of endings of adjacent or parallel words.

I left my watch on the dresser alongside of my bed. What was going through my head? Here I am without doubt about where I left it, but without a clue to when I can get home to retrieve it.

I guess “mess” is too strong a word to describe what it is for me to be watchless.

Anyway, my cellphone gives me the time of day! That’s more than I can say for my colleagues here at the office.

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


Horismus (hor-is’-mus): Providing a clear, brief definition, especially by explaining differences between associated terms

CLEAR: Time is change given utility by its humanly crafted measures (i.e., seconds, years, etc.). Additionally, time may be an opening providing the rationale for what happens/happened next  (i.e., season, opportunity, etc.).

CONVOLUTED: Time is a feature of human consciousness creating and comparing differences within archetypal oppositions of now and then afforded by memory and imagination; where accounts of experience are scripted as mechanical increments and organic openings–where actions are constrained by the ever-present confluence of chronology and opportunity constituting circumstances and the application of deeply cultured ideals of what is fitting as motives to decision.

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


Hypallage (hy-pal’-la-ge): Shifting the application of words. Mixing the order of which words should correspond with which others. Also, sometimes, a synonym for metonymy (see Quintilian).

I was eating a piece of wistful chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream on top of it. I had worked for the Crown of Creation Casket Company for 45 years.

I am retiring, and this is my party.

My retirement gift is a beautiful burgundy smoking jacket made from the finest velvet the company uses to line it’s “Regal Cruise” selection of caskets.

I tried the jacket on in the men’s room and couldn’t help feeling like I was important–like I was going to a better place–not the better place where our clients go–just a better place, like the mall, or a state park, or the movies.

I nearly laughed out loud as I grabbed another piece of cake and scooped a giant plop of vanilla ice cream on top of it. There’s a problem: I don’t even smoke!


But, I do drink 4 glasses of wine every night.


You can sit in a big comfy chair and drink and smoke. Consequently, drinking won’t put undue strain, or wear, on the jacket! That is, like smoking, drinking is a sedentary activity. It may involve a bit more exercise, like getting up and pouring another drink, but by and large one sits and drinks just like one sits and smokes.

Problem solved: I will make my smoking jacket into a drinking jacket. Instead of keeping a lighter in its pocket, I’ll carry a corkscrew.

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


Hyperbaton (hy-per’-ba-ton): 1. An inversion of normal word order. A generic term for a variety of figures involving transposition, it is sometimes synonymous with anastrophe. 2. Adding a word or thought to a sentence that is already semantically complete, thus drawing emphasis to the addition.

There, ‘enough’ isn’t what it’s supposed to be. How does one get ‘enough’ happiness, beauty, love and the all the rest of want’s wanting–haunting every aspect of life’s ongoing disintegration, enough! Enough! Damn it! That’s enough! Quite enough.

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


Hysterologia (his-ter-o-lo’-gi-a): A form of hyperbaton or parenthesis in which one interposes a phrase between a preposition and its object.  Also, a synonym for hysteron proteron.

I was in with bare feet the recycling bin. Luckily there was no broken glass so I was able to dance the “Ecology Dance” in celebration of Earth Day.

It was awesome. As I danced, I became an organic cucumber anxious to ‘go salad’ for a happy little vegetarian family or single mom living a terrible life in the filthy crime-ridden city. I would bring magical ‘cuke rays’ to dispel her darkness, and allowing myself to be sliced up, become part of her fresh, safe, and healthy salad.

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

Hysteron Proteron

Hysteron Proteron (his’-ter-on pro’-ter-on): Disorder of time. (What should be first, isn’t.)

The applause shook the building. I was on my way to my final performance of “Rigatoni.” Why am I hearing applause? Why am I in a building?

I’m not. I’m riding in a limo. Time is going forward and backward. I am a child. I am a baby. I am a teenager. I am warping full speed toward the end of my career. In 45 minutes I’ll be tossing the pasta for last time–smooth marinara sauce, spicy sausage, sumptuous cheese–stringy, sticky–the applause! Oh the applause. I haven’t done anything–the applause comes after, not before my performance of “Rigatoni.” Why am I hearing applause?

I’m watching the Weather Channel. I’m lost. How did I get here: I got out of the car. I got in the car. I took off my pajamas. I got in bed. I woke up. Oh, I know: it’s my birthday. Give me a drink and I’ll perform “Rigatoni.”

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


Inopinatum (in-o-pi-na’-tum): The expression of one’s inability to believe or conceive of something; a type of faux wondering. As such, this kind of paradox is much like aporia and functions much like a rhetorical question or erotema. [A paradox is] a statement that is self-contradictory on the surface, yet seems to evoke a truth nonetheless [can include oxymoron].

I can’t believe you’re going to Florida when the rest of us are stuck here at home! What kind of priorities do you have? Me First? Everybody else second? Come on! Give us a break.

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

Inter se pugnantia

Inter se pugnantia (in’-ter-say-pug-nan’-ti-a): Using direct address to reprove someone before an audience, pointing out the contradictions in that person’s character, often between what a person does and says.

You say you want to make America great again, yet what you’re actually doing is grating America–shredding it to pieces with your polarizing speech.

America was great before you got involved in politics. If you really want to make America great again, go back to your Tower and stay there.

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


Intimation: Hinting at a meaning but not stating it explicitly.

There’s a way of saying some things that puts them into a rather unsavory, even reprehensible, category of speech.

I’ll drop the pretense my friend (?): You are lying.

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


Isocolon (i-so-co’-lon): A series of similarly structured elements having the same length. A kind of parallelism.

400 million dollars. 400 million lies. 400 million reasons to kiss this guy goodbye.

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


Kategoria (ka-te-go’-ri-a): Opening the secret wickedness of one’s adversary before his [or her] face.

It took a bunch of Russians hacking your email to find out, but now we know for certain that you tried to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

You are despicable!

You should be beyond ashamed.

Say goodbye to Philadelphia & go back to the swamp you crawled out of.

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


Litotes (li-to’-tees): Deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite. The Ad Herennium author suggests litotes as a means of expressing modesty (downplaying one’s accomplishments) in order to gain the audience’s favor (establishing ethos).

I’m not the most successful person you’ll ever know, and I haven’t travelled to every country in the world. But, let me tell you, I’ve accomplished enough and seen enough to know that I can lead this nation, and with your help, make it great again!

Make America Great Again!

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


Martyria (mar-tir’-i-a): Confirming something by referring to one’s own experience.

See this scar?

It’s a token of pain. A trace of violence. An image of risk. A jagged lesson scribbled across my belly in slicing intersected strokes.

Clearly, I’m alive. Clearly, I survived the angry blade. Clearly, I fought back, or I would’t be here right now; I wouldn’t be standing right here, alive and well and ready to show you my plan–the plan that saved my life!

Simple! Here it is: It’s called a Glock. I emptied the magazine into the lunatic who was attacking me.

Problem solved!

I encourage you to try my plan!

If you can pull the trigger, you can defend yourself with a Glock!

Fire away!

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


Maxim (max’-im): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adageapothegmgnomeparoemiaproverb, and sententia.

Yes, we’re all standing up to our knees in recrimination, accusations and vituperation. And yes, we all know, as the ancient sage La-zee Too wisely said, “When the going gets tough, it’s hard to get going.”

Today, it’s so hard to get going many of us are considering quitting once and for all!

Well, let me tell you, that wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing. We’ve been putting up with this crap for months and months now–months and months of taking it on the chin, in the gut, and over the head.

So, let’s just quit. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially if we can pretend there’s a higher purpose being served by our quitting, being disloyal, and running out on the promises we made.

Hey I’ve got it! Let’s use “self respect” as our back door!

Check this out: No self-respecting human being would put up with the way we’re being treated; especially being called bad names by our enemies!

It’s like the famous Japanese Chef said, “If you can’t stand the heat, don’t sit near the hibachi.” Well, we can’t stand the heat and we’re moving away from the hibachi–far, far away where names can’t hurt us, promises don’t need to be kept, and we can regain our self respect.

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


Medela (me-de’-la): When you can’t deny or defend friends’ faults and seek to heal them with good words.

Ok, ok. They may not appear to be completely her words, but the sentiments she expressed with them are certainly hers–she’s a loving wife and mother, and a respectful daughter with solid values and high moral ideals. She loves America and is probably deeply pained by what she’s accused of. Let’s give her a break and try to help mend her broken heart. Let’s focus on the sentiments and not who expressed them first. Originality isn’t the issue. In fact, just the opposite is the case.

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


Meiosis (mei-o’-sis): Reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes). This term is equivalent to tapinosis.

Imagine, calling a string of commonplace cliches “plagiarism.” Melania was simply stating truisms–the kinds of things that common sense dictates when you’re talking about your parents’ advice and influence, raising children, and being an American. It’s like saying “I love you” is plagiarized because it’s been said countless times before!

What do I have to do now, think of a new way to say “I love you” because there’s a Valentine’s card that already says it?

I’ll tell you what! Nobody’s going to make me find a different way to say “I love you,”even if you call me a plagiarist! I love you is I love you. How else do I say it?

Speaking from the heart is not plagiarism, no matter how much it may sound like what other people say when they speak from the heart.

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


Mempsis (memp’-sis): Expressing complaint and seeking help.

I was led to believe that this powder would grow hair on my head! So far, I’ve dumped a kilo on my bald spot and nothing’s happened.

Well, something’s happened: there’s an abundance of hair growing out of my nose and ears–there’s lots of it & it isn’t very attractive. Also, hairy warts have popped up on my cheeks & I’m getting a hump on my back.

What the hell have you done to me?

Fix it!

What? You say I bought the “Troll Formula” by mistake?

So, what can you do to fix it?


I need to hide under a bridge for a week & and eat at least one ill-tempered billy goat?

That’s asking a lot, but I am getting a little hungry for billy goat.

Where’s the bridge?

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