Tag Archives: rhetoric

Aporia

Aporia (a-po’-ri-a): 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 [=diaporesis].

I can’t remember everything—I want to remember everything. Please, memory! Drag it up. Give me a chance. I am normal, and normally our memories are incomplete. Where is my past? Where is your past? Like everybody’s, my past is fragmented. I am missing whole stretches of my being-in-the-world. What happened? If I remembered everything that happened I would be whole instead of being a puzzle piece looking for it’s puzzle, to fit in, to be a part of the picture.

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

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Aposiopesis

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


Then she told me to get . . . to get bent. I don’t even know what the hell “get bent” means, but she was really mad. She threw a bar of soap at me & it hurt like hell. Look at the bruise on my forehead!

I never should’ve called her husband a moron. I thought for sure she would agree with me! She’s been cheating on him with me for at least year and he doesn’t suspect a damn thing. That’s moronic, but she doesn’t think so. Damn!


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

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Apostrophe

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.


Thank you for coming.

Isn’t it strange how attached we become to our cars and trucks? You’ve probably noticed the bare spot on my lawn where I have parked my old rusted truck for the past fifteen years. Since my truck is gone, now, I’d like to say a few words marking his passing.

Buck the Truck. Were you my friend? We rode the open roads with my daughter strapped into her car seat. We got speeding tickets. We got warnings. Your brakes failed coming down a hill with my daughter by my side. We were almost killed as we rolled across a major highway in Massachusetts, unable to stop at the intersection. Then your driveshaft fell off 2 days later, and then the muffler. I’ve always fixed you Buck, but now Buck, we’ve reached the end of the road. When the battery bracket rusted and fell into your engine, spraying battery acid all over the place under the hood, and a little bit on the windshield, that was it for me.

Public Radio’s tow truck has taken you to your next incarnation: a junkyard. Accordingly, you have become a tax deductible $200 donation. Crushed into a cube of steel, you will swing in the air, embraced by a giant magnet and destined to reincarnate as a part of a kitchen appliance, another car or truck, or a girder at a construction site—maybe a college or university. Although I am sad, for safety’s sake, I had to let you go, my friend. If it’s any solace, I’ve gotten a tattoo of you on my right calf. Likewise, my daughter has done so too.

Thank-you again for coming.


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

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Apothegm

Apothegm (a’-po-th-e-gem): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings, including adage, gnome, maxim, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.


“Truth is a lie that is true.” This is so true. I learned it at Camp Flaming Blue Weasel, deep in the mountains of Delaware. Our guru Dave led us through spirit “remodeling” exercises and we ate bland food, like boiled white paper and freshly cut Fescue grass. After a week, I punched Dave on the jaw. I knocked him down. He laid on the floor whining like a big injured dog, like an Irish Setter.

I was thrown out of Camp Flaming Blue Weasel. It just goes to show you: “When you think you are going to make trouble, sit down and shut up.” I think this is in the Bible.


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

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Appositio

Appositio (ap-po-sit’-i-o): Addition of an adjacent, coordinate, explanatory or descriptive element.


I stood by the big gray rock—a fixture on the farm—possibly as old as Earth. Isolated as a child, far from town, no television, no neighbors for 10 miles, no pets, no friends, the big brown rock sort of became a source of solace. That is, when I was with it I felt like I was in the company of something that had consciousness. It didn’t talk. It didn’t move. It didn’t gaze.

I didn’t tell anybody about the big brown rock. I would have been put under observation in the insane asylum in Brisbane. 20 years ago, the big brown rock was struck by lightning. A bunch of small pieces—stones—were chipped off by the lightening. 10 years ago on a visit, I picked up a stone and put it in my pocket. I’ve been carrying it in my pocket ever since. When people ask me why I always have “that stone” in my pocket, I tell them “l don’t know.” It’s true, I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.


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

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Ara

Ara (a’-ra): Cursing or expressing detest towards a person or thing for the evils they bring, or for inherent evil.


I can’t find any way around it. I hate you. I hate you as much as I will revel in your death—cold, hard, lonely suffering. You were supposedly called by God when you became a Christian priest. But you were not called by anything except your perverse sexual desires .

You are morally rotted: befriending, grooming and teaching: not history or math, but Depravity 101. You should be chopped apart while you are awake—your legs cut into cubes of meat and thrown into a dumpster to be scavenged by wild animals.

I hate you for what you did me and all the others. I hope you are beaten senseless every day in prison. I hope you are murdered and cremated and your ashes flushed down a toilet or scattered over a landfill. I hate you.


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

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Articulus

Articulus (ar-tic’-u-lus): Roughly equivalent to “phrase” in English, except that the emphasis is on joining several phrases (or words) successively without any conjunctions (in which case articulus is simply synonymous with the Greek term asyndeton). See also brachylogia.

Articulus 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 the slower speed of concatenated membra (see membrum) to the quicker speed possible via articulus.


Time, Hell, money, truth. There is no semblance of leisure here on the edge. Here, where everything I know is past. The future? Never. The present? Fleeting: a small dessert eaten while standing up.

Paris. London. Madrid. I am seeking refuge from the silence and the moon. Call me. Show me you care.


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

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Aschematiston

Aschematiston: The use of plain, unadorned or unornamented language. Or, the unskilled use of figurative language. A vice. [Outside of any particular context of use or sense of its motive, it may be difficult to determine what’s “plain, unadorned or unornamented language.” The same is true of the “unskilled use of figurative language.”]


1. This is a mess. You spilled your milk and dumped your Spaghettios on the floor. I’m going to pretend I never saw this, but you should consider heading back to Kentucky and working as a school crossing guard or something like that. What do you think, Mitch?

2. The sky is a sponge squeezing it’s juice on the peanut butter earth: like a forked wing flying around in circles spitting invisible lice into the air, it rains down a blood-sucking shower of Truth.


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

Asphalia

Asphalia (as-fay’-li-a): Offering oneself as a guarantee, usually for another.


I have been a fry-cook for 22 years. I’ve flipped more burgers than any single McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but it is close to true. I taught Elrond, my son, all he knows, and I believe his prowess as a fry-cook surpasses mine. In addition to burgers, he can do omelettes and steaks, and oysters, and much, much more. Additionally, Elrond is easy-going and gets along well with other people.

I hope you would consider him for the fry-cook position that just opened. I will mentor him and see to it that he does well. I’ve been working here for the past 9 years. I know I’ve earned your trust. If Elrond does not work out, I’ll resign. I am confident that won’t happen, but I swear I will leave.

See you later!


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


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Assonance

Assonance (ass’-o-nance): Repetition of similar vowel sounds, preceded and followed by different consonants, in the stressed syllables of adjacent words.

Divided all along days and nights of debauchery and prayer, my battered soul battles itself in fits of shame and solace—like a cordless blinker hotly flashing my travails.

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

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Assumptio

Assumptio (as-sump’-ti’o): The introduction of a point to be considered, especially an extraneous argument.

See proslepsis (When paralipsis [stating and drawing attention to something in the very act of pretending to pass it over] is taken to its extreme. The speaker provides full details.).

I’m not going to talk about the killing, the wanton destruction of government property, and basically, the display of anti-democratic abandonment by the Capitol’s invaders. Their numbers and their concerted common cause demand that we find the roots of their solidarity and cut them off as soon as humanly possible.

But all this goes without saying. What really matters is the public discourse that captured their minds and turned them away from democracy’s demand for reasonable and respectful deliberation. Evidently, they were motivated by baseless (lying) repetitive assertions that the elections were rigged, and by a three-word slogan: “Stop the Steal!” On this basis, eschewing reason and evidence, they did what they did—they stormed the Capitol with malice in their hearts.

What we need now, most importantly, is to set up a commission to discover how and why the invaders were prompted by baseless assertions and an accompanying three-word slogan—discourses that may rightfully influence children, but should not influence educated adults. We need to understand this new ‘means of persuasion’ and put groundless assertions and their accompanying slogans back where they belong: in a barrel marked “TOXIC WASTE”, not for their substantive claims, but for their failure to abide by norms of deliberation that constitute informed viewpoints across Democracy’s diverse spectrum of belief. Somehow we must sanction foundational lies and their destructive purveyors. This is an emergency.

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

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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.

Don: The election was stolen.

Normal Person: From where I’m sitting, it looks like your sanity was stolen.

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

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Astrothesia

Astrothesia (as-tro-the’-si-a): A vivid description of stars. One type of enargia.

Lode Star. Pole star. North Star. Without the stars, our ancient forebears would have had nothing to guide them across the open sea.

So much has depended on the stars—from astrology and navigation, to the story of Christ’s birth in the town of Bethlehem.

In recent centuries, noteworthy competitors are called stars: they metaphorically reign on high—Muhammad Ali, Joni Mitchell, Robin Williams—we look up to them like stars shedding their faint light from the edge of the void in night’s all-encompassing darkness, whether alive or dead, their stars shine, and prompting reflection on the stars’ excellence, we may set a course that accords with their course and, like sailors, we may find our direction on life’s open seas.

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

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Asyndeton

Asyndeton (a-syn’-de-ton): The omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect. [Compare brachylogia. Opposite of polysyndeton.]

Hope, faith, charity: the tines of a dull rake tearing at my heart with their scathing absence. I am unable, unwilling, uninvited: unhopeful, unfaithful, uncharitable. I fear. I scoff. I take. There is no forgiveness from anybody anywhere that assuages blunders, bad choices, wrong turns. Only time and forgetting clear the way. But still, we are doomed by our moral compass to navigate toward the abyss. The darkness. The infinite. The void. The end.

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

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Auxesis

Auxesis (ok-see’-sis): (1) Arranging words or clauses in a sequence of increasing force. In this sense, auxesis is comparable to climax and has sometimes been called incrementum. (2) A figure of speech in which something is referred to in terms disproportionately large (a kind of exaggeration or hyperbole). (3) Amplification in general.

(1) We are born. We crawl. We walk. We run. We never get there. Life is like a dull knife—more likely to fatally cut you than a well-sharpened piece of steel, as you push its chipped edge forward and try to carve out your desired future, it slips out of time and guts you.

(2) My credit card is like a license plate affixed to a red limo going 125 MPH toward the gates of Heaven. It vibrates with luxury, fine dining, and gold. It is my partner, my joy, my dream come true, until the end of the month when I cut it up and steal a new one.

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

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Bdelygmia

Bdelygmia (del-ig’-mi-a): Expressing hatred and abhorrence of a person, word, or deed.

Utilize. Where the hell did utilize come from? Why not just say “use?” The people who use utilize instead of use, use a Latinized version of a simple word: “ize” gives the little word bigness, importance, status. At least that’s what the word’s users think. Idiots. Twits. Losers. When I hear it, I hate it, the hatred rubs off on the users of utilize.

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

A version of The Daily Trope is available from Amazon in print and Kindle formats under the title The Book of Tropes.

Bomphiologia

Bomphiologia (bom-phi-o-lo’-gi-a): Exaggeration done in a self-aggrandizing manner, as a braggart.

When the election was stolen from me, I was a little upset. My followers were so upset, out of love for me and my amazing leadership talent, they decided to stage a coup (all on their own). Given their undying affection, they moved. They beat police with flagpoles and a couple fire extinguishers and concealed clubs: all they did was look at me, downtrodden and jacked around, and their anger spontaneously flowed.

They love me, worship me, and have faith in me like their savior. I am their savior. Maybe they’ll riot. Maybe they’ll kill Biden. It won’t be my fault. I am beautiful and they love me.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae”

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Brachylogia

Brachylogia (brach-y-lo’-gi-a): The absence of conjunctions between single words. Compare asyndeton. The effect of brachylogia is a broken, hurried delivery.

Tired. Hungry. Crazy. I peek out the broken window—the window broken by a single shot fired from across the street. It has finally happened—goddamn—another bullet whizzes through the window, killing the cat and lodging in the floor. My daughter cries uncontrollably. My wife stands up and moves toward the window yelling, “Who the fuck are you? What the fuck are you doing? What do you want?” She’s answered by a clean shot to the forehead, killing her instantly. My daughter and I will be dying soon and we know it. Regretful. Terrified. Resigned. We look out the window and silently wait.

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

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Cacozelia

Cacozelia (ka-ko-zeel’-i-a): 1. A stylistic affectation of diction, such as throwing in foreign words to appear learned. 2. Bad taste in words or selection of metaphor, either to make the facts appear worse or to disgust the auditors.

I felt the parameters of my television crumble when my streaming box went slo-mo into a pantheon of stretched words and images. It was like floating on a sea of hardening cement with a stingray protruding from my crusted trousers. My soul filibustered my body’s ganglia. My eyes started watering and I snapped back only to find my goldfish Karma 27 crushed on the floor, eyeballs protruding like black and grey glass balls

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

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Catachresis

Catachresis (kat-a-kree’-sis): The use of a word in a context that differs from its proper application. This figure is generally considered a vice; however, Quintilian defends its use as a way by which one adapts existing terms to applications where a proper term does not exist.

My heart is ruptured with happiness!

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

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Catacosmesis

Catacosmesis (kat-a-kos-mees’-is): Ordering words from greatest to least in dignity, or in correct order of time.

There was a president. There was a con artist. There were one million lies. There was a filthy pig. All the same person–the poor character, the bad genes, the twisted upbringing–all the same: evil. Evil in the morning. Evil in the afternoon. Evil all night long.

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

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

Cataphasis

Cataphasis (kat-af’-a-sis): A kind of paralipsis in which one explicitly affirms the negative qualities that one then passes over.

The “2005 Pussy Grabber” wasn’t the name of Trump’s car. Rather, he proudly proclaimed in a taped interview that “grabbing pussy” was a celebrity pastime, like golf or dining out at fancy restaurants: “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. . . . Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Somehow we all forgot about this disgusting descent into Trump’s concept of what women like. Well, we’re not going to forget about it, but today I want to talk about how unhinged he is and the trepidations we all have over what he’s going to do next and how it will affect the well-being of us all–not just Americans, but the entire world. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, he continues to do nothing. We have no national plan and people are once again dying in increasing numbers. 

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

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Cataplexis

Cataplexis (kat-a-pleex’-is): Threatening or prophesying payback for ill doing.

So many people have died in this pandemic due to your craziness and inability to understand or believe scientific evidence.

Once your death-cult is voted out of office, my organization will bring criminal charges against you, your family and your enablers; especially Shaun Hannity and Tucker Carleson: two news-ghouls who helped prop you up and spread your delusions with their lies.

Soon, the axe will fall. In the meantime, keep your head about you. Ha! Ha! Ha!

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

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Charientismus

Charientismus (kar-i-en-tia’-mus): Mollifying harsh words by answering them with a smooth and appeasing mock.

You anarchist destroyer of democracy.

Ha ha! I don’t need to be an anarchist to destroy democracy: you’re a Republican and you’re doing a great job already.

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

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Chiasmus

Chiasmus (ki-az’-mus): 1. Repetition of ideas in inverted order.  2. Repetition of grammatical structures in inverted order (not to be mistaken with antimetabole, in which identical words are repeated and inverted).

I gave my life to my stamp collecting club. To my stamp collecting club I gave my life! My life dammnit!  Sitting for hours with a magnifying glass. Traveling great distances to meet with buyers and sellers. And then!

I am dumpster diving with my daughter on a hot June afternoon. We’re at the local college where the students have just left for the academic year. Each dorm has its own dumpster and the students toss a lot of good stuff–lamps, ball gowns, candy, even a wristwatch! But this year is special. My daughter retrieves what looks like a scrapbook. Whoa! Its a stamp collection. I page through it. All but one stamp is garbage–no value, as rare as the air we breathe. The one stamp that’s not total crap is almost a one-of-a-kind stamp: a stamp commemorating the invention of the yo-yo in 1210 BCE by Zeus Phallusidides, a Greek baklava merchant living in Sparta and supplying the Spartan government with tons of baklava for the naked army and also local peasants. He invented the yo-yo to distract his customers while his co-conspiritor Calliope Thermidor picked the customers’ purses.

Now, I had the stamp! It was worth at least $1,000,000.00. Climbing out of the dumpster, I tripped and fell in a puddle. I put my hand out to stop the fall and the stamp fell in the puddle. The puddle turned red–my hand was bleeding. We looked for the stamp for two hours, siphoning all the water from the puddle. No stamp. All we could find was a soggy fragment of baklava inscribed with a yo-yo.

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

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