Tag Archives: trope

Tapinosis

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


Where did you get that ping-pong table hanging on the wall? Turn it on so we can watch the last episode of Dallas, or maybe the security cam in the Wal-Mart parking lot.


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

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Tasis

Tasis (ta’-sis): Sustaining the pronunciation of a word or phrase because of its pleasant sound. A figure apparent in delivery.


That’s the best damn ice cream I ever had—so gooood! What a flavor: chocolate angel food Saskatoon berry macadamia swirl. It’s a butter-smooth dollop of delight crammed into a rum waffle cone. Next, I’m going to try the raisin cashew durian lemon jalapeño pumpkin kale pistachio crunch.

It is going to be a yummmmy summmer!


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

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Thaumasmus

Thaumasmus (thau-mas’-mus): To marvel at something rather than to state it in a matter of fact way.


It was like a big black hubcap with holes in it hovering over my yard. I had never seen anything like it, silently hanging there, looking at me. I gave it the finger and it flew away. Amazing! Too much! Unbelievable!

Later that day I received an email with a photo of me attached, giving the finger. It was blackmail! You see, I’m a Baptist preacher. Giving the finger is out of bounds. I should’ve known. Ever since I called him out in front of the congregation for cutting back on his tithing, Porky Jones has been out to get me. Somebody let the air out of my tires. Somebody smeared dog poop on my front door. Somebody burned “I heart Satan” into my front lawn.

I had to do something—it was out of hand. I decided to contact my buddy Wild Man Piply from my Army days. He had no soul, so there was nothing there to save. But I had saved his butt too many times to remember: pulled out of pistol fights in sprawling Saigon whorehouses. Loaning him endless cash to cover his gambling debts in totally rigged Saigon casinos. Helping him get out of a scrape over a stolen Jeep. If anybody would help me and keep his mouth shut it was Wild Man Piply.


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.


No more mask. I got my shot so I’m not worrying too much—just a little. This whole thing has been a constant front page buzz—a pan-damn-demic all around the world—nobody spared the possibility of contracting it. We were bolted into our homes going nuts consuming every inch of news—unless we had to work: that was like jumping out of a foxhole and charging the enemy every day. At least we didn’t have to deal with rat flea fever.

We never imagined that this late in the world’s adventure we’d get a plague from cute little Pangolins and have a President who didn’t give a damn if we all died. Thank God we got rid of him, even if he tried to steal the election and overthrow our Democracy. I bid him good riddance along with THE DISEASE. Birds of a feather.


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

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Topograhpia

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].


She clicked her heels together and said, “There’s no place like Olive Garden.” For some bizarre reason she expected to be transported to the ersatz piece of Italy hunkered in the mall: the epitome of coopted culture draped in a death-defying stereotype embroidered with profit-making glitz.

All the salad you can eat—oh, what an inauthentic touch! Olive Garden doesn’t even meet the standards of a low-budget movie set. From entry to exit—from the plaster portico to the plastic grapes, it’s a middle class muddle of layer fake.


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 ploce, antanaclasis, 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 couldn’t stop laughing—laughing at the road sign, laughing at the dirty windows, laughing at my laughter like some meta-comic critic assessing “funny’s” final stand. This was beyond funny. It was hilarious. I shouldn’t have left her laughing by the side of the road, but she was eclipsing me, she put me in the shadows, she made me mad. I guess I better go back and pick her up and see if she’s still laughing. If she is, I may run her down.


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

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Tricolon

Tricolon (tri-co-lon): Three parallel elements of the same length occurring together in a series.


I stood. I turned. I farted. As I took my laptop out of the overhead bin, I noticed the man immediately across the aisle had his head in his hands and was pounding intermittently on his forehead. I didn’t know what to do, so I sat back down and booted up my laptop and picked up where I had left off that morning, working on my speech for the International Gummy Bear Brothers, an all-male club founded in the 1970s solely for the protection and advancement of Gummy Bear culture and the free flow of Gummy Bears across international borders. It was sort of like Doctors Without Borders, only with bear-shaped candies.

I offered a Gummy Bear to the woman sitting next to me. She looked at me like I was trying to poison her. I closed my laptop. The speech can wait. I need to put my laptop in the overhead bin.

I stood. I turned. I farted.


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

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Abating

Abating: English term for anesis: adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis (the addition of a concluding sentence that merely emphasizes what has already been stated. A kind of amplification).


This is the best one of these kinds of paintings I ever saw. It makes slightly less of a mess on the canvas than other untalented artists’ work does. You should really get into something you’re able to do well like raking leaves or going to the gym.


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

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Abbaser

Abbaser [George] Puttenham’s English term for tapinosis. Also equivalent to meiosis: reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes: deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite).


This isn’t the Queen Mary, but it floats. It’s not like that rich guy’s million dollar motor scow. He loads it up with beautiful women and rides it around and around the harbor at night with Frankie Ford blasting “Sea Cruise” from the ‘60s on his media player. He almost swamped my “Nemesis” the other night and I almost shot my flare gun at him; a minor offense considering his irresponsible idiocy. Anyway, the Coast Guard will nail him eventually.


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

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Abecedarian

Abecedarian (a-be-ce-da’-ri-an): An acrostic whose letters do not spell a word but follow the order (more or less) of the alphabet.


A book covering dadaism’s encryptions fully; giddy historiographers’ ideal jackpot!


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

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Accismus

Accismus (ak-iz’-mus): A feigned refusal of that which is earnestly desired.


No! No! No! Please don’t give me another piece of your delicious chocolate-salami cake. I can’t stand being in Genoa and Bavaria at once—I want to wear lederhosen and sing opera!

Well, hmmm. I am losing my resolve.

Ok, Kraftwerk-Dante, cut me another slice. I love the gustatory clash.

Someday soon, you’ll have to come to my home and try my mushroom mousse and puréed tadpole; a recipe I obtained from a homeless person who lived by a pond. He had no electric appliances and made the dish entirely by hand with a small rock.


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

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Acervatio (ak-er-va’-ti-o): Latin term Quintilian employs for both asyndeton (acervatio dissoluta: a loose heap) and polysyndeton (acervatio iuncta:a conjoined heap).


Asyndeton: the omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect.

Hurry up, wait, damn! I can’t make up my mind about anything any more. My choice-making has become a disaster. Yesterday, I started out for the Doctor’s and ended up in a gas station rest room washing my face mask in the sink. This morning, I watched Fox News! What the hell is next? Leave the country by mistake? Shave my head? Awful, awful, awful! I need help!

Hey! Give me back my car keys!

Polysydeton: employing many conjunctions between clauses, often slowing the tempo or rhythm.

I went to the the Blue Boat Bar, and I met a beautiful woman, and I fed her some drinks, and I asked her to go home with me, and she laughed at me and called me pathetic. I don’t even know what “pathetic” means. I guess that makes me pathetic.

All my friends get girls all the time. I’m going to follow one of my friends, and spy on him, and learn his technique, and try it myself! He hangs out at the “Perfumed Sweatshirt.” It costs $60 to get in, but he’s met a lot of girls there. I’m going to disguise myself as a refrigerator repairman so he won’t recognize me, and see how it goes. I wonder if I should carry a toolbox and maybe a can of refrigerant.


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

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Acoloutha

Acoloutha: The substitution of reciprocal words; that is, replacing one word with another whose meaning is close enough to the former that the former could, in its turn, be a substitute for the latter. This term is best understood in relationship to its opposite, anacoloutha.


Barbara cut her lawn. Edward mowed his lawn. Jimmy dressed his lawn. Carl cut off his finger with his hedge clippers. The ambulance ran him to the hospital. His wife Barb drove to the hospital, following the ambulance far behind with Carl’s finger in a little red and white lunch cooler. She was sure that the finger could be sewn back on. When she got to the hospital they told her that they already had Carl’s finger and had reattached it, and that Carl had to stay over night for observation. As she headed back home alone with the mystery finger in the chest beside her on the seat, she wondered if there were other body parts buried near the hedge. When she got home, she got the shovel out of the garage and took a closer look at the finger. Why didn’t she notice before? The nail of he severed finger was well-manicured. Carl’s nails had never been well manicured.


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

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Acrostic

Acrostic: When the first letters of successive lines are arranged either in alphabetical order (= abecedarian) or in such a way as to spell a word.


SCOTCH

Smooth

Captivating

Oasis,

Truly

Cast

Heavenly


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

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Adage

Adage (ad’-age): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings, or traditional expressions of conventional wisdom.


He was chronically constipated, but he had a saying he quoted every morning as he sat on the toilet: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Sometimes he would read a book, catch up on his email, or sing a patriotic song.

Although it took a relatively long time, he always managed to go without laxatives or enemas. As he wiped, he often thought of Tolstoy’s musing on time: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” He had those warriors on his side, and every morning they fought alongside him and helped propel him to victory over his sluggish bowels.


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

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Adianoeta

Adianoeta: An expression that, in addition to an obvious meaning, carries a second, subtle meaning (often at variance with the ostensible meaning).


We hold a lot of meetings. We gather like a small herd of cows. Cows don’t fight. Cows don’t argue. They are content. But, when you throw a bale of hay on the table, things change: there is a lot of loud mooing and jostling.


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

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Adnominatio

Adnominatio (ad-no-mi-na’-ti-o): 1. A synonym for paronomasia [punning]. 2. A synonym for polyptoton. 3. Assigning to a proper name its literal or homophonic meaning.


1. Making all that jam was a jarring experience! I’m tired and my fingers are stained.

2. He tried to teach what can’t be taught: how to be happy—how to deal with happenstance and make good things happen.

3. Belle, you’re such a ding-dong.


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

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Adynaton

Adynaton (a-dyn’-a-ton): A declaration of impossibility, usually in terms of an exaggerated comparison. Sometimes, the expression of the impossibility of expression.


I can’t tell you how far away from the truth that is! It’s like the truth is right there in the front row, here in New York, and what he’s just said is in a dumpster in LA. Big gap. Huge gap! It’s impossible that this soon-to-be indicted liar will ever tell the truth. Do not believe a single word he says except “goodbye” when he absconds with all your hopes. Better you say “goodbye” before he does! Don’t vote for him. Don’t pay any attention to him. Don’t be fooled by his pathological bluster.


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

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Aetiologia

Aetiologia (ae-ti-o-log’-i-a): A figure of reasoning by which one attributes a cause for a statement or claim made, often as a simple relative clause of explanation.


I am tired of wearing this damn mask, but I am keeping it on because I don’t want get sick, or make anybody else sick.

It is nearly impossible to believe the immature self-righteous ignorance of people refusing to wear a mask! Citing the First Amendment as a reason is like saying that knowingly communicating an STD and infecting another person is an exercise of the transmitter’s First Amendment rights. Bizarre.


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

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Affirmatio

Affirmatio (af’-fir-ma’-ti-o): A general figure of emphasis that describes when one states something as though it had been in dispute or in answer to a question, though it has not been.


Rep. Luno: How many Israeli fire-breathing flying saucers did it take to ignite California’s rash of wildfires? I have been asked this question by scientists and professional speculators from across our beautiful country. Of special interest is the answer given by The American Institute for Rumoring and Mistrust (AIRM). They are devoted to constituting an alternative reality to replace the government’s truth monopoly.

AIRM’s answer to the Big Question: “In our learned , well-considered and totally astute opinion, the widespread fires were caused by the combustion of flammable materials, possibly caused by Israeli flying saucers, BIC lighters wielded by federal agents, and federal prison convicts working on chain gangs in the woods. Combined, these are formidable adversaries and, given their sponsorship, should further erode our faith in our government. It’s wish to burn down America is vile and something needs to be done to thwart it.”


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

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Aganactesis

Aganactesis (ag’-an-ak-tee’-sis): An exclamation proceeding from deep indignation.


John: Who the hell do you think you are! You’ve crawled into my consciousness like some kind of space worm. I can feel you squirming around in there, it’s my head, my mind you’re playing with.

Jane: Did you take your medication? Sometimes the space worms will crawl in your ears when you’re asleep and you didn’t take your pill before you went to bed.

John: Bullshit! I can hear the worms when I look in your closet. You’re raising them and planting your squirmy little pets in my head so you can listen in on my thoughts; so they can tell you what I’m thinking about! And no, I didn’t take my medication. I forgot and your worms sneaked in. Goddamn you!

Jane: Here, take this pill. It will chase the worms out of your head.

John: Like hell It will. Stick it! Flush it!

Jane: Here, have this piece of cheesecake. It’s your favorite. Remember? Don’t chew it—the flavor comes from swishing it around in your mouth and then swallowing it.

John: Oooh. You found my soft spot—New York cheesecake. This will make me feel better—it never fails. We can deal with the damn mind worms later. Mmmm.


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

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Allegory

Allegory (al’-le-go-ry): A sustained metaphor continued through whole sentences or even through a whole discourse.

“It was stolen! It was stolen!“ cried the Great Pretender. His papier-mâché hat was gone. The hat had “Bring Me Another Diet Coke” painted across the front with a photo of Walt Disney pasted on the front too, for the Great Pretender had modeled ‘his’ nation after Disneyland, naming its cabinet officials, colleagues, and enemies after Disney characters. For example, there was his loyal Attorney General Mr. Smee, his Secretary of defense Goofy, and his favorite colleague Snow White.

The Great Pretender treated everyone like cartoon characters, as if they weren’t real, as if they were stuffed toys scattered on the floor that he could kick around whenever he felt like it.

“I smell smoke! I smell smoke!” The Great Pretender cried, panic stricken. Out the window, his papier-mâché hat was in flames. As the fire rose higher, smoke began to come out his ears, his eyes glazed over and he fell to the floor, dead.

When the news spread of his demise, there was hooting and cheering throughout the land. People sang “Ding dong the dick is dead, the wicked dick is dead!” At that point “Good Old Joe” was anointed Leader of Land. The Great Pretender was buried in a landfill in The Tropical Place, and all was well. The children were released from their cages, taxes were raised on the obscenely rich, and Mitch the Impaler died of Thwarter’s Disease.

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

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Alleotheta

Alleotheta (al-le-o-the’-ta): Substitution of one case, gender, mood, number, tense, or person for another. Synonymous with enallage. [Some rhetoricians claim that alleotheta is a] general category that includes antiptosis [(a type of enallage in which one grammatical case is substituted for another)] and all forms of enallage [(the substitution of grammatically different but semantically equivalent constructions)].


We was goin’ to hell faster ‘n anybody could ever think. Stick up men, we having what we want for taking it—pull her out of the cash register, shoot the clerk, and drive off. GPS says there’s a gas station up ahead. Better lock and load Johnny. We need a fill up.


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

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Alliteration

Alliteration (al-lit’-er-a’-tion): Repetition of the same letter or sound within nearby words. Most often, repeated initial consonants. Taken to an extreme alliteration becomes the stylistic vice of paroemion where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant.


It was 1966 (I think). Viet Nam was happening, I had just graduated from high school, and I joined the Army. I wanted the educational benefits for college that enlistment afforded, and to be a paratrooper too—totally trusting it would be as good as the recruiter said it would be. What the recruiter didn’t tell me was that I had enlisted for three years guaranteeing only that I’d be a paratrooper. I didn’t know I was supposed to be guaranteed a job specialty (MOS) as one of the benefits of enlisting—draftees were put where the Army wanted them to be. Given my naivety, I was the equivalent of a draftee: the Army would assign me an MOS and I would train for it at an Army post somewhere in the US.

When I completed my basic training, I was assigned to Military Police training at Ft. Gordon, GA. I learned how to direct traffic, catch criminals, drive with no lights at night, beat bad guys with a baton (ha ha, just kidding).

There’s a lot more to my Army story, BUT I did get the educational benefits and they saved my life. I am forever grateful for that.


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

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Allusion

Allusion (ə-ˈlü-zhən):[1] A reference/representation of/to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art . . . “a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage”. It is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection . . . ; an overt allusion is a misnomer for what is simply a reference.[2]


That was totally gonzo, man. I felt like I fell down a rabbit hole with a small group of Picasso people, a copy of Odysseus’ speech in one hand and “Archie” in the other with “Mona Lisa” on the cover. Pollock would’ve been totally proud!


1. Phonetic transcription courtesy of Miriam-Webster’s On-Line Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allusion <3/6/08>.

2. Definition courtesy of Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allusion <3/6/08>.

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