Tag Archives: tropes


Hendiadys (hen-di’-a-dis): Expressing a single idea by two nouns [joined by a conjunction] instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force.

I’m lonely and mad. I wish I could have a bunch of friends and pals. I guess I need to deal with my anger before I will have a bunch of friends and pals–or maybe having a bunch of friends and pals would make my anger go away–damn and double-damn: I’m stuck and frustrated!

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


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

News Reporter: Some people believe that having Steve Bannon on your staff is a sign of your tacit support for his his “alt-right” politics which have been characterized as a sort of white-supremacist nationalism. Given that, and recent events in Virginia, are you considering terminating him?

Donald: I have a “right” (he ha) to appoint–where would I be if every appointment in my administration had to be vetted and approved? I’d be alone up here and the government would come to a standstill!

Now, somebody ask me a question really worth answering.

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.

Time’s prisoners we are.

Time is a wicked spirit disfiguring transcendence–the soul of truth. Time keeps us from experiencing the tranquility of permanence and the sublimity of the void.

What good is time beyond measuring its progress toward its end?

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


Hypozeuxis  (hyp-o-zook’-sis): Opposite of zeugma. Every clause has its own verb.

I arrived at the grocery store. It was around 4.00pm. The vegetables were in the process of being misted. I wondered why eggplants needed misting. Well, I guess the person who tends the vegetables knows the answer. So I asked: “Why do you mist the eggplants?”

“The quick answer is they are related to tomatoes. I know that’s not a very good answer, but nobody would ever question the propriety of misting tomatoes.”

“I would” said the man standing behind me wearing a Burpee Seed hat and dirty overhauls.

“Uh oh” I thought to myself, there’s going to be some kind of misting showdown in the produce section!

I grabbed an eggplant and took off for the seafood section before something regretful happened.

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 too far beyond my comfort zone, under the frosty ocean water. I could feel the water pressure on my ears. It was hard to breathe through the breathing equipment. It was nearly dark. The current was strong. The seaweed was thick–twisted waving dark brown vines growing up from the seabed.

This was my first dive but my friend Edward had assured me I would be ok–but I wasn’t ok. Where is Edward? Where is Edward?

I’ve got to get out of here!

My instincts tell me to swim toward the light, but Edward had said something about the “bends”–something about rising to the surface too quickly.

Where is Edward? Where the hell is Edward?

I begin swimming slowly toward the surface (although I’m not sure what “slowly” means in this context).

I’ll take the risk that “slow is slow” and when I see Edward on the surface, I think I will register my anger and disappointment with a suitably violent act–an act of physical violence–perhaps a punch or a kick.

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.)

I woke up before I had gone to sleep.  You may think “Waking up” before sleeping is a metaphor–it isn’t. Ever since I started reading “Gone with the Explanation: Your Life is an Ass-Backward Mess” my life has gone awry–I am full before I eat, I wear my pajamas to work, I walk backwards to the park where I hold onto my dog’s ball–I can only catch it & that only happens once because I only have one chance to throw it to little velcro. Poor little Velcro.

Tonight, I begin my dinner with desert and end by putting my napkin in my lap and taking a sip of water.

I never knew a cheap paperback could have such an affect on a person’s life. I should’ve left it in the bin where I found it. I’m reading it back to front. I don’t understanding any of it, but soon I will be free from its diabolical grasp–5 pages to go! Pray for me!

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].

It is beyond belief that you’d actually consider attacking North Korea.

Ever since you’ve been President, I thought you’ve been kind of stupid, but your stupidity did not endanger the existence of the planet!

I can’t believe you’d actually blow us all up. Tell us it isn’t true! You’re just bluffing, right? If you’re not bluffing, I think you need to start looking for a new job–Leader of the Free World is beyond your capabilities.

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 are a great negotiator, but as far as I can see after more than six months in office you have yet to “negotiate” anything. If you call jamming executive orders down peoples’ throats “negotiation” you’d probably call aiming a loaded gun at an unarmed person and demanding their agreement some kind of negotiation. Is that true?

People negotiate together–it is not a one-way street that only goes your way.

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


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

You know, avoiding bathing for too long can give a person fairly intense body odor.

When was the last time you took a shower?

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.

He cheated. He lied. He protested. He appealed. He lost. He left. Thank God.

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.

I guess it’s hard to call it “secret wickedness.” Everybody knows that you are a liar.  You’ve told so many lies since you’ve been elected President that here may not be enough room in the history books for recounting them. From Australia to Russia, you’ve lied. From Mexico to Sweden, you’ve lied.  From nearly any Point A to any Point B on the map, you’ve lied.

What’s the point of all the lying? You haven’t gotten away with a single lie yet!

Try the truth and see what happens! Jail time? Massive fine? Impeachment?

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 he funniest person in the world, and I haven’t earned millions in Las Vegas. But, I can make you laugh so hard you’ll wet your pants. Are you ready?

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


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

See this tattoo?

I got it when I turned 18. It didn’t hurt and the colors have lasted beautifully for 10 years: good old Sponge Bob. Now that I’m 40, he’s better than ever! I keep it covered at work, but other than that, Bob’s free to see the light of day.

If you get the right image, a tattoo tells a story and is good to look at too!

I think you should get one. You like layer cake–a layer cake with pink frosting would be cool!

Go for it! Take my word for it–you’ll be happy you did.

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.

That so-called “Presidential Executive Office” is looking more and more like a “Used Car Sales Office” that’s failing to meet its quota. 

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


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

You told us we would get some “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. You’ve given us nothing. Come on–surely you have something! Please! I know you’ve got to have something.*

*This is fake news–purely fictional. Never happened.

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


Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

The Trump Administration is divided into four uneven parts: family, friends, business associates, and lies. “Lies” almost accounts for all of the Administration’s total size.

Trump’s latest lie: “I don’t wear underpants.” Definite lie–you can see the elastic waistband sticking out of his pants. One can only speculate as to why he would lie about wearing underpants. We think it may be because Putin does not wear underpants–this is a verified fact. Given the esteem that Trump holds Putin in, we can easily see why he would lie about his own underpants.  The question is, though, “Why lie about your underpants when you can just pull them off and ‘go commando’ (like Putin) for real?” We’ll have to ask this question at the next press briefing. We’re sure Kommander Huckabee will answer right up! That is, there’s got to be a good policy driven answer to the underpants question & we’ll find it! It will be a snap (ha ha)

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


Mesarchia (mes-ar’-chi-a): The repetition of the same word or words at the beginning and middle of successive sentences.

I was looking for a piece of paper. I was anxious for a piece to write on. I was in need of a piece to start my butterfly census project. I would be counting the Monarchs, Yellow Swallowtails and Black Swallowtails. For one week, I would go out every day at 2.00p.m. and track them.

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


Metabasis (me-ta’-ba-sis): A transitional statement in which one explains what has been and what will be said.

Now that we’ve had a chance to explain what collusion is, let’s take a look at  recent examples from news headlines reporting the Trump family’s meetings with Russians and see if they fit the definition of “collusion.”

There are so many examples! Let’s focus on one: Donald Trump was observed whispering in Vladimir Putin’s ear at the Molotow nightclub in Hamburg, Germany. Now, as far as collusion goes, the means are present: a ‘secret’ message for Putin’s ear only. The problem is, we don’t know the content of the the message. Even though they immediately got up and danced, there’s no telling the sum total of Trump’s message to Putin.  Accordingly, we must rule out the “Molotow Communique” as a instance of collusion, aside from the resultant dancing, which is, I guess, a form of ‘soft’ collusion.

Ok, let’s take a look at the second example . . .

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


Metalepsis (me-ta-lep’-sis): Reference to something by means of another thing that is remotely related to it, either through a farfetched causal relationship, or through an implied intermediate substitution of terms. Often used for comic effect through its preposterous exaggeration. A metonymical substitution of one word for another which is itself figurative.

Your imagination is an empty stretcher in an ambulance headed to Duncan Donuts.  Your dream is to fill the stretcher with strawberry frosted donuts, and wrestle playfully with Mike Pence and Vladimir Putin on the stretcher as they squat inside your head, clutching donuts and growling and smiling at you, who, as a matter of fact are holding a Nutella filled sugar donut in each hand.


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

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


Metaphor (met’-a-phor): A comparison made by referring to one thing as another.

President Trump is a strip of duct tape holding together a small empty cardboard box.

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


Metastasis (me-tas’-ta-sis): Denying and turning back on your adversaries arguments used against you.

You say I lied about colluding with my dentist. Well, let me tell you: you wouldn’t have these ideas unless you had something to do with it. That goes for the Russians too!! You’re the one who’s done the colluding & that’s a fact. Just ask Putin–he’ll tell the truth.

Remember: I’m the President and Presidents don’t lie.

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


Metonymy (me-ton’-y-my): Reference to something or someone by naming one of its attributes. [This may include effects or any of the four Aristotelian causes {efficient/maker/inventor, material, formal/shape, final/purpose}.]

President hair wad seemed lost at the G20 summit.

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


Ominatio (o-mi-na’-ti-o): A prophecy of evil.

Oh Korea of the North! Hear me, for I am the Prophet Pence!

Your meddling with atoms can only lead to infinite woe. Your bold, yet reckless, experiments with world-crossing rockets will cause great anger and prompt many long-winded diatribes from your many enemies. So, I say unto you, put your Won into feeding your people or I prophesy an angry wind will blow across your Korea of the North and turn your shining missiles into giant cardboard toys.

Hear me that ye may forewarned! I am the Prophet Pence and I can see into the future.

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


Onedismus (on-e-dis’-mus): Reproaching someone for being impious or ungrateful.

I gave you more than half of our peanuts. You just gobble them up. You don’t even look at me. You just keep stuffing them into your mouth. 

Can’t you at least say “Thank-you”? I would appreciate it. If you don’t   thank me I’m going home to my mother. She would thank me.

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


Onomatopoeia (on-o-mat-o-pee’-a): Using or inventing a word whose sound imitates that which it names (the union of phonetics and semantics).

My heart went boom, boom, boom. Then it went squish, squish, squish as they gave me CPR. My marathon-running days are over forever! I’ll have to be content with fast walking around the mall or the supermarket.

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