"Somewhere at this very moment a child is
being born in America. Let it be our cause
to give that child a happy home, a healthy
family, and a hopeful future."
-- Bill Clinton, 1992 Democratic National
Convention Acceptance Address
Repeating the ﬁrst word
With malice toward none;
with charity for all;
with ﬁrmness in the right,...
— Abraham Lincoln, Second
Repeating the last part and the ﬁrst part
"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense
much fear in you."
(Yoda in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menance)
Repeating the last word
"Don't you ever talk about my friends!
You don't know any of my friends. You
don't look at any of my friends. And you
certainly wouldn't condescend to speak to
any of my friends."
(Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club)
Three words in a row:
Words, words, words!
More Conjunctions/No Conjunctions
"He was a bag of bones, a ﬂoppy doll, a broken stick, a
(Jack Kerouac, On the Road, 1957)
"[I]t is respectable to have no illusions--and safe--and
(Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, 1900)
Repeating the ﬁrst and last words
"Much of what I say might sound bitter, but it's the
truth. Much of what I say might sound like it's stirring
up trouble, but it's the truth. Much of what I say might
sound like it is hate, but it's the truth."
-- Malcolm X
"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that
my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it
should be stiﬂed by dryrot. I would rather be a superb
meteor, every atom of me in magniﬁcent glow, than a
sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of
man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in
trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
Changing the Name
When you’re talking about rock ‘n roll, everything
begins with The King.
Clusters of verbs following one subject
"Swallows dart, dip, dive, swiftly pluck perching
insects from slow moving current."
(Robert Watts Handy, River Raft Pack of Weeping
Water Flat. Writer's Showcase, 2001)
Items in a series are equal in length and form
"Nothing that's beautiful hides its face.
Nothing that's honest hides its name."
(Orual in Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S.
Lewis. Geoffrey Bles, 1956)
"I have a mind to join a club and beat you over the head
Three items in a series
"You are talking to a man who has laughed in the face
of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at
(The Wizard in The Wizard of Oz, 1939)
Three items in a series
"I require three things in a man. He must be handsome,
ruthless, and stupid."
The Yoking Figure--literal and ﬁgurative
Your phone is off the hook, but you're not.
The Yoking Figure--literal and ﬁgurative
My teeth and ambitions are bared; be
prepared! - Scar, from The Lion King
Real or pretended uncertainty
“Well, Mrs. Jones, I know there must be a simple
explanation, but what I don’t understand is how you
said you were home alone and had no visitors all day
but the radiator of your car was still hot when I got here
at 3 PM today. I’m sure you can explain that and there’s
just one more thing, Mrs. Jones . . . .”.
Digressing or Evading
You’ve asked me to elaborate on my health care policy,
and I will. These questions are good questions and our
face-to-face engagement of these pressing issues is one
of the best ways to sort out our differences and provide
people with a clear-cut avenue of choice. Making
choices and . .(continues until audience falls asleep)
Pretending to be unable to speak
"Almira Gulch, just because you own half the county
doesn't mean that you have the power to run the rest of
us. For 23 years I've been dying to tell you what I
thought of you! And now--well, being a Christian
woman, I can't say it!"
(Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz, 1939)
"I had a teacher I liked who used to say good ﬁction's
job was to comfort the disturbed and
disturb the comfortable."
(David Foster Wallace)
Inserting words inside other words
"I don't like tmesis; it's abso-bloody-lutely ri-ﬂipping-
Your argument is ridiculous
"Then there's the disease excuse.
"It goes like this: Drug addiction is a disease, so society has
no right to punish addicts for their illness. Well, this kind of
ridiculous argument makes me ill. We need to stop feeling
sorry for people who careen out control, and begin to
impose sanctions on them."
At least one part of your argument has merit
"It has been said that Rowcliff is handsome, and I'll
concede that his six feet of meat is distributed well enough,
but his face reminds me of a camel with a built-in sneer."
(Rex Stout, Please Pass the Guilt, 1973)
The listing or detailing of the parts
Kramer: "Who's gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It's
chocolate; it's peppermint; it's delicious."
Seinfeld: "That's true."
Kramer: "It's very refreshing!"
Offering a deﬁnition often by making a distinction
between two things
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the
right things.” -- Peter Drucker
Changing your mind (or pretending to) in the middle of
Fido was the friendliest of all St. Bernards, nay of all dogs.
Fido was the friendliest dog in the world, or at least in my
Was it not Socrates who said the unexamined life is not
Directly speaking to a person or ﬁgure
Hello, Darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with
--Simon and Garfunkle
argumentum ad populum
Arguing that popularity is
on your side
Flattering your audience
Can I say how lovely this audience looks
this evening? Give yourselves a hand! You
Rhetorical questions designed to hurt
"Let us not assassinate this lad further,
Senator. You have done enough. Have you
no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have
you left no sense of decency?"
(Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph
McCarthy, June 9, 1954)
"Let's pass swiftly over the vicar's predilection for
cream cakes. Let's not dwell on his fetish for Dolly
Mixture. Let's not even mention his rapidly increasing
girth. No, no--let us instead turn directly to his recent
work on self-control and abstinence."
(Tom Coates, Plasticbag.org, Apr. 5, 2003)
An idea is a feat of
association, and the
height of it is a good
"Cigarettes are like
harmless until you
put one in your
mouth and light it"
Argument is a
She shot down
He won the argument
were right on
The math club withered after
We need to let
sprouted up all
Life is a Journey
Democrats = Mom
Republicans = Dad
Tax Cuts vs.Tax Relief
Inheritance Tax vs. Death Tax
Undocumented Workers vs. Illegal
Drilling for oil vs. Exploring for
The Right to...
Appeals to Emotion
If you don’t graduate from high school, you
will end up a ditchdigger.
Appeals to pity
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, look at
this miserable man, in a wheelchair, unable to
use his legs. Could such a man really be
guilty of embezzlement?"
Appeal to ridicule
Oh sure! Of course, evolution makes sense!
It’s perfectly obvious that people are related
"Free will must exist: if it didn't, we would all
Appeal to ﬂattery
Honors students such as yourselves are too
smart to be fooled by companies like Jostens
that try to sell you ovepriced junk.
Appeal to spite
"Stop recycling! Aren't you tired of
Hollywood celebrities preaching to
everyone about saving the Earth?"