A figure of speech is a change from the ordinary manner of expression, usingwords in other than their literal sense to enhance the way a thought is expressed. The following are the more common figures of Speech you can use to achieve someinteresting "effects" in your writing:Alliteration: the same sound is repeated noticeably at the beginning of words placedclose together Examples-- "World Wide Web" "Find four furry foxes" Recommendation: Use alliteration sparingly. Too much can wear on the reader. Back to TopAllusion: casual reference to a famous historical or literary figure or event. e.g., " . . . a turn of phrase even Shakespeare would appreciate." Back to TopApostrophe: direct address of an absent or dead person or personified thing. Invocation: an apostrophe to a god or muse. Examples-- "God help me!" "Ambition, youre a cruel master!" Back to Top
Irony: using words to mean the opposite of what is said. Sarcasm: cutting, sneering or taunting irony. Examples-- "Hes handsome if you like rodents." Hyperbole: exaggeration not meant to be taken literally. Examples-- "I waited forever for him." "I destroyed that test!" "The world ended the day my father died." Understatement: the representation of something as significantly less than it actually is. e.g. "That was some sprinkle." (in reference to the four inches of rain which fell an hour before) Back to TopMetaphor: an implied comparison between things, events, or actions which arefundamentally unlike. Metonymy: substituting a word--which is suggested by it or which is closely associated with it--for another word Examples-- "He hit the bottle soon after his wife died." "She counted heads."
"The White House denied the allegations." Synecdoche: using a part for the whole or the whole for a part e.g. "The pen is mightier than the sword" Personification: representing a thing, quality, or idea as a person Examples-- "The book just begged to be read." "The ocean screamed its fury" "Fear lived with us in Vietnam." Recommendations: o The comparison should be more evocative and appealing than the literal, plain statement of the thought. o Use sparingly. Too much of this and you call attention to yourself as the author instead of leaving your reader immersed in your story Back to TopOnomatopoeia: using words to imitate the sound they represent Examples-- "I heard the hiss of steam down in the access tunnel." "The clock in the living room cuckooed the hour." "The clang of the cymbals echoed across the square." Back to TopParallelism (aka "Balance"): Expressing two ideas of equal importance through similarphrasing. Antithesis: parallelism in grammatical pattern but strong contrast in meaning.
Examples-- "Give me liberty or give me death!" "That isnt the truth, its a lie." "You seem so wise, yet how foolish you are." Recommendation: Dont use too much of this; it can easily wear on the reader.Paradox: a statement that seems self-contradictory. The effect of this is to joltthe reader into paying attention. Examples-- "He who loses his life for My sake will save it." "One day is sometimes better than a whole year."Oxymoron: a paradoxical statement in which two contradictory terms or wordsare brought together. Examples-- "The quiet was deafening." "He was clearly misunderstood." "They were alone together."Anaphora: repetition of the same word or words at the beginning or successiveclauses, verses, or sentences, e.g., "He came as conqueror. He came as ally. He came as a stranger. He came as brother."
Climax: The arrangement of a series of ideas or events in ascending order of importance, interest, or effectiveness. Stresses the relative importance of ideas or events. Anticlimax: the use of climax up to the end of a series of thoughts and then the insertion of some unimportant idea in the last, most important position. Useful in humorous writing. Back to TopSimile: an explicit comparison between things, events, or actions which arefundamentally unlike. . Typically involves the words "like" or "as" Examples: "His arguments withered like grapevines in the fall." "He was cold as an arctic wind." "Crooked as a dogs hind leg." "Casual dress, like casual speech, tends to be loose, relaxed and colorful"
1.Synecdocheis a figure of speech in which a part is used to represent thewhole (for example, ABCs for alphabet) or the whole for a part("England won the World Cup in 1966").Synecdoche is often treated as a type of metonymy.Ex.A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor), thewhole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general(as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), orthe material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).A part referring to the whole Referring to people according to a single characteristic: "the gray beard" for an older man or "the long hair" for a hippie Describing a complete vehicle as "wheels" Calling a worker "a pair of hands" All "hands" on deckA whole thing referring to a part of it"The city posted a sign", which means that an employee of the localgovernment (but not the geographic location or all of its residents) posted asignA general class name used to denote a specific member of that or anassociated class "truck" for any four-wheel drive vehicle (as well as long-haul trailers, etc.) Hes good people. [Here, the word "people" is used to denote a specific instance of people, i.e. a person. So the sentence would be interpreted as "Hes a good person.")A specific class name used to refer to a general set of associated things "John Hancock" for the signature of any person "bug" for any kind of insect or spider, even if it is not a true bug a genericized trademark, for example "Coke" for any variety of colaThe material that a thing is made of referring to that thing"steel" for a sword"willow" for a cricket bat or "pigskin" for an American or Canadian football"plastic" for credit cards"lead" for bullets"silver" for flatware or other dishes that were once made of silver metal"rubber" for a condom
2.metaphor: changing a word from its literal meaning to one not properlyapplicable but analogous to it; assertion of identity rather than, as withsimile, likeness. Ex.Between the lower east side tenements the sky is a snotty handkerchief." (Marge Piercy, "The Butt of Winter") "The streets were a furnace, the sun an executioner." (Cynthia Ozick, "Rosa") "But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill." (William Sharp, "The Lonely Hunter") "I can mingle with the stars, and throw a party on Mars; I am a prisoner locked up behind Xanax bars." (Lil Wayne, "I Feel Like Dying") "Love is an alchemist that can transmute poison into food--and a spaniel that prefers even punishment from one hand to caresses from another." (Charles Colton, Lacon) "Mens words are bullets, that their enemies take up and make use of against them." (George Savile, Maxims) "A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind." (William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors) "The rain came down in long knitting needles." (Enid Bagnold, National Velvet)
"Language is a road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going." (Rita Mae Brown) "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." (Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, 1863) Lenny: Hey, maybe there is no cabin. Maybe its one of them metaphorical things. Carl: Oh yeah, yeah. Like maybe the cabin is the place inside each of us, created by our goodwill and teamwork. Lenny: Nah, they said there would be sandwiches. (The Simpsons) "Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food." (Austin OMalley, Keystones of Thought) "Ice formed on the butlers upper slopes." (P.G. Wodehouse, The Color of the Woosters, 1938) "Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations." (Faith Baldwin, Face Toward the Spring, 1956)*"But silk has nothing to do with tobacco. It’s a metaphor, a metaphor thatmeans something like, smooth as silk. Somebody in an advertising agencydreamt up the name Silk Cut to suggest a cigarette that wouldn’t give youa sore throat or a hacking cough or lung cancer."(David Lodge, Nice Work. Viking, 1988)
"From its Dutch beginnings in the 17th century, New York was distinguished among the European colonies by its diversity. Conceptually, the melting pot as a metaphor for mixing disparate cultures can be traced at least as far back as 1782 to a naturalized New Yorker from France . . . later to DeWitt Clinton and Ralph Waldo Emerson." (Sam Roberts, "The Melting Metaphor." Only in New York. St. Martins, 2009)3.Metonymy: substitution of cause for effect, proper name for one of itsqualities, etc.Metonymy He is a man of cloth, which means he belongs to a religious order. He writes with a fine hand, means he has a good handwriting. We have always remained loyal to the crown, that means the people are loyal to the king or the ruler of their country. The pen is mightier than the sword refers that the power of literary works is greater than military force. The House was called to order, refers to the members of the House.Some More Metonymy Examples An institution - members or leaders (like in the Army or Red Cross) A committee or a board - members A newspaper - journalists or editors A faction - leaders or constitution members A hospital - doctors, nurses and other people working there A country - members of the population or leaders Red letter day – an important day. In calendars, important days and holidays are marked in redA part referring to the whole Referring to people according to a single characteristic: "the gray beard" for an older man or "the long hair" for a hippie This leads to bahuvrihi compounds. Describing a complete vehicle as "wheels" Calling a worker "a pair of hands" All "hands" on deckA whole thing referring to a part of it "The city posted a sign", which means that an employee of the local government (but not the geographic location or all of its residents) posted a signA general class name used to denote a specific member of that or anassociated class
"truck" for any four-wheel drive vehicle (as well as long-haul trailers, etc.) Hes good people. [Here, the word "people" is used to denote a specific instance of people, i.e. a person. So the sentence would be interpreted as "Hes a good person.")A specific class name used to refer to a general set of associatedthings "John Hancock" for the signature of any person "bug" for any kind of insect or spider, even if it is not a true bug a genericized trademark, for example "Coke" for any variety of colaThe material that a thing is made of referring to that thing "steel" for a sword "willow" for a cricket bat or "pigskin" for an American or Canadian football "plastic" for credit cards "lead" for bullets "silver" for flatware or other dishes that were once made of silver metal "rubber" for a condom4.Hyperbole It is going to take a bazillion years to get through Medical School. I ate the whole cow. Hes 900 years old. I am so hungry I could eat a horse. There are millions of other things to do. Running faster than the speed of light. You could be Miss Universe. It took light years for this to work. I waited in line for centuries. Ive told you a million times dont exaggerate. I had to walk fifteen miles uphill both ways, in snow five feet deep. I had worse than that in my eye. If I dont get these jeans, I will DIE! I have a million things to do today. I could eat a horse. She cried for days. The whole world was staring at me. The package took forever to arrive in the mail. I had a ton of homework. it took him two seconds to drive here. Her smile was a mile wide. His teeth were blinding white. My car is a million years old. I dont have two cents to rub together. I told you a thousand times! Maybe Ill do it in a million years. I was so embarrassed, I thought I might die.
I am so tired I could sleep for a year. He is as skinny as a toothpick.5.Asyndetona.We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support anyfriend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. J. F.Kennedy, Inaugural *But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.b.We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on theseas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growingstrength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, weshall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shallfight in in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shallnever surrender.6.ApostropheEx.Where, O death, thy sting?where, O death, thy victory?" 1 Corinthians15:55, traditionally attributed to Saint Paul "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2 "O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, / That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! / Thou art the ruins of the noblest man / That ever lived in the tide of times." Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 1 "To what green altar, O mysterious priest, / Leadst thou that heifer lowing at the skies, / And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?"John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" "O eloquent, just, and mighty Death!" Sir Walter Raleigh, A Historie of the World "Roll on thou dark and deep blues de Quincey "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so", John Donne, "Holy Sonnet X" "And you, Eumaeus..." the Odyssey "O My friends, there is no friend." Montaigne, originally attributed to Aristotle "O policy paper, why are you so horrible?" Tamara Taylor "Productivity, why do you elude me so?" Jessica Ellis "Ah Bartleby! Ah Humanity!", from Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville "O black night, nurse of the golden stars!" Electra in Euripides
7.IronyEx.a.A young couple are too poor to buy each other Christmas gifts. The wifecuts off her treasured hair to sell it to a wig-maker for money to buy herhusband a chain for his heirloom pocket watch. Shes shocked when shelearns he had pawned his watch to buy her a set of combs for her long,beautiful, prized hair.b."Gentlemen, you cant fight in here! This is the War Room."Ellipsis The man looked above...all he could see were three black silhouettes against the bright blue sky. When the man looked above he couldnt quite believe what he saw....