Figures of Speech
A figure of speech is the use of a word or
a phrase, which transcends its literal
interpretation. It can be a special
repetition, arrangement or omission of
words with literal meaning, or a phrase
with a specialized meaning not based on
the literal meaning of the words in it, as in
idiom, metaphor, simile, hyperbole,
personification, or synecdoche.
A literary device that uses the same consonant sound at a
Example: She sells sea shells by the sea shore
Alliteration is particularly evident in our modern day lives as the
shop houses and magazines do hire this device. For instance,
“the coffee connoisseur, the coffee club, women’s weekly etc.”
a rhetorical device that repeats a certain expression in order
to give emphasis
Examples: An excerpt from The tyger by William Blake
And what shoulder, and what art
could twist the sinews of thy heart
And when thy heart began to beat,
what dread hand and what dread feet?
a descriptive word or phrase is used to subsititute a person’s
“The Iron lady” for Margaret thatcher
“The King of pop” for Micheal Jackson
“The Mahatma” for Mahatma Ghandhi
the use of unnecessarily large number of words to express a
simple idea. An ambiguous and round about form of speech.
” The square looking bulky black box”
to describe a television set.
an incongruity present between what is expressed and what
is intended, or between an expectation of a reality and what
actually happens. The literal truth is incongruent to the reality.
It’s such an irony that she is at the checkpoint but the
immigrations refuse to let her in the country.
a poetic device whereby the words are sounds made by
things/animals they represent.
Example: Hiss for snakes, Oink for pigs, Quack for ducks, buzz
of bees etc.
is the comparison with two different things often using ‘like’ or
Example: She eats like an ant.
as regular as a clock,
as cunning as a fox,
as slow as sloth etc.
one word is treated as being equal to another. It carries a
step further than what a simile does.
Dead metaphors are metaphors that are so common they are
usually unnoticed. Examples: to catch a cold, to run a program,
to grasp a concept etc.
a brief reference to a literary work, event or person either
directly or by implication.
“I was surprised his nose was not growing like Pinocchio’s.”
This refers to the story of Pinocchio, where his nose grew
whenever he told a lie. It is from The Adventures of Pinocchio,
written by Carlo Collodi.
“When she lost her job, she acted like a Scrooge, and refused
to buy anything that wasn’t necessary.” Scrooge was an
extremely stingy character from Charles Dickens’, A Christmas
an obvious contrast in expression
Examples: “Actions, not words”
“Read, not sleep”
doubling, duplication of words or phrases
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
when a speech is exaggerated
“I can eat a horse” when the person means that he is very
“I am flooded with work” when the person means that he has a
lot to do.
“I’ve told you a million times” when the person means many
the unintentional misuse of words by a speaker because of
the words sounding similar
Example: Keep numb about the matter (Keep mum about it)
“It’s not the heat, it’s the humility” (humidity)
“Lorraine, my density has brought me to you.”
“Yes, George, you are my density” (destiny)
– George Mc Fly, back to the Future
is to substitute a name for word closely associate with the
Example: He loves his bed. ( He loves to sleep)
The pen is mightier than the sword.
(literary power is superior to millitary force)
Blood is thicker than water
(relationship between relatives are stronger than
other relations establish elsewhere)
two contradictory terms conjoined to form a phrase
Examples: deafening silence, bitter sweet, smelly fragrance,
wicked awesome (slang)
Inadvertent oxymorons are caused by unintentional errors or
sloppiness in our langauge but has been made common in our
Examples: original copy, extremely average, objective opinion
is a deliberate error made by the speaker by changing a
morpheme, consonant or vowel of a word.
Example: “That must be a blushing crow for them”
( A crushing blow)
” Is the cable teen?” ( Is the table clean?)
is a form of humour that uses sharp cutting remarks intended
to mock or ridicule others
When you made the most silly mistake ever, your
friend says to you “Good job.”
“oh very funny, haha” when you don’t mean it.