(It Figures) of Speech

Oh, No!
Not another "educational" post!

In a post a couple of years ago I was discussing tips for writing by offering my own methods. I mentioned that I try to use figures of speech as much as possible. I listed a few that I try to use while also noting that there were others I might use without knowing I had used them. One person commented that she would have to look some of them up if she were to try to use them.

....That got me to thinking that I should provide a list of them and give an example(s) of each. While such a list can be useful to others, it will be helpful to me as well. Perhaps I will reacquaint myself with them. Also by posting a list of them, it will be here in the archives to refer to from time to time. There are some that I really am not familiar with, let alone use them. A definition is one thing, but by including an example of each, the list may prove useful for anyone so interested.

(a) Simile - a comparison of two things by using like or as: "White as chalk." "A baby's feet, like sea-shells pink" "Quick as lightning"

(b) Metaphor - unlike a simile, a metaphor does not use like or as, but instead makes an implied or direct comparison: "A tower of strength" "Hours and minutes are dollars and cents"

(c) Personification - inanimate things are given human attributes: "the hands of time" "The ball screamed when hit by the bat." "the flowers danced"

(d) Alliteration - the use of a succession of words with the same initial letter: "fine feathered friends" "babbling brook" "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers"

(e) Onamatopeia - the use of words or a phrase to imitate the sound of something: "the buzz,buzz of bees" "Bow Wow!" "Rat a tat"

(f) Euphemism - a mild expression used in the place of an unpleasant statement: "He passed away" (instead of He died) "fender bender" (instead of accident)

(g) Epithet - descriptive word or phrase used for an important meaning or a vivid picture; there are two kinds of epithets:

Essential - names or qualities that are always associated with thing described: "green grass" "blue skies"

Conventional - adjectives that become associated with certain names: "Honest Abe" "Doubting Thomas"
(h) Epigram - short forceful expression that implies just the opposite: "The silence was audible."

(i) Interrogation - phrase that asks a question with an implied negative answer: "Am I a dog?" "What am I chopped liver?"

(j) Antithesis - a contrast of opposite terms or ideas: "Rich and poor" "Hot and cold"

(k) Irony - expression stating the opposite of what is meant: From Julius Caesar, Marc Antony's "..And they are honorable men."

(l) Allusion - a reference is made made of something to which reader is familiar: "A Napoleon of finance" "A Daniel come to judgment."

(m) Assonance - a recurrence of the same vowel sound in a group of words: "Hark! Hark! The lark!"

(n) Synecdoche - figure where part of an object is used to signify the whole, or vice versa: "A thousand hands waved farewell." "The city welcomed the returning soldiers."

(o) Metonymy - figure by which the cause is put before the cause, or vice versa: "Gray hairs should be respected." "He was the sigh of his mother's soul."

(p) Litotes - figure by which a strong affirmative is expressed by a negative to the contrary: "The storm of no small force drove our vessel before it." "a citizen of no mean city."

(q) Climax - arrangement of words in ascending order of importance, with strongest expression last in order: "I know it, I concede it, I confess it, I proclaim it!" "Veni, Vidi, Vici!" (I came, I saw, I conquered.)

(r) Hyperbole - an exaggeration to gather attention: "Every word that Webster used weighed a pound."

(s) Apostrophe - expression that turns aside usual order of words addressing an object: "O Grave! Where is thy victory?" "O Death! Where is thy sting?"

(t) Vision - similar to an apostrophe, but less forceful, describing a scene, object or event as if it were in view: "I see before me the gladiator lie."

(u) Euphony - pleasing effects of sounds produced by combining words in sentences or of phonetic elements of spoken words: "The bells of Shandon that sound so grand on/ The Pleasant waters of the river Lee."

For Litotes, Hyperbole and Euphony, I had to do a search to find sentences. I don't know if I ever have used, ever tried to use, or ever thought about using either one of these three figures of speech.

Armed with these, you are primed to write!



Serena Joy said...

Good post, Mike! Great stuff to know.

Hale McKay said...

I find that I have used some of these at times and didn't realize it. Do authors say..."I think I'll put in a Hyperbole here .. an allusion here ... some assonance there ...and how about a little metonymy for good measure in chapter three?"

I do, don't we all? LOL!

Serena Joy said...

I personally will use anything that works. Especially when I need filler for purposes of upping word count. LOL.

jimh said...

I find that I use hyperbole at least once every twenty minutes.