Eloquent English #15- Figures of Speech


This week I’ll be listing out various figures of speech. You can test your knowledge about them or you could learn about them if you don’t know.

However, there’s only one warning: Overuse can damage the health of your writing. By all means try to incorporate some of them to catch your reader’s attention. But use it as a seasoning or sugar only; too much of it, and it stops giving pleasure.

  • ALLITERATION- Use of words staring with or containing the same letter or sound: The furrow followed free
  • ANTITHESIS- An expression in which contrasting ideas are carefully balanced: More haste, less speed
  • APOSTROPHE- An old-fashioned direct address to an absent or dead person or a thing: O Freedom! Hear our cry!
  • ASSONANCE- Repetition of vowel sounds, producing a half-rhyme effect: slow progress over the cold plateau
  • ASYNDETON- Omission of conjunctions: I came, I saw, I conquered
  • ELLIPSIS- Omission of words, or sudden breaking off in mid-sentence, for dramatic effect: The door opened, and…
  • EUPHEMISM- An inoffensive expression used in place of a sharper or more explicit one, such as to pass away for to die
  • HYPERBOLE- Exaggeration or over-statement for emphasis: I could eat a horse.
  • INNUENDO- An indirect or subtle suggestion, often intended as a veiled accusation: Not everyone would be able to believe that
  • IRONY- Use of word or words to convey something markedly different from the literal meaning: It’s a secret, so only half of London knows about it; a common component of sarcasm, though not necessarily so cutting
  • LITOTES- Understatement in which an idea is tellingly conveyed, typically contradicting its opposite: He’s not exactly sober
  • METAPHOR- Description of one thing in terms of another that is related to it by analogy: She sailed across the room
  • METONYMY- Use of concrete term to refer to some wider idea that it characterises, such as the Crown for the monarchy
  • ONOMATOPOEIA- Use of words whose sound suggests their meaning: for example, sizzle, splash, crack, buzz, zap
  • OXYMORON- A phrase linking incongruous or contradictory terms: a wise fool
  • PARADOX- An apparently absurd or self-contradictory statement that may nevertheless be true or wise: Her gentleness was too hurtful to bear
  • PATHETIC FALLACY- The assigning of human feelings or characteristics to natural or inanimate objects: the trees groaned
  • PERSONIFICATION- The representation of an object or idea as human: the jovial Moon smiling benignly down at us
  • POLYSYNDETON- Repetition of conjunctions for rhetorical effect:I went to Florence and Venice and Rome and Naples
  • RHETORICAL QUESTION (EROTEMA)- A question asked for effect or to convey information rather than to elicit an answer: Isn’t it a lovely day? How could anyone support such a useless project?
  • SIMILE- Comparison of two unlike ideas or objects, typically using the word like or as: lips like rosebuds, and kisses like wine
  • SYLLEPSIS- Use of single word to apply to two others, in different ways: He held his tongue and my hand
  • SYNECDOCHE- Use of name of a part to refer to whole, or vice versa, such as forty sail to refer to forty ships
  • TRANSFERRED EPITHET- Deliberate misapplication of an adjective to a noun: his sleepless pillow, the condemned cell
  • ZEUGMA- Use of single word to apply to two others, especially when it is only one; a faulty syllepsis: He held his tongue and his promise

That’s all for today. Next Saturday wait for some quotation illustrating a few of these figures of speech.




Author: Vrushali

I'm a under grad student on the path to become an accountant but that doesn't stop me from loving books, art and writing among many other things. I blog about all of them and all things that make life worth living. Check out my

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