Rhetorical Devices 1-100 Definitions

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100 Terms

1

Adage

A familiar proverb or wise saying. "The early bird gets the worm." or "The second mouse gets the cheese."

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2

Ad homenim argument

Attacking the character of the arguer rather than the argument itself

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3

Allegory

The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. In some allegories, for example, an author may intend the characters to personify an abstraction like hope or freedom.

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4

Alliteration

The practice of beginning several consecutive words with the same sound, e.g., The twisting trout twinkled below.

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5

Allusion

A reference to mythological, literary, or historical person, place, or thing.

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6

Anadiplosis

A figure of repetition that occurs when the last word or terms in one sentence, clause, or phrase is/are repeated at or very near the beginning of the next sentence, clause, or phrase. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.—Yoda *Related to conduplicatio.

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7

Ambiguity

Allows for two or more simultaneous interpretations of a word, phrase, action, or situation, all of which can be supported by the context of a work.

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8

Analogy

A similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them.

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9

Anaphora

One of the devices of repetition, in which the same expression (word or words) is repeated at the beginning of two or more lines or sentences. *see epistrophe and symploce

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10

Antanagoge

Placing a good point or benefit next to a fault criticism, or problem in order to reduce the impact or significance of the negative point: The new anti-pollution equipment will increase the price of the product slightly, I am aware; but the effluent water from the plant will be actually cleaner than the water coming in.

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11

Anecdote

A short narrative detailing particulars of an interesting episode or event. The term most frequently refers to an incident in the life of a person.

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12

Antecedent

The word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers In the sentence

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13

Antithesis

The juxtaposition of contrasting words, often in parallel structure. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!"— Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream -or—Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."—Barry Goldwater

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14

Aphorism

A terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral principle. (If an authorship is unknown, the statement is generally considered to be a folk proverb). "It is better to be hated for what one is than loved for what one is not."—Andre Gide

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15

Aporia

Expresses doubt about an idea or conclusion. Among its several uses are the suggesting of alternatives without making a commitment to either or any.

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16

apostrophe

a form of personification in which the absent or dead are spoken to as if present and the inanimate as if animate. They are addressed directly.

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17

appositive

a noun or noun phrase that follows another noun immediately or defines or amplifies its meaning. John and Jane, two excellent students, passed the AP test.

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18

assonance

the repetition of vowel sounds in a series of words, e.g., the words "cry" and "side" have the same vowel sound and are so said to be in assonance.

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19

asyndeton

the omission of conjunctions between related clauses—I came, I saw, I conquered.

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20

bathos

insincere or overly sentimental quality of writing/speech intended to evoke pity

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21

chiasmus

a form of parallelism; a statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed. Susan walked in, and out rushed Mary. (or) Polished in courts and hardened in the field, Renowned for conquest and in council skilled... --Joseph Addison

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22

cliché

an expression that has been overused to the extent that its freshness is worn off. We're not out of the woods yet!

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23

colloquial/colloquialism

The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing. Not generally acceptable for formal writing

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24

complex sentence

a sentence with one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. When he handed in the homework, he forgot to hand in the last page. In this sentence, the dependent clause is "When he handed in the homework." The students are studying because they have a test tomorrow. In this sentence, the dependent clause is "The students are studying because."

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25

compound sentence

a sentence with two or more coordinate independent clauses, often joined by one or more conjunctions. Alex played football, so Maria went shopping. or I tried to speak French, but my friend spoke the language better.

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26

conceit

A fanciful expression in writing or speech; an elaborate metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects. A conceit displays intellectual cleverness as a result of the unusual comparison being made. For example, comparing a prison cell to the world or an icy garden to your heart

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27

conduplicatio

resembles anadiplosis in the repetition of a preceding word, but it repeats a key word (not just the last word) from a preceding phrase, clause, or sentence, at the beginning of the next. *related to anadiplosis "I could list the problems which cause people to feel cynical,problems which include lack of integrity in government, the feeling that the individual no longer counts...'"-- B. Jordan, 1976 Democratic National Convention Address

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28

context

the convergence of time, place, audience, and motivating factors in which a piece of writing or a speech is situated.

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29

consonance

the repetition of a consonant sound within a series of words to produce a harmonious effect; we say the language is in "consonance." E.g., Drawing the blinds did nothing indubitably different.

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30

circumlocution

the use of an unnecessarily large number of words or an indirect means of expression to express an idea so as to affect an evasion in speech.

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31

cumulative (or loose) sentence

A type of sentence in which the main idea (independent clause) comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units such as phrases and clauses. I write this at a wide desk in a pine shed as I always do these recent years, in this life I pray will last, while the summer sun closes the sky to Orion and to all the other winter stars over my roof."

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32

declarative sentence

a sentence that makes a statement or declaration The sky is blue.

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33

dialect

a variety of speech characterized by its own particular grammar or pronunciation, often associated with a particular geographical region.

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34

diction

author's word choice. Includes connotation/denotation and levels of formality

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35

distinctio

a figure of explication in which an introductory reference to a word's meaning is made (e.g., "by x I mean," "which is to say that," "that is") followed by a further elaboration of that word's meaning, explicit definition of, or elaboration upon the meaning or meanings of a particular word or set of words. E.g.: To make methanol for twenty-five cents a gallon is impossible; by "impossible" I mean currently beyond our technological capabilities.

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36

double entendre

the double (or multiple) meanings of a group of words that the speaker or writer has purposely left ambiguous; one meaning is usually risqué. If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?

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37

epigram

a brief, pithy, and often paradoxical saying

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38

epigraph

a saying or statement on the title page of a work, or used as a heading for a chapter or other section of work

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39

epithet

a term used to point out a characteristic in a person. Homeric epithets are often compound adjectives ("swift-footed Achilles") that become an almost formulaic part of a name. Epithets can be abusive or offensive but are not so by definition. For example, athletes may be proud of their given epithets ("The Rock" or "The Fridge" from the 1985 Chicago Bears team). Another example might be "Richard the Lion-Hearted."

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40

epistrophe

the opposite of anaphora, repetition at the end of successive clauses. They saw no evil, they spoke no evil, and they heard no evil. *see anaphora and symploce

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41

eponym

in rhetoric, similar to an allusion, referring to a specific famous person to link his or her attributes with someone else. Is he smart? Why, the man is an Einstein. (or) With a bow and arrow, Kathy is a real Diana. [Diana was goddess of the moon, of the hunt, and of chastity.]

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42

ethos

the appeal of a text to the credibility and character of the speaker, writer, or narrative.

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43

euphemism

an indirect expression of unpleasant information in such a way as to lessen its impact. Passed away instead of died.

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44

expletive

an interjection to lend emphasis― sometimes, a profanity― Figure of emphasis in which a single word or short phrase, usually interrupting normal speech, is used to lend emphasis to the words on either side of the expletive. Typical examples include: in fact, of course, to be sure, indeed, I suppose, I hope, , I think, you know, you see, clearly, in any event, in effect, certainly, remarkably. Example: "I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey." ― from the movie Rocky Horror Picture Show

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45

extended analogy/metaphor

an extended passage arguing that if two things are similar in one or two ways, they are probably similar in other ways as well. An extended example is carried through several sentences or paragraphs.

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46

homily

literally means "sermon," but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice

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47

hyperbole

a deliberate, extravagant, and often outrageous exaggeration: "The shot heard 'round the world." or "There are a million other things to do."

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48

hypophora

a figure of speech in which a writer raises a question and then immediately provides an answer to that question. Commonly, a question is asked in the first paragraph and then the paragraph is used to answer the question. It is also known as antipophora or anthypophora.

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49

ibid

the term is Latin to provide a footnote citation for a source that was cited in the preceding endnote or footnote; it serves a similar purpose to "ditto marks" (").

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50

imagery

consists of words or phrases a writer uses to represent persons, objects, actions, feelings, and ideas descriptively by appealing to the senses.

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51

invective

an emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language

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52

irony

(verbal) irony-when a speaker says one thing while meaning the opposite. (situational) irony-when a situation turns out differently from what one would expect normally—though the twist is oddly appropriate. (dramatic) irony-when a speaker or character says or does something that has a different meaning from what he or she thinks it means; though, the audience and other characters understand the full implications of the speech or actions.

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53

litotes

a type of understatement in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite (describing a particularly horrific scene by saying, "It was not a pretty picture." *This device doesn't always have to use the word "not."

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54

logos

an appeal to logic

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55

loose (or cumulative) sentence

A type of sentence in which the main idea (independent clause) comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units such as phrases and clauses. I write this at a wide desk in a pine shed as I always do these recent years, in this life I pray will last, while the summer sun closes the sky to Orion and to all the other winter stars over my roof."

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56

malapropism

the mistaken substitution of one word for another that sounds similar. The doctor wrote a subscription. (instead of a prescription)

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57

metaphor

a comparison of two unlike things not using "like" or "as."

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58

mood

the atmosphere or predominant emotion in a literary work.

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59

metonymy

[mih-ton-ih-mee] from the Greek meaning "substitute name." A figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it. The White House declared rather than The President declared. or The pen is mightier than the sword. Rather than Writing is more powerful than war/fighting.

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60

non sequitur

an illogical inference that does not follow logically from the premises (literally, "does not follow")

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61

onomatopoeia

the use of words to mimic sounds they describe "Buzz" or "Moan"

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62

oxymoron

a form of paradox that combines a pair of opposite terms in a single unusual expression: e.g., "sweet sorrow" "thunderous silence"

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63

paradox

occurs when the elements of a statement contradict each other.

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64

parallelism

the grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity. For parallel structure, balance nouns with nouns, prepositional phrases with prepositional phrases, main clauses with main clauses, and so on—in one paper, whole paragraphs can parallel other paragraphs. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens writes, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity."

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65

parody

A work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule.

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66

pathos

an appeal to emotions or interests of the audience

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67

periodic sentence

A sentence that presents its central meaning in the main clause at the end. This independent clause is preceded by a phrase or clause that cannot stand alone. Ecstatic with my AP score, running into the room, I let out a loud shout!

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68

personification

gives inanimate objects or abstract ideas human characteristics.

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69

polysyndeton

(opposite of asyndeton) the use, for rhetorical effect, of more conjunctions than is necessary or natural. We lived and laughed and loved and left.

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70

predicate adjective

One type of subject complement—an adjective, group of adjectives, or adjective clause that follows a linking verb.

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71

predicate nominative

A second type of subject complement—a noun, group of nouns, or noun clause that follows a linking verb and renames the subject.

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72

procatalepsis

(also called prolepsis or prebuttal) is a figure of speech in which the speaker raises an objection to his own argument and then immediately answers it. By doing so, he hopes to strengthen his argument by dealing with possible counter-arguments before his audience can raise them.

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73

pun

a play on words, often achieved through the use of words with similar sounds but different meanings.

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74

qualifiers

words/phrases that limit the force of an author's claim.

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75

rhetorical question

a question posed by the speaker or writer not to seek an answer but instead to affirm or deny a point simply by asking a question about it

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76

repetition

The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as a sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.

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77

sarcasm

the use of verbal irony in which a person appears to be praising something but is actually insulting it.

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78

satire

a work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform and ridicule.

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79

sententia

a figure of argument in which a wise, witty, or pithy maxim or aphorism is used to sum up the preceding material. E.g.: "So, I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. 'Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.'"

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80

simile

a comparison of two different things or ideas through the use of "like" or "as."

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81

solecism

nonstandard grammatical usage; a violation of grammatical rules

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82

style

the writer’s characteristic manner of employing language.

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83

subject complement

the word (with any accompanying phrases) or clauses that follows a linking verb and complements, or completes the subject of the sentence by either (1) renaming it or (2) describing it.

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84

subordinate clause

this word group contains both a subject and a verb, but unlike the independent clause, the subordinate clause cannot stand alone; it does not express a complete thought.

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85

syllepsis

a construction in which one word is used in two different senses. After he threw the ball, he threw a fit.

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86

syllogism

a deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises (the first one called “major” and the second, “minor”) that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion. All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

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87

symbolism

any object, person, place, or action that has both a meaning in itself and that stands for something larger than itself.

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88

symploce

combining anaphora and epistrophe, so that one word or phrase is repeated at the beginning and another word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences: To think clearly and rationally should be a major goal for man*; but* to think clearly and rationally is always the greatest difficulty faced by man*.*

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89

syntax

The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences.

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90

synecdoche

using one part of an object to represent the entire object. For example, referring to a car simply as “wheels.”

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91

thesis

the sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author’s opinion, purpose, meaning, or position.

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92

tone

the writer’s or speaker’s attitude towards a subject, character, or audience, and it is conveyed through the author’s choice of words and detail.

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93

trope

an artful variation from expected modes of expression of thought and ideas; a figure of speech involving a “turn” or change of sense—a use of the word in a sense other than its proper or literal one.

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94

tautology

needless repetition which adds no meaning or understanding (redundancy) widow woman  or  free gift

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95

undertone

an attitude that may lie under the ostensible tone of the piece.

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96

understatement

is the opposite of hyperbole.  It is a kind of irony that deliberately represents something as  being much less than it really is: I could probably manage to survive on a salary of two million dollars per year.

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97

unreliable narrator

an untrustworthy or naïve commentator on events and characters in a story.

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98

vernacular

the everyday speech of a particular country or region, often involving nonstandard usage.

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99

volta

a turn in the piece, or a shift in tone/voice/narrative/topic that indicates the author’s idea.  Pyle discusses first the destruction of the machines, and then shifts to the personal effects of the soldiers.

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100

zeugma

a trope, one word (usually a noun or main verb) governs two other words not related in meaning.

I was running low on faith and gasoline/ You held your breath and the door for me.

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