Please vote for us!
Figures of speech (full list)
> Use of language >
Figures of speech > Full list
Figures of speech (or 'rhetorical tropes') are ways of using words that may seem unusual but have a
specific and desired effect. Read as 'normal words' they often break normal
rules of grammar, but can be nevertheless understood They are common in poetry
and eloquent speech.
Figures of speech' is often used generically, and the big list here includes not only figures of speech but also a wider range
of rhetorical and linguistic devices.
Acoloutha: Reciprocal substitution of words.
Accismus: Feigned refusal of that which is desired.
Accumulatio: Drawing points into a powerful climax.
Acutezza: The use of wit or wordplay.
Acyron: Using a word opposite to what is meant.
Adianoeta: Expression that has second, subtle meaning.
Adjunction: Putting the verb at the
Adynaton: Exaggerated declaration of impossibility.
Asteismos: Polite expression of emotion.
Aetiologia: A statement with a supporting cause.
Affirmatio: Speaking as if one's point is disputed.
Aganactesis: Indignant exclamation.
Allegory: Narrative using sustained metaphor.
Alleotheta: Substituting one thing for another.
Allusion: Indirect reference.
Alliteration: Repetition of same initial sound. Ambage: See
Amphibology: Ambiguity in grammar.
Amphilogy: Circumlocution to avoid harm to
Ampliatio: Using a name where it is not defined.
Amplificatio: General enhancement of an argument.
Anabasis: Stepwise increase in emphasis.
Anacephalaeosis: Summary of known facts.
Anacoenosis: Asking opinion of audience to gain
Anacoloutha: Non-reciprocal word
Anacoluthon: Ending a sentence different to expectation.
Anacrusis: Unstressed syllables at the start.
Anadiplosis: Repeating last word at start of next sentence.
Analogy: A is like B. Using one thing to describe another.
Anamnesis: Emotional recall.
Anangeon: Justification based on necessity.
Anaphora: Repeating initial words.
Anapodoton: Omitting clause for deliberate
Anastrophe: Changing normal word order.
Anesis: Adding a conclusion that reduces what was said.
Antanaclasis: Repeating same word, with meaning change.
Antanagoge: Being positive about something negative.
Anthimeria: Substituting one part of speech for another. Antilogy: See
Antimetabole: repeating clause, reversing
Anthypophora: Asking then answering your own questions.
Antiphrasis: Using words in contrary sense for irony.
Antiptosis: Two logical, but contradicting, arguments.
Antirhesis: Rejecting bad argument.
Antisthecon: Replacing one word element.
Antistrophe: Repeating the final word in successive phrases.
Antithesis: Contrasting with opposite.
Antonomasia: Naming a person with other than
their given name.
Apcope: Omitting letters from the end of a word.
Aphaeresis: Omitting letters from the start of a word.
Aphorismus: Questioning the meaning of a
Apophasis: Talking about something without
Aporia: Feigned doubt.
Aposiopesis: Not completing a sentence.
Apostrophe: An 'aside', to others.
Apposition: Layered meaning.
Archaism: Using out-of-date language.
Assonance: Repeating the same vowel sound.
Asterismos: Adding a word to emphasize
Asyndeton: Omitting conjunctions.
Aureation: The use of fancy words.
Autoclesis: introducing an item by refusing to discuss it.
Auxesis: Enhancement of importance.
Bdelygmia: Expression of contempt or hatred.
Bomphiologia: Bombastic, bragging speech.
Brachyology: Condensed expression.
Brevitas: Concise expression.
Cacemphaton: Deliberately ill-sounding expression.
Cacophony: Harsh combination of words.
Catabasis: Steadily decreasing emphasis.
Catachresis: Using words incorrectly.
Cataphora: Using a word to refer to a word used later.
Categoria: Directly exposing another's
Chiasmus: Two phrases, with reversal in second.
Cledonism: Circumlocution to avoid saying
Climax: Words ordered in ascending power. Congeries: see
Consonance: Repeating consonant sounds.
Correctio: Correction to revise meaning.
Crasis: Contraction of two vowels into a longer sound.
Diacope: Repeating word after one or two other words.
Diallage: Multiple arguments to establish a single point.
Distinctio: Describing something by saying what it is not. Dubitatio: See
Dysphemism: Substituting a mild word with a stronger one.
Dysrhythmia: Breaking of a rhythmic pattern.
Dystmesis: Inserting one word into the middle of another.
Ecphonesis: Short exclamation.
Ellipsis: omission of words that would make a sentence explicit.
Enallage: Substituting one item for another.
Enjambment: Breaking a phrase at an odd
Enumeratio: Breaking down and detailing a
Epanalepsis: Repeating the same phrase at
start and end.
Epanados: Repeating words in the reverse
Epanorthosis: In-sentence correction.
Epenthesis: Adding letters to the middle
of a word.
Epistrophe: Repetition of the same final word or phrase.
Epitrope: Conceding in order to gain.
Epizeuxis: Repetition of a word with vehemence.
Erotema: Rhetorical question.
Ethopoeia: Putting oneself in the position of another.
Euche: Expressing emotion through prayer.
Euphemism: Substituting offensive words with gentle ones.
Eusystolism: Use of initials to avoid speaking harsh words.
Exemplum: Using examples (real or fictitious).
Exergasia: Restating a point in different
Extraposition: Putting a subject at a later position than normal.
Fictio: Attributing of human traits to creatures.
Glossolalia: Fabricated, meaningless speech. Gradation: See
Hendiadys: Two words, connected by conjunction.
Heterosis: Changing the form of the verb.
Homoioteleuton: similar endings in adjacent or parallel words.
Homophone: Different words that sound the
Hypallage: Reversing syntactical relationship.
Hyperbaton: Separating words that belong together.
Hyperbole: Deliberate over-exaggeration.
Hypocatastasis: Implied comparison.
Hypocorism: Use of pet names, diminutives, baby talk. Hypophora: see
Hypotaxis: Subordination of clauses to show
Hypozeuxis: Every clause having its own subject and verb.
Hysteron proteron: Reversing temporal
sequence to put key things first.
Illeism: Referring to oneself in the third person.
Inclusio: Bracketing a passage with the same
Innuendo: Oblique allusion.
Irony: Saying something by using its opposite.
Isocolon: Phrases with multiple similarities.
Kenning: Replacing noun with circumlocutory
Kolakeia: Flattery to distract from unwanted elements.
Litotes: Denying the contrary of what it being affirmed.
Malapropism: replacing a word with one that sounds similar.
Meiosis: Understatement for emphasis or effect.
Merism: Combining words for meaning beyond normal combination.
Merismos: Complete description or reference.
Metalepsis: Referencing something through a
weakly associated item.
Metaphor: A is B. Using one thing to describe another.
Metaplasmus: Deliberate misspelling.
Metathesis: Rearranging letters in a word.
Metonymy: Using one item to represent another.
Narratio: Presenting essential facts.
Nosism: Referring to oneself in the plural.*ILLEISM*
Oeonismos: Expressing emotion through wishing
Optatio: Exclaiming a wish.
Oxymoron: Adjacent words that seem to contradict one another.
Parachesis: Repeating the same sound in
Paradeigma: Listing examples to create generalization.
Paradiastole: Portraying a vice as a virtue.
Paradox: Seeming contradiction.
Paraeneticon: Expressing emotion through
Paralipsis: Emphasis by obvious omission.
Parallelism: Repeated patterns in a
Paraprosdokian: Surprising ending.
Parataxis: Successive independent clauses.
Paregmenon: Repetition of words of the
Parisology: Deliberate use of ambiguous words.
Parison: Matching patterns across structures.
Parisosis: Same number of syllables in a
Paroemion: Excessive alliteration.
Paromoiosis. Similar sounds across two
Paronomasia: Using similarly sounding words.
Parrhesia: Boldness of speech.
Periphrasis: Roundabout wording.
Perissologia: Excessive use of words.
Personification: Giving an object human characteristics.
Pleonasm: Using unnecessary words.
Ploce: Repetition of a word whilst varying
Polyptoton: Repetition of a word in different forms.
Polysyndeton: Repeating conjunctions.
Polyptoton: Repetition in different forms.
Praecisio: Not speaking to get over the
message. Praegnans constructio: See
Praeteritio: Mentioning something that is
against the rules.
Procatalepsis: Answering objections in advance.
Prolepsis: Anticipation of action.
Proparalepsis: Adding letters to the
end of a word.
Prosthesis: Prefixing letters to the beginning of a word.
Proverb: An encapsulated and unquestioned
Psittacism: parrot-like repetition.
Pun: A play on words.
Repetitio: Repeating a single word.
Rhyme: Repeating sounds at end of words.
Scesis onamaton: Omitting the only
Sententia: Quoting wisdom to create truth.
Simile: Explicit comparison between two things.
Spoonerism: Interchange of initial letters of two words.
Subreption: Phrasing words to misrepresent and concealing facts. Syllepsis: See
Symploce: Simultaneous use of anaphora and epistrophe.
Synaloepha: Omitting one vowel to combine two words.
Synchysis: Confused arrangement of words.
Syncope: Shortening word by omitting middle segment.
Syndeton: Use of conjunctions.
Synecdoche: Understanding one thing with another.
Synesis: Unifying things.
Synizesis: Successively sounded vowels.
Synonymia: Repeating synonyms for
Tapinosis: Downplaying and reducing something.
Tautology: Repeating meaning, unnecessarily.
Tmesis: Inserting a word in the middle of another. Transumptio: See
Tricolon: Three components, increasing power.
Zeugma: Two words linked to another, only one appropriately.
These are the four classic classifications for figures of speech that modify
text: addition, omission, substitution and arrangement. It is often significant
where these modifications happen, at the beginning, middle or end of the word,
phrase or sentence.
Also check out:
In some ways this list is a bit of a stretch in using the term '
describe all. In fact many are actually more devices than figures. But then
'figure of speech' is commonly used to encompass many forms and has been adopted
See also Fallacies,