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Figures of Speech

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Figure of Speech Dictionary

A figure of speech or a trope (the latter word has a more specific use) is a non-ordinary use of language employed to create an emphasis, amplify a meaning, draw a comparison or contrast, or to make a rhetorical point. The figure may be achieved by employing repetition of words or sounds in a specific pattern, making an interjection, stating or implying a comparison, using synonyms, or using a specific pattern of argument. This searchable dictionary collects some of the common forms (about half of all figures). Use the Contact Page to advise of corrections, additional examples or forms we have missed.

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Results for Parenthesis:

Anaeresis or Detraction

A negative parenthetic addition that is complete in itself.

Secondary Category: negative

e.g. When I was last in Paris--but you wouldn't know what Paris is like, now would you dear--I stopped at the most divine restaurant.


A form of aside directed in an abstract direction.

e.g. 1. Ah, sword of the Lord! How long till you are quiet? (JeremiahJeremiah. 47:6). 2. O Death, where is thy sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55) 3. O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...

Notes: The parenthesis is short, often sharp, and is intended to catch the attention of hearers and emphasize the point being made. It usually begins with "O" (a form of address)."


Turning from the immediate hearers or from the subject at hand to address an absent or imaginary person or thing.

e.g. See Iago in Shakespeare's Othello addressing the audience and informing them of his plans.

Cataploce or Exclamation

An emphatic parenthetic addition that is complete in itself.

e.g. God forbid!

Notes: Exclamation differs from interjection in that it usually involves an emotional response.

Epitrechon or Remark (Running Along)

A parenthetic addition that is not complete in itself, but requires the context to be understood.

Secondary Category: explanation

e.g. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years. (Genesis 15:13)

Notes: The phrase "and shall serve them" is the epitrechon."

Hypotimesis or Under-Estimating

A minimizing parenthetic addition complete in itself. Usually used to express an apology for what might otherwise be taken amiss.

e.g. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about--I am speaking as a fool-- I also dare to boast about. (2 Corinthians 11:21)


A parenthetic addition that may not share the surrounding grammatical structure, but is complete in itself.

e.g. Here they come now. Look out! The black is about to overtake for the lead.

Parembole or Digression

A complete parenthetic addition that bears little if any overt relationship with the surrounding material.

e.g. And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent. (1 Samuel 17:54).

Notes: Also called a rabbit trail. The context may not be required for a digression to be understood as the subject has been explicitly changed.

Parenthesis or Interpositio

An addition complete in itself, understandable only in its context, but without necessarily any grammatical connection to the surrounding text. The parenthesis may be an illustration of the context or a near-digression into a tangential topic.

e.g. So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation', spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16)

Notes: A parenthesis differs from a digression in that it provides an explanation of the material in the surrounding context. That is, the main subject has not been changed. The parenthesis may be an illustration."

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About's page
American Rhetoric in Sound
Brainy Encyclopedia's List (Also found elsewhere)
Earnest Speakers
Figures of Speech Exercises
Figures of Speech Quiz
Figures of Speech Tables
The Forest of Rhetoric
RinkWorks Fun With Words
Stephen Hecht's page
Important Grammatical & Linguistical Terms
Infoplease Glossary of Poetry Terms
List of Poetry Terms
Deborah Rudd's page
Brian Tung's page
UNCP Glossary of Literary Terms
Kip Wheeler's page
Grant William's page
Who is the brain (sic) behind opundo?

Biblical Figures of Speech
Basics of Biblical Interpretation
Biblical Idioms
Bullinger's Biblical Figures
Figures of Speech Introduction
Keys to the Word's Interpretation
A. E. Knoch's page
NT Figures of Speech
Truth or Tradition's List

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Updated 2005 12 28