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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 Repetition:

Anadiplosis or Like Endings & Beginnings

A "doubling back" or repetition of the same word or words from the end of one sentence or clause at the beginning of another.

e.g. Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. -- Francis Bacon

Anaphora or Like-Beginnings

The repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.

e.g. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. (Winston Churchill)


A repetition of the same word in the same sentence or in very close proximity but with two different meanings.

e.g. They cast lots to see which of the two lots they would be buying.

Notes: This may be done for humorous effect. Unless handled with great care, or used for a specific effect, repetition of the same word or derivatives thereof in close proximity catches the eye as amateurish or clumsy writing.


The repetition of vowel sounds within a short passage.

e.g. Moses supposes his toeses are roses.

Notes: Generally used in poetry, not prose."


From the Greek letter chi, shaped like the Latin X, and meaning a crossing. Two entities are related to one another in a "crossing" structure.

e.g. 1. I love you as you love me. 2. "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." (John F. Kennedy)

Climax or Gradation

Continuous anadiplosis - repetition of endings and beginnings of a particular sentence or clause.

Secondary Category: logic

e.g. II Peter 1:5

Notes: Each of the repeated concepts is important in the sequence of argument.

Double (Multiple) Negation

Use of two or more negatives in close proximity. Formally, this would imply a positive, but the usual effect is to emphasize the negative.

e.g. He don't got no dough.

Notes: Can be the combination of a negative verb with a negative conjunction.

Epanadiplosis or Encircling

Repetition of the same word or words at the beginning and end of a sentence or sentence group.

e.g. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

Notes: Consider the encircled sentences as a unit of thought.

Epanados or Inversion

Repetition of different words in a sentence in an inverse order but with a similar meaning.

e.g. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. (Isaiah 6:10)

Epanalepsis or Resumption

Repetition of a word, phrase, or idea following any kind of parenthesis in order to return to the original thought..

e.g. See 1Cor.10:29; Phil.1:24 for instances of this.

Notes: Marks return to a previous subject, possibly following a paranthetical remark."


Repetition of the same phrase at irregular intervals.

e.g. c.f. Psalm 29: 3-9

Notes: Differs from anaphora and repetition by being a phrase not just one word.

Epistrophe or Like Endings

Repetition of the same word or words at the end of successive clauses or sentences.

e.g. I yearn more to learn more that I may earn more.

Notes: Often creates a structural pattern for an argument, discussion, or description. If ending sounds rather than whole words or more are repeated, we call the epistrophe a rhyme."

Epizeuxis or Duplication

Repetition of the same word in immediate succession.

e.g. Isaiah 26:3

Notes: The effect is to emphasize or establish the word duplicated.

Homeopropheron or Alliteration

Repetition of the same letter or syllable at the commencement of two or more successive words.

e.g. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

Notes: Tongue twisters are among the more common alliterations.

Paradiastole or Neither-Nor

Repetition of the disjunctive pair "neither" and "nor".

Secondary Category: disjunctives

e.g. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)

Polyptoton or Many Inflections

Repetition of the same noun in different inflections or the same verb in different conjugations.

e.g. ...had, having, and in quest to have, extreme... -- Shakespeare, Sonnet 129

Notes: This may be a verb with a related noun/adjective. Common in Semitic languages.


Repetition of words similar in ending sound but not necessarily in sense or origin.

e.g. Little baby fast asleep, wishing you don't make a peep. Big brown eyes smile so sweet. Little baby fast asleep. (Roshina Sheppard)


The use of several synonyms in succession to add emotional force or clarity.

e.g. She was lovely, beautiful, gorgeous, a paragon of femininity.

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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
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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

Related Pages
Rhyme Zone
Writing Resource Links


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Updated 2005 12 28