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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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Catabasis or Gradual Descent

An decrease of emphasis on some meaning in successive sentences.

Category: Rhetoric

e.g. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)

Notes: May be Used to emphasize humiliation, sorrow. The opposite of anabasis."

Catachresis or Incongruity

Two items compared or one standing for the other when the ideas they represent are radically different or perhaps contradictory, paradoxical or contradictory logic, or an illogical mixed metaphor.

Category: Meaning

e.g. To take arms against a sea of troubles. William Shakespeare

Notes: The user may simply be employing one word incorrectly thinking it is another of perhaps similar spelling.

Cataploce or Exclamation

An emphatic parenthetic addition that is complete in itself.

Category: Parenthesis

e.g. God forbid!

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


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.

Category: Repetition

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.

Category: Repetition

Secondary Category: logic

e.g. II Peter 1:5

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

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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

Related Pages
Rhyme Zone
Writing Resource Links


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Updated 2005 12 28