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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Hendiadys or Two for One
Two words with similar or identical meanings are used where one would be sufficient.
e.g. The Latin expression "cum amicitia atque pace", literally "with peace and friendship" might be rendered in English as "with friendly peace", changing one of the redundant nouns into an adjective.
Notes: The combination of concepts that more often are described with a different word combining the two ideas.
Hendiatris or Three for One
Three words used but one thing meant.
e.g. ...how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. (John 14: 5-6)
Notes: In this example, the question concerned the way, but it is answered threefold."
Heterosis or Exchange
Exchange of one accidence or part of speech for another.
e.g. 1. In many languages. Collectives such as mankind which are both male and female are deemed for grammatical purposes to be male. 2. She run all the way to the store.
Notes: Frequently used with the gender of nouns or with verb tenses.
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.
Words that are identical in spelling but different in origin and meaning
e.g. invalid, row, sewer, wound
Words that are identical with each other in pronunciation and spelling, but differing in origin and meaning.
e.g. age, reflect, arithmetic, high, report, rest
Words that are identical with each other in pronunciation, but differing in origin, spelling, and meaning.
e.g. 1. ant, aunt 2. leased, least 3. oh, owe
Hypallage or Interchange
The normal usage of two words is swapped to make a connection in meaning.
e.g. Open the day, and see if it be the window.--The Garden of Eloquence by Willard Espy
Hyperbaton or Transposition
The deliberate or accidental placing of a word out of its usual order in a sentence or dramatic departure from standard syntax (word order) for poetic effect.
Secondary Category: Grammar
e.g. Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." (E. A. Poe)
Notes: Often used with an adjective or pronoun, or by reversing noun and verb.
An intentional and often considerable exaggeration or extravagant statement to make a much lesser point. The statement is not meant to be taken literally.
e.g. 1. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away... (Matt. 5:29). 2. I could eat an ox. 3. If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times. Don't exaggerate.
Notes: The opposite is understatement.
Hypocatastasis or Implication
A comparison that is suggested or hinted at by context without being explicitly stated.
e.g. But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 6:11)
Notes: This is similar to a metaphor but without any use of the verb to be. In the example, it is doctrine that is at issue. The comparison is made by a substitution, which calls more attention to the implied comparison."
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 word that logically comes first is placed last instead.
e.g. The prisoner was charged with murder and rape.
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