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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From Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley SheridanŐs Rivals, who was noted for her blunders in the use of words.
Meiosis or Diminution
Intentionally understating or belittling something or implying it is less in significance or size, than it really is.
e.g. 1. It's only a scratch. 2. He was a citizen of no mean city (Acts 21:39)
Merismos or Distribution
An enumeration or elaboration of the parts of some whole that has previously been mentioned.
e.g. morning and evening" means the whole day
Metalepsis or Double Metonymy
Two metonymies contained in one another but with only one explicitly expressed.
e.g. I've got a black thumb.
Notes: There are at least two steps to discover the meaning. In the example, the idea of a green thumb is associated with having the ability to make things grow, but black is associated with death, so in two stages we arrive at a would-be gardener whose efforts are usually fatal to the plants."
A comparison by making a statement that one thing is another.
e.g. Benjamin is a ravenous wolf... (Gen. 49:27).
Notes: The comparison is implied by the statement of equality, not explicitly stated as in a simile."
Metonymy or Denominatio
The the use of a single characteristic to identify a more complex entity.
Secondary Category: rhetoric
e.g. 1. "In an early morning press conference, Number 10 Downing Street today saidÉ" 2. "The pen is mightier than the sword.
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