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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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An overt or formal declaration that one thing is "like" or "as" another, usually using one of those two words.

Category: Comparison

e.g. Even so, husbands should love their own wives as their own bodies... (Eph. 5:28).


A transposition of the beginning and endings of words in a sentence that has strange or humorous effects. After Reverend Spooner (1844 - 1930)

Category: Meaning

e.g. Spooner allegedly once praised Her Majesty with a toast to our queer old dean. Was this extremely mad banners on his part?


One word modifies two or more other words simultaneously but must be understood differently with respect to each modified word. This creates a possibly humorous semantic incongruity.

Category: Meaning

e.g. He emptied the whiskey bottle and his mind.


A three part logical argument consisting of a major premise or general rule followed by a minor premise or instance of the precondition in the rule, and then a conclusion based on applying the major premise to its instance.

Category: Rhetoric

e.g. Rule or major premise: All humans are mortal. Minor premise: Socrates is human. Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

Synathroesmus or Enumeration

An enumeration or elaboration of the parts or qualities of a whole that has not necessarily been mentioned, but is at least implied.

Category: Meaning

e.g. He's a proud, haughty, consequential, turned-up-nosed peacock.- Charles Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby


Repeated similes in close proximity.

Category: Comparison

Secondary Category: simile

e.g. We rejoice in victory; they despair in defeat.


A type of metonymy in which a part is exchanged for the whole, an individual for an entire class or people, OR vice-versa (whole for part).

Category: Meaning

Secondary Category: exchange

e.g. 1. And we were in all 276 souls. (Acts 27:37) 2. Joe ranched nearly five hundred head. 3. All hands on deck


Refers to words that are usually different in sound and origin but are similar in meaning

Category: Meaning

e.g. Big, large, grand, tall, enormous, extended, humungous are all synonyms


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

Category: Repetition

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

Like what you see? Want to exchange links? Want to contribute original or attributed material or add one of the many figures of speech we've not got around to yet? Contact Us. If we use your material, we'll acknowledge the source. Offended by something here? Tell us why. We'll ask for a second opinion from a neutral party and if that person agrees, the item will be removed. But hey, don't take yourself too seriously. The world needs some levity.


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