Figure of Speech

Definition of figure of speech.

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used in a non-literal way to create an effect. This effect may be rhetorical as in the deliberate arrangement of words to achieve something poetic, or imagery as in the use of language to suggest a visual picture or make an idea more vivid. Overall, figures of speech function as literary devices because of their expressive use of language. Words are used in other ways than their literal meanings or typical manner of application.

For example, Margaret Atwood utilizes figures of speech in her poem “ you fit into me ” as a means of achieving poetic meaning and creating a vivid picture for the reader.

you fit into me like a hook into an eye a fish hook an open eye

The simile in the first two lines sets forth a comparison between the way “you” fits into the poet like a hook and eye closure for perhaps a garment. This is an example of rhetorical effect in that the wording carefully achieves the idea of two things meant to connect to each other. In the second two lines, the wording is clarified by adding “fish” to “hook” and “open” to “eye,” which calls forth an unpleasant and even violent image. The poet’s descriptions of hooks and eyes are not meant literally in the poem. Yet the use of figurative language allows the poet to express two very different meanings and images that enhance the interpretation of the poem through contrast .

Types of Figures of Speech

The term  figure of speech covers a wide range of literary devices, techniques, and other forms of figurative language, a few of which include:

Personification

Understatement.

  • Alliteration
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Circumlocution

Common Examples of Figures of Speech Used in Conversation

Many people use figures of speech in conversation as a way of clarifying or emphasizing what they mean. Here are some common examples of conversational figures of speech:

Hyperbole is a figure of speech that utilizes extreme exaggeration to emphasize a certain quality or feature.

  • I have a million things to do.
  • This suitcase weighs a ton.
  • This room is an ice-box.
  • I’ll die if he doesn’t ask me on a date.
  • I’m too poor to pay attention.

Understatement is a figure of speech that invokes less emotion than would be expected in reaction to something. This downplaying of reaction is a surprise for the reader and generally has the effect of showing irony .

  • I heard she has cancer, but it’s not a big deal.
  • Joe got his dream job, so that’s not too bad.
  • Sue won the lottery, so she’s a bit excited.
  • That condemned house just needs a coat of paint.
  • The hurricane brought a couple of rain showers with it.

A paradox is a figure of speech that appears to be self-contradictory but actually reveals something truthful.

  • You have to spend money to save it.
  • What I’ve learned is that I know nothing.
  • You have to be cruel to be kind.
  • Things get worse before they get better.
  • The only rule is to ignore all rules.

A pun is a figure of speech that contains a “ play ” on words, such as using words that mean one thing to mean something else or words that sound alike in as a means of changing meaning.

  • A sleeping bull is called a bull-dozer.
  • Baseball players eat on home plates.
  • Polar bears vote at the North Poll.
  • Fish are smart because they travel in schools.
  • One bear told another that life without them would be grizzly.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that connects two opposing ideas, usually in two-word phrases, to create a contradictory effect.

  • open secret
  • Alone together
  • controlled chaos
  • pretty ugly

Common Examples of Figure of Speech in Writing

Writers also use figures of speech in their work as a means of description or developing meaning. Here are some common examples of figures of speech used in writing:

Simile is a figure of speech in which two dissimilar things are compared to each other using the terms “like” or “as.”

  • She’s as pretty as a picture.
  • I’m pleased as punch.
  • He’s strong like an ox.
  • You are sly like a fox.
  • I’m happy as a clam.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two different things without the use of the terms “like” or “as.”

  • He is a fish out of water.
  • She is a star in the sky.
  • My grandchildren are the flowers of my garden.
  • That story is music to my ears.
  • Your words are a broken record.

Euphemism is a figure of speech that refers to figurative language designed to replace words or phrases that would otherwise be considered harsh, impolite, or unpleasant.

  • Last night , Joe’s grandfather passed away (died).
  • She was starting to feel over the hill (old).
  • Young adults are curious about the birds and bees (sex).
  • I need to powder my nose (go to the bathroom).
  • Our company has decided to let you go (fire you).

Personification is a figure of speech that attributes human characteristics to something that is not human.

  • I heard the wind whistling.
  • The water danced across my window.
  • My dog is telling me to start dinner.
  • The moon is smiling at me.
  • Her alarm hummed in the background.

Writing Figure of Speech

As a literary device, figures of speech enhance the meaning of written and spoken words. In oral communication, figures of speech can clarify, enhance description, and create interesting use of language. In writing, when figures of speech are used effectively, these devices enhance the writer’s ability for description and expression so that readers have a better understanding of what is being conveyed.

It’s important that writers construct effective figures of speech so that the meaning is not lost for the reader. In other words, simple rearrangement or juxtaposition of words is not effective in the way that deliberate wording and phrasing are. For example, the hyperbole “I could eat a horse” is effective in showing great hunger by using figurative language. If a writer tried the hyperbole “I could eat a barn made of licorice,” the figurative language is ineffective and the meaning would be lost for most readers.

Here are some ways that writers benefit from incorporating figures of speech into their work:

Figure of Speech as Artistic Use of Language

Effective use of figures of speech is one of the greatest demonstrations of artistic use of language. Being able to create poetic meaning, comparisons, and expressions with these literary devices is how writers form art with words.

Figure of Speech as Entertainment for Reader

Effective figures of speech often elevate the entertainment value of a literary work for the reader. Many figures of speech invoke humor or provide a sense of irony in ways that literal expressions do not. This can create a greater sense of engagement for the reader when it comes to a literary work.

Figure of Speech as Memorable Experience for Reader

By using effective figures of speech to enhance description and meaning, writers make their works more memorable for readers as an experience. Writers can often share a difficult truth or convey a particular concept through figurative language so that the reader has a greater understanding of the material and one that lasts in memory.

Examples of Figure of Speech in Literature

Works of literature feature innumerable figures of speech that are used as literary devices. These figures of speech add meaning to literature and showcase the power and beauty of figurative language. Here are some examples of figures of speech in well-known literary works:

Example 1:  The Great Gatsby  (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.

Fitzgerald makes use of simile here as a figure of speech to compare Gatsby’s party guests to moths. The imagery used by Fitzgerald is one of delicacy and beauty, and creates an ephemeral atmosphere . However, the likening of Gatsby’s guests to moths also reinforces the idea that they are only attracted to the sensation of the parties and that they will depart without having made any true impact or connection. This simile, as a figure of speech, underscores the themes of superficiality and transience in the novel .

Example 2:  One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Both described at the same time how it was always March there and always Monday, and then they understood that José Arcadio Buendía was not as crazy as the family said, but that he was the only one who had enough lucidity to sense the truth of the fact that time also stumbled and had accidents and could therefore splinter and leave an eternalized fragment in a room.

In this passage, Garcia Marquez utilizes personification as a figure of speech. Time is personified as an entity that “stumbled” and “had accidents.” This is an effective use of figurative language in that this personification of time indicates a level of human frailty that is rarely associated with something so measured. In addition, this is effective in the novel as a figure of speech because time has a great deal of influence on the plot and characters of the story. Personified in this way, the meaning of time in the novel is enhanced to the point that it is a character in and of itself.

Example 3:  Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?

In this passage, Bradbury utilizes metaphor as a figure of speech to compare a book to a loaded gun. This is an effective literary device for this novel because, in the story, books are considered weapons of free thought and possession of them is illegal. Of course, Bradbury is only stating that a book is a loaded gun as a means of figurative, not literal meaning. This metaphor is particularly powerful because the comparison is so unlikely; books are generally not considered to be dangerous weapons. However, the comparison does have a level of logic in the context of the story in which the pursuit of knowledge is weaponized and criminalized.

Related posts:

  • Speech: “Is this a dagger which I see before me
  • Speech: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Post navigation

figure of speech in english

figure of speech in english

Figure of Speech

figure of speech in english

Figure of Speech Definition

What is a figure of speech? Here’s a quick and simple definition:

A figure of speech is a literary device in which language is used in an unusual—or "figured"—way in order to produce a stylistic effect. Figures of speech can be broken into two main groups: figures of speech that play with the ordinary meaning of words (such as metaphor , simile , and hyperbole ), and figures of speech that play with the ordinary arrangement or pattern in which words are written (such as alliteration , ellipsis , and antithesis ).

Some additional key details about figures of speech:

  • The ancient Greeks and Romans exhaustively listed, defined, and categorized figures of speech in order to better understand how to effectively use language. The names of most figures of speech derive from the original Greek or Latin.
  • Figures of speech that play with the literal meaning of words are called tropes , while figures of speech that play with the order or pattern of words are called schemes .
  • Figures of speech can take many forms. A figure of speech can involve a single word, a phrase, an omission of a word or phrase, a repetition of words or sounds, or specific sentence structures.

Figure of Speech Pronunciation

Here's how to pronounce figure of speech: fig -yer of speech

Figures of Speech vs. Figurative Language

There's a lot of confusion about the difference between the terms "figures of speech" and " figurative language ." Most of the confusion stems from the fact that different people often use "figurative language" to mean slightly different things. The two most common (and most acceptable) definitions of figurative language are:

  • Figurative language refers to any language that contains figures of speech. According to this definition, figurative language and figures of speech are not quite the same thing, but it's pretty darn close. The only difference is that figures of speech refer to each specific type of a figure of speech, while figurative language refers more generally to any language that contains any kind of figures of speech.
  • Figurative language refers to words or expressions that have non-literal meanings : This definition associates figurative language only with the category of figures of speech called tropes (which are figures of speech that play with the literal meaning of words). So according to this definition, figurative language would be any language that contains tropes, but not language that contains the figures of speech called schemes.

You might encounter people using figurative speech to mean either of the above, and it's not really possible to say which is correct. But if you know about these two different ways of relating figurative language and figures of speech, you'll be in pretty good shape.

Figures of Speech, Tropes, and Schemes

The oldest and still most common way to organize figures of speech is to split them into two main groups: tropes and schemes.

  • Tropes are figures of speech that involve a deviation from the expected and literal meaning of words.
  • Schemes are figures of speech that involve a deviation from the typical mechanics of a sentence, such as the order, pattern, or arrangement of words.

The scheme/trope classification system is by no means the only way to organize figures of speech (if you're interested, you can find all sorts of different categorization methods for figures of speech here ). But it is the most common method, and is both simple and structured enough to help you understand figures of speech.

Generally, a trope uses comparison, association, or wordplay to play with the literal meaning of words or to layer another meaning on top of a word's literal meaning. Some of the most commonly used tropes are explained briefly below, though you can get even more detail on each from its specific LitCharts entry.

  • Metaphor : A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things by stating that one thing is another thing, even though this isn't literally true. For example, if someone says "it's raining cats and dogs," this obviously doesn't literally mean what it says—it's a metaphor that makes a comparison between the weight of "cats and dogs" and heavy rain. Metaphors are tropes because their effect relies not on the mechanics of the sentence, but rather on the association created by the use of the phrase "cats and dogs" in a non-literal manner.
  • Simile : A simile, like a metaphor, makes a comparison between two unrelated things. However, instead of stating that one thing is another thing (as in metaphor), a simile states that one thing is like another thing. To stick with cats and dogs, an example of a simile would be to say "they fought like cats and dogs."
  • Oxymoron : An oxymoron pairs contradictory words in order to express new or complex meanings. In the phrase "parting is such sweet sorrow" from Romeo and Juliet , "sweet sorrow" is an oxymoron that captures the complex and simultaneous feelings of pain and pleasure associated with passionate love. Oxymorons are tropes because their effect comes from a combination of the two words that goes beyond the literal meanings of those words.
  • Hyperbole : A hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration of the truth, used to emphasize the importance of something or to create a comic effect. An example of a hyperbole is to say that a backpack "weighs a ton." No backpack literally weighs a ton, but to say "my backpack weighs ten pounds" doesn't effectively communicate how burdensome a heavy backpack feels. Once again, this is a trope because its effect comes from understanding that the words mean something different from what they literally say.

Other Common Tropes

  • Antanaclasis
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Personification
  • Periphrasis
  • Rhetorical Question

Schemes are mechanical—they're figures of speech that tinker with words, sounds, and structures (as opposed to meanings) in order to achieve an effect. Schemes can themselves be broken down in helpful ways that define the sort of tinkering they employ.

  • Repetition: Repeating words, phrases, or even sounds in a particular way.
  • Omission: Leaving out certain words or punctuation that would normally be expected.
  • Changes of word order: Shifting around words or phrases in atypical ways.
  • Balance: Creating sentences or phrases with equal parts, often through the use of identical grammatical structures.

Some of the most commonly used schemes are explained briefly below, though you can get even more detail on each from its specific LitCharts entry.

  • Alliteration : In alliteration, the same sound repeats in a group of words, such as the “b” sound in: “ B ob b rought the b ox of b ricks to the b asement.” Alliteration uses repetition to create a musical effect that helps phrases to stand out from the language around them.
  • Assonance : A scheme in which vowel sounds repeat in nearby words, such as the "ee" sound in the proverb: "the squ ea ky wh ee l gets the gr ea se." Like alliteration, assonance uses repeated sounds to create a musical effect in which words echo one another—it's a scheme because this effect is achieved through repetition of words with certain sounds, not by playing with the meaning of words.
  • Ellipsis : The deliberate omission of one or more words from a sentence because their meaning is already implied. In the example, "Should I call you, or you me?" the second clause uses ellipsis. While its implication is "or should you call me," the context of the sentence allows for the omission of "should" and "call." Ellipsis is a scheme because it involves an uncommon usage of language.
  • Parallelism : The repetition of sentence structure for emphasis and balance. This can occur in a single sentence, such as "a penny saved is a penny earned," and it can also occur over the course of a speech, poem, or other text. Parallelism is a scheme because it creates emphasis through the mechanics of sentence structure, rather than by playing with the actual meanings of words.

Other Common Schemes

  • Anadiplosis
  • Antimetabole
  • Brachylogia
  • Epanalepsis
  • Parenthesis
  • Polysyndeton

Figure of Speech Examples

Figures of speech can make language more inventive, more beautiful, more rhythmic, more memorable, and more meaningful. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that figures of speech are plentiful in all sorts of written language. The examples below show a variety of different types of figures of speech. You can see many more examples of each type at their own specific LitChart entries.

Figures of Speech Examples in Literature

Literature is riddled with figures of speech because figures of speech make language colorful and complex.

Metaphor in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca

On and on, now east now west, wound the poor thread that once had been our drive. Sometimes I thought it lost, but it appeared again, beneath a fallen tree perhaps, or struggling on the other side of a muddied ditch created by the winter rains.

In this quote from Rebecca , Daphne du Maurier refers to a washed-out road as "the poor thread." This is a metaphor —and a trope—because the writer indirectly compares the thread to the road and expects that readers will understand that "thread" is not used literally.

Parallelism in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

In the famous opening line of A Tale of Two Cities , Dickens uses parallelism —a scheme in which parts of a sentence repeat—in order to emphasize the contradictions of the time in which the book is set. Dickens has manipulated his sentence structure so that the parallel clauses emphasize the oppositional nature of his words ("it was the best of times, it was the worst of times"). The figure of speech doesn't play with the meaning of words, it emphasizes them through structure and repetition, which is why it is a scheme.

Alliteration in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark"

In this manner, s electing it as the s ymbol of his wife's liability to s in, s orrow, d ecay, and d eath, Aylmer's s ombre imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object, causing him more trouble and horror than ever Georgiana's beauty, whether of s oul or s ense, had given him delight.

This passage from " The Birthmark " uses alliteration to tie together all of the things that Georgiana's birthmark is supposed to symbolize. By using words that alliterate—"sin and sorrow" and "decay and death," for example—Hawthorne is making the reader feel that these ideas are connected, rather than simply stating that they are connected. Alliteration is a figure of speech—a scheme—because it uses the mechanics of language to emphasize meaning.

Verbal Irony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

For Brutus is an honorable man; So are they all, all honorable men,

This quote from Julius Caesar comes from Marc Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral. Antony needs to hold Brutus and his conspirators accountable for Caesar's death without contradicting the crowd's positive impression of Brutus, so Antony uses verbal irony to simultaneously please and trouble the crowd. On the surface, Antony says what the audience wants to hear (that Brutus is honorable), but it becomes clear over the course of his speech that he means the opposite of what he says (and over time he convinces the audience to believe this opposite meaning as well). This is a figure of speech (a trope) because it's based on a play on the meaning of Antony's words.

Figures of Speech Examples in Music

Figures of speech are also common in music. Schemes fit naturally with songs because both schemes and songs manipulate sound and rhythm to enhance the meanings of words. Music also uses many tropes, because using words that have meanings beyond their literal ones makes language more interesting, and it allows songwriters to create music that uses just a few words to imply a complex meaning.

Assonance and Metaphor in Rihanna's "Diamonds"

So sh ine br igh t ton igh t, you and I We're beautiful l i ke d i amonds in the sk y Eye to eye , so al i ve We're beautiful l i ke d i amonds in the sk y

Rihanna uses assonance when she repeats the " eye " sound throughout the chorus of "Diamonds." This make the words echo one another, which emphasizes the similarity between the singer, the person she's talking about, and the "diamonds in the sky" to which she's comparing them both. Assonance is a scheme because it's using the sound of words—not their meaning—to draw a parallel between different things.

Rihanna also uses the phrase "Diamonds in the sky" as a metaphor for stars. This is a trope—a phrase that means something other than what it literally says—as Rihanna obviously doesn't think that there are actually diamonds in the sky. This verse is a good example of how figures of speech can often work together and overlap. In this case, the metaphor that allows her to use "diamonds" instead of "stars" also fits into her use of assonance (because "stars" lacks the "eye" sound).

Personification in Green Day's "Good Riddance"

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go

While the first line of this song uses "a fork stuck in the road" as a metaphor for a choice, the more arresting figure of speech at work here is the personification of time in the second line. By giving "time" human characteristics—the ability to grab a person and tell them where to go—Green Day is helping listeners to make sense of the power that time has over people. This is a trope because the line doesn't mean what it literally says; instead, it's asking listeners to make a comparison between the characteristics of time and the characteristics of a person.

Anastrophe in Public Enemy's "Fight the Power"

Straight up racist that sucker was Simple and plain

In the line "Straight up racist that sucker was," Public Enemy uses anastrophe (which is the inversion of typical word order) to preserve the rhythm of the verse. Instead of saying "That sucker was straight up racist," Public Enemy chooses an odd phrasing that has one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables— " ra cist that su cker was/ Sim ple and plain ." This way, the beat falls more regularly across those two lines, which allows the rapper to make his point (that Elvis was racist) without the flow sounding awkward. Since anastrophe manipulates the order of words in order to achieve a rhythmic effect, it's a scheme.

Why Do Writers Use Figures of Speech?

Figures of speech is a category that encompasses a broad variety of literary terms, so it's difficult to give one answer to this question. Writers use different figures of speech to achieve different effects.

Schemes (figures of speech that manipulate sound, syntax, and word order) can make language more beautiful, persuasive, or memorable. Writers can use schemes to draw attention to an important passage, to create a sound that mirrors (or contrasts with) the meaning of words, or to give language a rhythm that draws the reader in. As schemes tend to work through sound and rhythm, they generally produce a visceral effect, or an effect felt in the body—broadly speaking, schemes are more sensory than intellectual.

In contrast, writers use tropes to grab the reader intellectually by adding complexity or ambiguity to an otherwise simple word or phrase. Tropes can ask the reader to make a comparison between two unlike things, they can impose human qualities on nonhumans, and they can mean the opposite of what they say. Tropes engage the intellect because the reader has to be alert to the fact that tropes do not use language at face value—a trope never means what it literally says.

All figures of speech help a writer to communicate ideas that are difficult to say in words or that are more effectively communicated non-verbally. This could be by repeating harsh consonants to create a scary atmosphere, or by using a metaphor to impose the qualities of something concrete (say, a rose) onto something more difficult to define (say, love). In general, figures of speech attempt to bring out a reader's emotion and to capture their attention by making language more colorful, surprising, and complex.

Other Helpful Figure of Speech Resources

  • Silva Rhetoricae on Figures of Speech : An excellent reference from BYU that explains the various ways that figures of speech have been categorized over history, including into schemes and tropes.
  • Silva Rhetoricae on schemes and tropes :
  • The Oxford Reference Page for Figure of Speech : A helpful definition of figures of speech in the context of the ancient study of rhetoric (did you know that the Roman rhetorician Quintillian defined "figure of speech" in 95 AD?)
  • What Are Tropes in Language? Skip to the "Distinction Between Figures and Tropes" section and read to the end—full of informative and thought-provoking discussion about tropes.
  • A YouTube video about tropes and schemes with pop culture examples.

The printed PDF version of the LitCharts literary term guide on Figure of Speech

  • PDFs for all 136 Lit Terms we cover
  • Downloads of 1923 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • Explanations and citation info for 40,556 quotes across 1923 books
  • Downloadable (PDF) line-by-line translations of every Shakespeare play
  • Alliteration
  • Climax (Figure of Speech)
  • Figurative Language
  • Parallelism
  • Verbal Irony
  • Anachronism
  • Formal Verse
  • Stream of Consciousness
  • Understatement
  • External Conflict
  • Dynamic Character
  • End-Stopped Line
  • Dramatic Irony
  • Protagonist
  • Point of View

The LitCharts.com logo.

  • Literary Terms
  • Figures of Speech
  • Definition & Examples
  • When & How to Use Figures of Speech

I. What are Figures of Speech?

A figure of speech is a word or phrase using figurative language—language that has other meaning than its normal definition. In other words, figures of speeches rely on implied or suggested meaning, rather than a dictionary definition.  We express and develop them through hundreds of different rhetorical techniques, from specific types like metaphors and similes , to more general forms like sarcasm and slang.

Figures of speech make up a huge portion of the English language, making it more creative, more expressive, and just more interesting! Many have been around for hundreds of years—some even thousands—and more are added to our language essentially every day. This article will focus on a few key forms of figures of speech, but remember, the types are nearly endless!

III. Types of Figure of Speech

There are countless figures of speech in every language, and they fall into hundreds of categories. Here, though, is a short list of some of the most common types of figure of speech:

A. Metaphor

Many common figures of speech are metaphors. That is, they use words in a manner other than their literal meaning. However, metaphors use figurative language to make comparisons between unrelated things or ideas. The “peak of her career,” for example, is a metaphor, since a career is not a literal mountain with a peak , but the metaphor represents the idea of arriving at the highest point of one’s career.

An idiom is a common phrase with a figurative meaning. Idioms are different from other figures of speech in that their figurative meanings are mostly known within a particular language, culture, or group of people. In fact, the English language alone has about 25,000 idioms. Some examples include “it’s raining cats and dogs” when it is raining hard, or “break a leg” when wishing someone good luck.

This sentence uses an idiom to make it more interesting:

There’s a supermarket and a pharmacy in the mall, so if we go there, we can kill two birds with one stone.

The idiom is a common way of saying that two tasks can be completed in the same amount of time or same place.

A proverb is a short, commonplace saying that is universally understood in today’s language and used to express general truths. “Don’t cry over spilt milk” is a popular example. Most proverbs employ metaphors (e.g. the proverb about milk isn’t  literally  about milk).

This example uses a proverb to emphasize the situation:

I know you think you’re going to sell all of those cookies, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch!

Here, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” means that you shouldn’t act like something has happened before it actually does.

A simile is a very common figure of speech that uses the words “like” and “as” to compare two things that are not related by definition. For example, “he is as tall as a mountain,” doesn’t mean he was actually 1,000 feet tall, it just means he was really tall.

This example uses a simile for comparison:

The internet is like a window to the world —you can learn about everything online!

The common phrase “window to the world” refers to a hypothetical window that lets you see the whole world from it. So, saying the internet is like a window to the world implies that it lets you see anything and everything.

E. Oxymoron

An oxymoron is when you use two words together that have contradictory meanings. Some common examples include s mall crowd, definitely possible, old news, little giant , and so on.

A metonym is a word or phrase that is used to represent something related to bigger meaning. For example, fleets are sometimes described as being “thirty sails strong,” meaning thirty (curiously, this metonym survives in some places, even when the ships in question are not sail-powered!) Similarly, the crew on board those ships may be described as “hands” rather than people.

Irony is when a word or phrase’s literal meaning is the opposite of its figurative meaning. Many times (but not always), irony is expressed with sarcasm (see Related Terms). For example, maybe you eat a really bad cookie, and then say “Wow, that was the best cookie I ever had”—of course, what you really mean is that it’s the worst cookie you ever had, but being ironic actually emphasizes just how bad it was!

IV. The Importance of Figures of Speech

In general, the purpose of a figure of speech is to lend texture and color to your writing. (This is itself a figure of speech, since figures of speech don’t actually change the colors or textures on the page!) For instance, metaphors allow you to add key details that make the writing more lively and relatable. Slang and verbal irony, on the other hand, make the writing seem much more informal and youthful (although they can have the opposite effect when misused!) Finally, other figures of speech, like idioms and proverbs, allows a writer to draw on a rich cultural tradition and express complex ideas in a short space.

V. Examples of Figures of Speech in Literature

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” (William Shakespeare, As You Like It)

This is one of the most famous metaphors ever crafted in the English language. Shakespeare uses his extended metaphor to persuade the audience of the similarities between the stage and real life. But rather than making his play seem more like life, he suggests that life is more like a play. His metaphor calls attention to the performative, creative, and fictional aspects of human life.

“Our words are b ut crumbs that fall down from the feast o f the mind.” (Khalil Gibran, Sand & Foam )

Gibran’s timeless metaphor succeeds for a number of reasons. For one thing, it is not a cliché – had Gibran said “words are just the tip of the iceberg ,” he would have been making roughly the same point, but in a much more clichéd way. But the feast of the mind is a highly original metaphor. In addition, it’s a successful double metaphor. The crumbs and the feast are two parts of the same image, but they work together rather than being “mixed” (see How to Use Figures of Speech ).

“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” (Russian Proverb)

Like many proverbs, this one draws on a simple metaphor of chasing rabbits. The rabbits can stand in for all sorts of objectives, from jobs to relationships, but the coded message is quite clear – focus your energy on a single objective, or you will likely fail. This literal statement, though, is quite dry and not terribly memorable, which shows the power of figures of speech.

VI. Examples of Figures of Speech in Pop Culture

The chorus to Sean Kingston’s Fire Burning contains a couple of figures of speech. First of all, there’s the word “shorty” used as a slang term (see Related Terms ) for a young woman. She may or may not be literally short, but the figure of speech applies either way (though it could easily be taken as belittling and derogatory). Second, Kingston sings the metaphor: “she’s fire, burning on the dance floor.” Hopefully this is a figure of speech and not a literal statement; otherwise, Kingston and everyone else in the club are in mortal danger!

“Oh, thanks! This is much better!” (Townspeople, South Park )

This is an example of irony. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, South Park satirized the government’s response to the disaster by writing about a similar disaster in South Park. In a bumbling effort to rescue people from the floods, the authorities accidentally spill oil on the flood waters and set it on fire, making the situation far more dangerous. In response, they ironically “thank” the people responsible—their meaning is obviously the opposite of their words!

Years of talks between Washington and Havana resulted in Obama’s historic visit to Cuba on March 21st. (Patreon 2016)

This is a common form of metonym in foreign policy and news media. The capital city of a country is used as a metonym for the national government. The talks, of course, are not literally between these two cities, but between the leaders and government officials of the two countries (US and Cuba).

VII. Related Terms

Literal and figurative language.

Language is generally divided into two categories: literal, and figurative. Literal language relies on the real definition of words and phrases, or their literal meanings. Figurative language, on the other hand, relies on implied meanings, which can be understood differently depending on the location or who is using it. For example, “the sky is blue” relies on the literal definition of the word “blue,” while “I am feeling blue” relies on the figurative definition. All figures of speech rely on the use of figurative language for their meaning.

Sarcasm is mocking or bitter language that we use to express different meaning than what we say; often the exact opposite. When your intended meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning, that’s irony (another type of figure of speech), which includes common phrases like “Oh, great…” when you really mean something is bad.

Slang is language that uses atypical words and phrases to express specific meanings. It varies greatly by region, demographic, and language—for example, you would find different slang in the U.S. and in the U.K. even though they are both English speaking countries. Likewise, teenagers and the elderly will use different slang terms, as would Spanish and English. Many slang terms are figures of speech. For example, “bro” could be used to describe a friend rather than an actual brother; this would be using the word as a figure of speech.

List of Terms

  • Alliteration
  • Amplification
  • Anachronism
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Antonomasia
  • APA Citation
  • Aposiopesis
  • Autobiography
  • Bildungsroman
  • Characterization
  • Circumlocution
  • Cliffhanger
  • Comic Relief
  • Connotation
  • Deus ex machina
  • Deuteragonist
  • Doppelganger
  • Double Entendre
  • Dramatic irony
  • Equivocation
  • Extended Metaphor
  • Flash-forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Intertextuality
  • Juxtaposition
  • Literary Device
  • Malapropism
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Parallelism
  • Pathetic Fallacy
  • Personification
  • Point of View
  • Polysyndeton
  • Protagonist
  • Red Herring
  • Rhetorical Device
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Science Fiction
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Synesthesia
  • Turning Point
  • Understatement
  • Urban Legend
  • Verisimilitude
  • Essay Guide
  • Cite This Website

ESL Speaking

Games + Activities to Try Out Today!

in Learn English

Top 20 Figures of Speech with Definitions and Examples

As an English learner, you probably would have heard of metaphor, personification, or simile. These are the most common types of figures of speech in English. Figures of speech play a significant role in English speaking and writing . You don’t necessarily use all types of figures of speech on a daily basis, but they act as a powerful tool in writing. In this article, we’ll go over the top 20 figures of speech that you need to know to improve your overall English language skills.

what are figures of speech

What is a Figure of Speech?

A figure of speech is a way of using language that goes beyond its literal meaning to convey a more vivid or imaginative expression. It involves the use of words or phrases in a non-literal sense to create a specific effect or emphasize a point. Figures of speech add color, creativity, and depth to language, making communication more interesting and engaging.

Importance of Figures of Speech

Figures of speech make language more interesting and expressive. They help convey emotions, create mental images, and emphasize ideas. By using metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech, speakers and writers can make their communication more vivid and memorable. These tools also add creativity to literature, contribute to cultural expressions, and play a role in humor. Overall, figures of speech enhance communication by making it more engaging, impactful, and versatile.

List of 20 Figures of Speech with Definitions and Examples

A simile is a figure of speech that compares two different things using the words “like” or “as” to highlight a shared characteristic. It helps create vivid and imaginative descriptions.

Example: As brave as a lion.

Explanation: Emphasizes the person’s courage by likening it to the well-known bravery of a lion.

2. Metaphor

A metaphor is a figure of speech that implies a comparison between two unrelated things, suggesting that they share common characteristics without using “like” or “as.” It is a way of describing one thing as if it were another to create a deeper understanding or evoke a specific image.

Example: Time is a thief.

Explanation: Time is compared to a thief to convey the idea that it steals moments or experiences.

3. Personification

Personification is a figure of speech in which human attributes or qualities are given to non-human entities or objects. It involves treating something non-human as if it has human-like characteristics.

Example: The wind whispered through the trees.

Explanation: Personifies the wind by attributing the human quality of whispering to it.

4. Hyperbole

A hyperbole is a figure of speech that involves exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally. It is used to emphasize a point, create emphasis, or add dramatic effect.

Example: I’ve told you a million times to clean your room

Explanation: The exaggeration of a million times emphasizes the speaker’s frustration or annoyance. The person didn’t actually say it a million times.

5. Alliteration

Alliteration is a series of words in a sentence or phrase that share the same initial consonant sound. It is often used to create rhythm, emphasize a particular sound, or make language more memorable.

Example: Sally sells seashells by the seashore

Explanation: The repetition of the “s” sound adds a musical quality to the sentence.

6. Assonance

Assonance is where the repetition of vowel sounds occurs within nearby words in a sentence or phrase. It is used for musicality, emphasis, or to create a specific mood.

Example: Hear the mellow wedding bells

Explanation: The repetition of the long “e” sound enhances the melodic quality of the expression.

Irony is a discrepancy between what is said and what is meant, or between appearances and reality. It often involves a twist or contradiction that may be humorous, thought-provoking, or even tragic. An example of irony is situational irony, where a fire station burns down; this situation is ironic because a place dedicated to preventing fires becomes the victim of one.

8. Oxymoron

An oxymoron combines contradictory or opposing words to create a paradoxical effect. It is used to convey complexity, irony, or a unique perspective.

Example: jumbo shrimp

Explanation: The juxtaposition of “jumbo” and “shrimp” creates a contrasting and somewhat humorous image.

9. Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech where words imitate the natural sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to. These words are often used to evoke a sensory experience and bring a vivid quality to language.

Example: buzz

Explanation: The word itself imitates the sound of a buzzing bee.

10. Euphemism

A euphemism is a mild or indirect expression used to replace a harsh or blunt phrase that might be considered impolite, offensive, or too direct. It is often employed to soften the impact of sensitive or uncomfortable topics.

Example: Using “passed away” instead of “died” to refer to someone’s death

Explanation: “Passed away” is considered more gentle and considerate than “died.”

top 20 figures of speech

As a figure of speech, a cliché refers to an expression, idea, or phrase that has been so overused that it has lost its originality and impact. It involves using a predictable or stereotyped phrase that may lack creativity.

Example: Saying “quiet as a mouse” to describe silence is a cliché

Explanation: The phrase is often used and has become a common expression.

12. Allusion

An allusion involves referencing a well-known person, place, event, or work of art within a conversation, text, or speech. It allows the speaker or writer to convey complex ideas or emotions by drawing on the associations and meanings attached to the referenced element.

Example: Saying someone has “the Midas touch.”

Explanation: It is an allusion to the mythical King Midas, known for turning everything he touched into gold, suggesting a person’s ability to turn things successful or prosperous.

13. Anaphora

Anaphora is a figure of speech where a word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences. It is used for emphasis, rhythm, and to create a powerful impact.

Example: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech

Explanation: He repeatedly begins sentences with “I have a dream” to highlight and reinforce his vision for a better future.

14. Chiasmus

Chiasmus is a figure of speech where the order of words or phrases in one clause is reversed in the following clause. This creates a balanced and often symmetrical structure, adding emphasis and style to the expression.

Example: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Explanation: The order of the terms is reversed in the second part, creating a memorable and impactful rhetorical structure.

15. Litotes

Litotes is a figure of speech that uses double negatives or understatement to emphasize an idea by negating its opposite.

Example: Not bad

Explanation: Conveys that something is good but in a subtle or understated manner.

16. Paradox

A paradox is a statement or situation that appears self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality, it illustrates a deeper truth or logic, often highlighting the complexities and nuances of a concept.

Example: Less is more

Explanation: The apparent contradiction suggests that simplicity or having less can sometimes be more effective or valuable.

17. Epistrophe

Epistrophe is a figure of speech where a word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive clauses or sentences. It is used to create emphasis, rhythmic effect, and a memorable expression.

Example: Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”

Explanation: “…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people…” The repetition of “people” occurs at the end of each phrase for emphasis.

18. Synecdoche

Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole, or vice versa. It involves substituting a specific attribute or component for the entire entity.

Example: All hands on deck

Explanation: This means that everyone (the hands) is needed to help, representing the entire person.

19. Antithesis

Antithesis is a figure of speech that involves the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas or words within parallel grammatical structures. It is used to emphasize the stark contrast between two opposing elements.

Example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

Explanation: The contrasting ideas of “best” and “worst” highlight the dual nature of the time period described.

20. Apostrophe

Apostrophe, as a figure of speech, is when a speaker addresses an absent or imaginary person, a non-living object, or an abstract concept as if it were present and capable of responding. It often involves a strong emotional expression.

Example: Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” when Mark Antony says, “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,”

Explanation: Addresses the lifeless body of Caesar as if it could hear and respond.

figures of speech definitions and examples

FAQs About Figures of Speech

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about figures of speech in English.

What are the 12 main figures of speech?

The 12 main figures of speech include simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, euphemism, oxymoron, allusion, chiasmus, and litotes.

What are the 10 types of figure of speech and their meaning?

The 10 types of figures of speech and their meanings are:

  • Simile: Comparing two unlike things using “like” or “as.”
  • Metaphor: Implies a resemblance between unrelated things without using “like” or “as.”
  • Personification: Giving human characteristics to non-human entities.
  • Hyperbole: Exaggerating statements for emphasis or effect.
  • Onomatopoeia: Words imitating natural sounds.
  • Alliteration: Repetition of initial consonant sounds in nearby words.
  • Assonance: Repetition of vowel sounds within nearby words.
  • Euphemism: Substituting a milder or indirect expression for a harsh or blunt one.
  • Oxymoron: Combining contradictory terms to create a paradoxical effect.
  • Allusion: Referencing a well-known person, place, event, or work of art.

What are 5 examples of personification?

Here are 5 examples of personification:

  • The sun smiled down on the beach.
  • The wind whispered through the trees.
  • Time flies when you’re having fun.
  • The flowers danced in the breeze.
  • The alarm clock screamed at me to wake up.

How many figures of speech are there in total?

According to Professor Rober Diyanni, “rhetoricians have catalogues more than 250 different figures of speech.” However, there are mainly 10-20 figures of speech there are commonly used.

Is my shoes are killing me a hyperbole?

“My shoes are killing me” is hyperbole because it is an exaggerated statement meant to convey extreme discomfort, not to be taken literally.

What are some examples of hyperbole?

Here are 5 examples of hyperbole:

  • I have a million things to do.
  • It’s raining cats and dogs.
  • This suitcase weighs a ton.
  • I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
  • The queue at the amusement park is a mile long.

Is idiom a figure of speech?

Yes, an idiom is a type of figure of speech. Idioms are expressions whose meanings cannot be inferred from the literal interpretation of their individual words.

More English Resources

If you want to learn more about the English language, check out the following topics.

  • Choose your Own Adventure ESL Writing Activity
  • Sequence Words: Meaning and Examples in English
  • American English Idioms and Phrases to Learn
  • 100 Common English Questions and How to Answer Them
  • Parts of Speech Activities ESL | Adverbs, Articles, Nouns, Verbs

Figures of Speech: Join the Conversation

Which figure of speech interests you the most? Choose one and try creating an example yourself. When you’re done, share yours in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

figure of speech in english

About Jackie

Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.

Jackie is the author of more than 100 books for English teachers and English learners, including 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults and 1001 English Expressions and Phrases . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

You can find her on social media at: YouTube Facebook TikTok Pinterest Instagram

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Top-Seller

39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults (Teaching ESL Conversation and...

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

More ESL Activities

different types of categories

200+ List of Categories | Different Types of Categories

Common American foods

List of Common American Foods with Pictures

Animals that start with the letter A

Animal Names: Animals that Start with the Letter A

this or that questions food edition

This or That Food Questions (WYR Food Edition)

About, contact, privacy policy.

Jackie Bolen has been talking ESL speaking since 2014 and the goal is to bring you the best recommendations for English conversation games, activities, lesson plans and more. It’s your go-to source for everything TEFL!

About and Contact for ESL Speaking .

Privacy Policy and Terms of Use .

Email: [email protected]

Address: 2436 Kelly Ave, Port Coquitlam, Canada

figure of speech in english

  • English Grammar
  • Figures Of Speech

Figures of Speech - Definition, Types and Usage with Examples

Are you as busy as a bee? Why not take some time off your busy schedule to learn how you can make your speech and writing sound and look extraordinary and engaging? There are many ways to make your language creative and interesting. One of the most effective ways to do it is to use figurative language. In this article, you will be introduced to what figures of speech are, their meaning and definition, the different types of figures of speech and how to use them effectively in sentences with examples.

figure of speech in english

Table of Contents

Definition of a Figure of Speech

Classification of figures of speech.

  • How to Use a Figure of Speech in a Sentence? – Points to Remember

Examples of Figures of Speech

Frequently asked questions on figures of speech in english, what irs a figure of speech.

A figure of speech is an expression used to make a greater effect on your reader or listener. It includes making comparisons, contrasts, associations, exaggerations and constructions. It also gives a much clearer picture of what you are trying to convey.

Let us take a look at how different dictionaries define a figure of speech to have a much better idea of what it is.

A figure of speech, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a word or phrase used in a different way from its usual meaning in order to create a particular mental picture or effect.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines a figure of speech as “an expression that uses words to mean something different from their ordinary meaning.” According to the Collins Dictionary, a figure of speech is “an expression or word that is used with a metaphorical rather than a literal meaning.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a figure of speech as “ a form of expression (such as a simile or metaphor) used to convey meaning or heighten effect often by comparing or identifying one thing with another that has a meaning or connotation familiar to the reader or listener.” According to the Macmillan Dictionary, a figure of speech is defined as “an expression in which the words are used figuratively, not in their normal literal meaning.”

Figures of Speech in English Grammar

In English grammar , there are around fifteen to twenty figures of speech. However, there are a few of them which are used more often than the others. Let us look at the most commonly used figures of speech.

  • Personification
  • Alliteration
  • Transferred Epithet

How to Use a Figure of Speech in English? – Points to Remember

You now know that a figure of speech can make your language look and sound a lot more poetical, interesting and flamboyant. However, the challenge is not about learning the different figures of speech but knowing when, where and how to use them. You cannot use it anywhere you like. Only if it is used right and where they are appropriate and necessary, will it make your language better.

Figures of speech are not meant to provide information literally, so it is not suggested that you use figurative language in professional presentations and writings like essays. Since they do not convey literal meanings, it is very important that you learn how each figure of speech can be used. What is more important is knowing what it would mean when used in a particular part of a sentence. So, the most significant point that you have to keep in mind when using figures of speech is to employ them only if they give you the desired effect and meaning.

The figures of speech can be categorized into types based on their functions when used in sentences. Accordingly, the main categories are composed of ones that:

  • Show a Relationship or Resemblance
  • Show Phonetic Resemblances and Representing Sounds
  • Show Emphasis or Unimportance

Showing a Relationship or Resemblance

This category includes figures of speech which are designed to make comparisons to show a relationship or some resemblances. Similes, metaphors, personification, euphemism, metonymy and synecdoche are the figures of speech used for this purpose.

Showing Phonetic Resemblances and Representing Sounds

This category of figures of speech include alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia. The first two figures of speech are used to create an effect by using similar sounding words or words starting with the same consonant and vowel sounds, whereas onomatopoeia includes words that are used to represent sounds.

Showing Emphasis or Unimportance

The figures of speech belonging to this category are used to provide emphasis or show how important or unimportant something is. Hyperbole, antithesis, oxymoron, irony and litotes are figures of speech that can be used for this purpose.

Here are a few examples of the different figures of speech in English grammar.

  • Simile – Rachel is as bright as the sun.
  • Metaphor – The whole world is a stage.
  • Personification – The wind whispered in my ears.
  • Apostrophe – O William, you should be living now to see all this.
  • Alliteration – Sally sold some seashells.
  • Assonance – I seem to like your little green trees.
  • Hyperbole – I am so hungry I could eat a horse.
  • Oxymoron – Euthanizing their sick pet dog was considered as an act of kind cruelty.
  • Epigram – The child is the father of man.
  • Irony – A fire station burned down yesterday.
  • Pun – Life depends upon the liver.
  • Metonymy – The Bench decided that the man is guilty.
  • Synecdoche – We need more hands to help us move this cupboard.
  • Transferred Epithet – She had a sleepless night.

What is a figure of speech?

What is the definition of a figure of speech.

A figure of speech, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a word or phrase used in a different way from its usual meaning in order to create a particular mental picture or effect.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines a figure of speech as “an expression that uses words to mean something different from their ordinary meaning.” According to the Collins Dictionary, a figure of speech is “an expression or word that is used with a metaphorical rather than a literal meaning.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a figure of speech as “ a form of expression (such as a simile or metaphor) used to convey meaning or heighten effect often by comparing or identifying one thing with another that has a meaning or connotation familiar to the reader or listener.” According to the Macmillan Dictionary, a figure of speech is defined as “an expression in which the words are used figuratively, not in their normal literal meaning.”

What are the different figures of speech in English?

Here is a list of the different figures of speech in English.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Request OTP on Voice Call

Post My Comment

figure of speech in english

  • Share Share

Register with BYJU'S & Download Free PDFs

Register with byju's & watch live videos.

Grammar Monster Logo

paper-free learning

menu

  • conjunctions
  • determiners
  • interjections
  • prepositions
  • affect vs effect
  • its vs it's
  • your vs you're
  • which vs that
  • who vs whom
  • who's vs whose
  • averse vs adverse
  • 250+ more...
  • apostrophes
  • quotation marks
  • lots more...
  • common writing errors
  • FAQs by writers
  • awkward plurals
  • ESL vocabulary lists
  • all our grammar videos
  • idioms and proverbs
  • Latin terms
  • collective nouns for animals
  • tattoo fails
  • vocabulary categories
  • most common verbs
  • top 10 irregular verbs
  • top 10 regular verbs
  • top 10 spelling rules
  • improve spelling
  • common misspellings
  • role-play scenarios
  • favo(u)rite word lists
  • multiple-choice test
  • Tetris game
  • grammar-themed memory game
  • 100s more...

Figure of Speech

What is a figure of speech.

  • Jack has a few skeletons in the cupboard .
  • You are driving me up the wall .

The Seven Most Common Figures of Speech

Table of Contents

Examples of Figures of Speech

Metaphors used as figures of speech, similes used as figures of speech, personification used as figures of speech, hyperbole used as figures of speech, idioms used as figures of speech, euphemisms used as figures of speech, metonyms used as figures of speech, a broader definition of figure of speech, why figures of speech are important.

definition of figure of speech with examples

  • This bedroom is a prison.
  • He's a real gannet.
  • He listened with a stone face.
  • We don't need dinosaurs in this company.
  • He eats like a gannet.
  • This sandwich tastes like sawdust between two doormats.
  • She sings like an angel.
  • It's like water off a duck's back.
  • The tide waits for no man.
  • My car tends to give up on long hills.
  • Summer's healing rays
  • I have a million problems.
  • We won a tonne of cash.
  • I'll die if I don't finish this crossword.
  • Be careful not to miss the boat.
  • This is the last straw.
  • You can't pull the wool over my eyes.
  • Don't sit on the fence. Say what you mean.
  • kicked the bucket = has died
  • knocked up = is pregnant
  • letting you go = you're fired
  • lost his marbles = is mad
  • Tongue = language
  • Sweat = hard work.
  • Capitol Hill = American seat of government
  • took to the bottle = took to alcohol
  • my word = my promise
  • a suit = business executive, a lawyer (typically)
  • Figure of speech: the use of words in an unusual or imaginative manner.

Alliteration

  • The plate was filled with b eautiful b uns b ursting with b erries.
  • The squ ea ky wh ee l gets the gr ea se.
  • I will pi ck or cra ck the lo ck .

Logosglyphs

  • She had eyes like pools .

Onomatopoeia

  • The NASA humans-to-Mars program is all sizzle and no steak.
  • During interphase, the protein binds to DNA with its elbow and then digs in with its fingers during mitosis. (Professor Leonie Ringrose)
  • Team, we must throw a party in our guests' mouths. Got it? Yes, chef. Yes, chef. Yes, chef. Yes, Geoff. Did someone just call me Geoff? (Comedian Chris Wells)
  • Use a figure of speech to express an idea more clearly or more interestingly.

author logo

This page was written by Craig Shrives .

Learning Resources

more actions:

This test is printable and sendable

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.

You might also like...

Share This Page

share icon

If you like Grammar Monster (or this page in particular), please link to it or share it with others. If you do, please tell us . It helps us a lot!

share icon

Create a QR Code

create QR code

Use our handy widget to create a QR code for this page...or any page.

< previous lesson

X Twitter logo

next lesson >

ESL Grammar

Figures of Speech: Essential Guide for Effective Communication

Figures of speech are essential components of language that add an extra layer of depth and nuance to communication, enhancing written and spoken content. These devices are used in various forms of literature, including novels, poems, essays, and plays, as well as in everyday conversations. By intentionally deviating from the literal meanings of words or phrases, figures of speech grant writers and speakers the ability to emphasize, clarify, and enrich their message.

There are numerous types of figures of speech, each with its unique characteristics and stylistic effects. Some common examples include metaphors, similes, hyperboles, and personification. These instruments of figurative language allow individuals to create vivid images, comparisons, and expressions, capturing the reader or listener’s imagination and conveying ideas more effectively.

Incorporating figures of speech into one’s writing or speech can make a significant impact; it can make the text more engaging, help the audience connect with the content on a deeper level, and provide an element of creativity. The skillful use of these literary devices can also set one apart as an exceptional writer or speaker, leaving a lasting impression on readers and listeners alike.

Figures of Speech The Art of Language

Types of Figures of Speech

A metaphor is a figure of speech where a word or phrase is used to represent something else, usually by suggesting a common quality or characteristic between the two. For example, “Time is a thief” is a metaphor that implies time steals moments from us, just like a thief would.

A simile is a type of metaphor that uses “like” or “as” to make a direct comparison between two unlike things. An example of a simile is, “Her smile is as warm as the sun.”

Hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses extreme exaggeration to emphasize a point or evoke humor. For example, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

Irony is a figure of speech in which the intended meaning of a word or expression is opposite to its usual or literal meaning. For instance, saying “How nice!” when something unpleasant happens.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two contradictory terms are used together, such as “deafening silence” or “jumbo shrimp.”

A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory or absurd but may express a deeper truth. An example is, “The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.”

  • Personification

Personification is a figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to non-human things or abstract concepts. For example, “The wind whispered through the trees.”

A pun is a play on words that exploits the multiple meanings or similar sounds of words, often to create a humorous effect. An example is, “I used to be a baker, but I couldn’t make enough dough.”

  • Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words or syllables in close proximity. For example, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with it, such as “the White House” to mean the US president’s administration.

Antithesis is a figure of speech in which contrasting ideas are expressed by the use of parallel structures. For instance, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

  • Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech in which words mimic the sound they represent, like “buzz” or “drip.”

Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part represents the whole or vice versa. For example, “all hands on deck” means all crew members should help.

Understatement

Understatement is a figure of speech in which something is expressed with less strength or emphasis than it deserves, often for ironic effect. For instance, “It’s just a scratch” when referring to a deep wound.

Apostrophe is a figure of speech in which a speaker directly addresses an absent person, an abstract idea, or a thing as if it were present. For example, “O death, where is thy sting?”

Litotes is a figure of speech that uses understatement by negating the opposite, often to emphasize a point. An example is, “He’s not the friendliest person” to mean the person is quite unfriendly.

A euphemism is a figure of speech that uses a mild or indirect expression in place of a harsher or more offensive one. For instance, “passed away” instead of “died.”

Anaphora is a figure of speech in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences for emphasis. For example, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets.”

Circumlocution

Circumlocution is a figure of speech in which a word or idea is expressed indirectly or in a roundabout way. For instance, “the thing you use to write with that has ink” instead of “pen.”

Assonance is the repetition of similar vowel sounds within words in close proximity, often to create a sense of harmony or rhythm. An example is, “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”

An epigram is a concise and witty statement or verse that often contains a paradox or an ironic twist. For example, “I can resist everything except temptation” by Oscar Wilde.

Pleonasm is a figure of speech in which redundant or unnecessary words are used for emphasis, such as “burning fire” or “free gift.”

Functions and Effects

Rhetorical effect.

Figures of speech serve various functions in language, including producing a rhetorical effect. By using devices such as rhetorical questions, antimetabole, and ellipsis, speakers and writers can clarify, emphasize, or embellish their message in order to create a persuasive argument or profound observation. Rhetorical questions, for instance, are a technique where questions are posed without the expectation of an answer, serving to make an implied point. Antimetabole uses repetition with a reversal of a word order to create a powerful effect, while ellipsis omits words for a purposeful, concise impact.

Emphasis and Balance

Another function of figures of speech is to create emphasis and balance within a text. This can be achieved through devices like antithesis, which places opposite ideas or things next to each other to draw out their contrast. Similarly, the use of antanaclasis can also provide balance by repeating a word with a different meaning in one sentence, adding emphasis and creating intrigue.

Wordplay and Humor

Figures of speech can bring a sense of wordplay and humor to a text, making it more engaging and memorable. Devices like puns, anthimeria, and periphrasis help create a playful and lighthearted tone while still maintaining the writer’s intended message. Puns use similar or identical words with different meanings to create humor, whereas anthimeria involves using a word from one part of speech as another for a witty effect. Periphrasis, on the other hand, is a figurative device that uses more words than necessary to describe something, often for humorous or exaggerated effect.

Emotional and Imaginative Impact

Lastly, figures of speech can also evoke emotional and imaginative responses from audiences. By using vivid language, metaphors, similes, and other figurative techniques, writers and speakers can form mental pictures that enhance a reader or listener’s understanding of a concept or idea. This capacity to create powerful imagery and elicit strong emotions makes figures of speech essential tools in the art of communication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common examples of figures of speech?

Some common examples of figures of speech include similes, metaphors, alliteration, personification, and hyperbole. These figures are often used in literature, poetry, and everyday language to create vivid and memorable expressions.

How many types of figures of speech exist?

There are numerous types of figures of speech, with some sources suggesting over 100 different types. However, it’s essential to be familiar with a handful of commonly used figures of speech to improve one’s reading and writing skills.

What are the four most frequently used figures?

The four most frequently used figures of speech are similes, metaphors, alliteration, and personification. Similes compare two things using “like” or “as,” metaphors make direct comparisons between different objects, alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds, and personification attributes human qualities to non-human entities.

Can you provide examples of 10 different figures of speech?

  • Simile : Her smile was as bright as the sun.
  • Metaphor : Time is a thief.
  • Alliteration : Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • Personification : The wind whispered through the trees.
  • Hyperbole : He’s as strong as an ox.
  • Onomatopoeia : The bees buzzed in the flowers.
  • Oxymoron : The silence was deafening.
  • Pun : Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
  • Anaphora : We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets.
  • Irony : The fire station burned down.

What are the 8 main types of figures?

The 8 main types of figures of speech are similes, metaphors, alliteration, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, oxymorons, and puns. These figures of speech each serve different purposes and are used in various contexts to convey vivid imagery and meaning.

Which figures of speech are found in a top 20 list?

In a top 20 list of figures of speech, one might find:

  • Anadiplosis
  • Anachronism

These figures of speech are frequently used in literature, speeches, and everyday language to enhance the meaning and impact of language.

Related Posts:

Metaphor Painting Pictures with Words

The Fluent Life

Press ESC to close

Figure of Speech in English Grammar with Examples

Mastering Figure of Speech in English Grammar with Examples

Banner

Figures of speech, the vibrant tools of expression, add flair and depth to language, transforming mundane words into captivating art. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of figure of speech in English grammar , exploring various types and providing practical examples to illustrate their usage. Whether you’re a wordsmith or just starting to explore the beauty of language, understanding figures of speech elevates your ability to communicate vividly.

Here Are Some Figure of Speech in English Grammar Examples

Simile: painting pictures with comparisons.

A. Defining Simile: An understanding simile is a figure of speech that compares two things using “like” or “as.” Example: Her smile was like sunshine on a cloudy day.

B. Adding Descriptive Nuance: Enhancing descriptions by incorporating similes for vivid imagery. Example: The river flowed as smoothly as silk through the valley.

Also Read :  20 Top Most Common Slang Words Used Everyday with Examples

Metaphor: Crafting Symbolic Language

A. Embracing Metaphor: Exploring metaphor, a figure of speech that implies a direct comparison, suggests that one thing is another. Example: His words were a torrent of emotion.

B. Symbolism in Metaphor: Using metaphor to convey deeper meanings and symbolism. Example: Time is a relentless thief stealing moments from our lives.

Personification: Giving Life to Inanimate Objects

A. Personifying Objects and Ideas: Breathing life into inanimate objects or abstract concepts through personification. Example: The wind whispered secrets through the trees.

B. Evoking Emotion With Personification: Creating emotional connections by attributing human qualities to non-human entities. Example: The stars danced in the night sky.

Hyperbole: Exaggeration for Emphasis

A. Embracing Hyperbole: Using hyperbole, and intentional exaggeration, for emphasis and dramatic effect. Example: I’ve told you a million times to clean your room!

B. Adding Humor with Hyperbole: Injecting humor into language by amplifying situations with hyperbole. Example: This suitcase weighs a ton!

Alliteration: Crafting Catchy Sound Patterns

A. Grasping Alliteration: Exploring alliteration, the repetition of initial consonant sounds in closely positioned words. Example: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

B. Enhancing Rhythm and Sound: Utilizing alliteration to create pleasing rhythms and memorable sound patterns. Example: Silky smooth, the silver stream silently slid.

Onomatopoeia: Mimicking Sounds in Words

A. Embodying Sounds with Onomatopoeia: Using onomatopoeia, words that imitate the sounds they represent, to bring scenes to life. Example: The bees buzzed around the blooming flowers.

B. Heightening Sensory Experience: Enhancing sensory experiences by incorporating onomatopoeic expressions. Example: The fire crackled, and the leaves rustled in the whispering wind.

Irony: Expressing the Unexpected

A. Unraveling Irony: Understanding irony, where the intended meaning is opposite to the literal meaning. Example: The firefighter’s house burned down during Fire Prevention Week.

B. Conveying Layers of Meaning: Adding depth to communication by employing irony to convey nuanced messages. Example: The irony of his diet was that he gained weight while eating “light” products.

Oxymoron: Merging Contradictions for Effect

A. Defining Oxymoron: Exploring oxymoron, a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. Example: The silence was a deafening roar.

B. Provoking Thought with Oxymorons: We are using oxymorons to create thought-provoking and paradoxical statements. Example: His act of kindness was a cruel mercy.

Also Read :  20 Top Common English Grammar Used Everyday with Examples

At The Fluent Life , we recognize the profound impact of figures of speech on English grammar. Through mastering figures of speech, our members hone their language skills, enabling them to convey ideas with clarity and creativity. Join us on a journey where words transcend mere sentences and communication becomes an expression of artistry.  Join us at The Fluent Life as we embrace the artistry of figures of speech and unlock the full potential of expression.

A. Figures of Speech as Artistic Tools: Recognizing figures of speech as artistic tools that enrich language and communication. Example: Figures of speech, like a palette of colors, paint vibrant landscapes with words.

B. Encouragement for Creative Expression: Encouraging writers to embrace and experiment with figures of speech, unlocking new dimensions of creativity and expression.

5 Unique FAQs On Figure of Speech

Q.1: Can I use multiple figures of speech in one sentence? A: While it’s possible, using too many figures of speech in a single sentence can be overwhelming. Aim for balance and clarity.

Q.2: Are figures of speech only for creative writing? A: No, figures of speech can enhance various forms of communication, including essays, speeches, and even everyday conversation.

Q.3: How can I identify figures of speech in literature? A: Look for language beyond literal meaning, incorporating comparisons, symbolism, or exaggeration. Figurative language often adds layers to the text.

Q.4: Can figures of speech be cultural or language-specific? A: Yes, some figures of speech may be more prevalent in specific cultures or languages. However, many are universal and widely understood.

Q.5: Are there situations where figures of speech should be avoided? A: While figures of speech can add richness, they should be used judiciously in formal or technical writing. Ensure they enhance rather than obscure the intended meaning.

Also Read :  Top 100 Commonly Used A to Z Phrasal Verbs for English Fluency

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Share Article:

You might also like

Mastering Adverbs in English Grammar with Examples

Mastering Adverbs in English Grammar with Examples

Adjectives in English Grammar with Examples

Exploring Adjectives in English Grammar with Examples

Unleashing Verbs in English Grammar with Examples

Unleashing Verbs in English Grammar with Examples

Other stories, exploring savage slang full form with examples, exploring parts of speech in english grammar with examples.

Writing Explained

What is Figure of Speech? Definition, Examples of Figures of Speech

Home » The Writer’s Dictionary » What is Figure of Speech? Definition, Examples of Figures of Speech

Figure of speech definition: Figure of speech is the use of language to add richness to the literal meaning of words.

Common Figures of Speech

Here are some common figures of speech:

Metaphor : A metaphor is the comparison of two unlike things without the use of like or as.

  • In this sentence, we have the metaphor “boy was a wild animal”. The boy is being compared to a wild animal because of his behavior in the store.

Simile : A simile is the comparison between two unlike things using such words as like, as, or so.

  • In this sentence, we have the simile “boy was like a ninja”. The young boy’s stealthy behavior is being compared to that of a ninja. It is a simile rather than a metaphor because the word “like” was included.

Hyperbole : A hyperbole is an over exaggeration.

  • In this example, the hyperbole is the over exaggeration of hunger that Ashley has after her day of swimming, for she is not literally as hungry as a hippo.

Personification : Personification is when human traits are given to anything nonhuman.

  • Here, the sun is being given the human trait of smiling.

The Function of Figures of Speech

The purpose of using figures of speech is to add richness to writing that will have an effect on the reader. By using these comparisons, it allows the reader to have a greater understanding and ability to imagine the situations being described in the writing.

How Figures of Speech are Used in Literature

Here are some examples of figures of speech in literature:

In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet , he uses a metaphor in the famous balcony scene. Romeo exclaims, “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? / It is the east and Juliet is the sun”.

  • “Juliet is the sun” = metaphor
  • This metaphor is used to emphasis the overwhelming brightness of Juliet’s beauty.

In James Hurst’s short story The Scarlet Ibis , he uses a simile to set the somber mood at the beginning of the story, “the oriole nest in the elm was untenanted and rocked back and forth like an empty cradle”.

  • “Oriole nest…rocked back and forth like an empty cradle” = simile
  • This simile is used to create a somber mood by comparing the movement of the nest to that of an empty cradle, which has a negative connotation associated with it.

The Scarlet Ibis also includes examples of hyperbole . Hurst writes, “We danced together quite well until she came down on my big toe with her brogans, hurting me so badly I thought I was crippled for life”.

  • “hurting me so badly I thought I was crippled for life” = hyperbole
  • This hyperbole is used to exaggerate the pain felt by the young child when his aunt stepped on his toe while dancing.

In Eric Litwin’s Pete the Cat series, personification is used with the starring character, Pete. In the book I Love My White Shoes, he writes, “Did Pete cry? Goodness, no! He kept walking along and singing his song”.

  • In this example, a cat is given human traits such as singing. Many children’s book employ personification due to the inclusion of nonhuman characters.

Summary: What Does Figure of Speech Mean?

Define figure of speech mean? In summation, figures of speech are used to add richness and imagery to a work of literature in order to achieve an effect for the reader.

Final example,

In Pat Mora’s poem “Old Snake”, it states “Leave / those doubts and hurts / buzzing like flies in your ears”.

  • “doubts and hurts / buzzing like flies in your ears” = simile

This simile is used to compare the left behind worries to just a buzz in the ear like a fly. A comparison to a fly is used because flies are often seen as an annoyance just like having constant doubt or worry.

Figures of Speech

A picture is worth a thousand words.

We use figures of speech in "figurative language" to add colour and interest, and to awaken the imagination. Figurative language is everywhere, from classical works like Shakespeare or the Bible, to everyday speech, pop music and television commercials. It makes the reader or listener use their imagination and understand much more than the plain words.

Figurative language is the opposite of literal language. Literal language means exactly what it says. Figurative language means something different to (and usually more than) what it says on the surface:

  • He ran fast . (literal)
  • He ran like the wind . (figurative)

In the above example "like the wind" is a figure of speech (in this case, a simile). It is important to recognize the difference between literal and figurative language. There are many figures of speech that are commonly used and which you can learn by heart. At other times, writers and speakers may invent their own figures of speech. If you do not recognize them as figures of speech and think that they are literal, you will find it difficult to understand the language.

In this lesson we look at four common types of figure of speech:

Simile A figure of speech that says that one thing is like another different thing

Metaphor A figure of speech that says that one thing is another different thing

Hyperbole A figure of speech that uses an exaggerated or extravagant statement to create a strong emotional response

Oxymoron A figure of speech that deliberately uses two contradictory ideas

50 Figures of Speech (Types & Examples)

What are figures of speech.

Figures of speech are creative rhetorical devices that go beyond literal meaning. They make the language more colorful and impactful. These figures of speech allow the writers to convey ideas and imagery in an imaginative and unconventional way through comparisons, associations and plays on words. Some common examples include similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, oxymoron’s and alliteration. Skillful use of rhetorical devices brings vividness and flair to expression. These figures of speech make communication more engaging, memorable and expressive.

Importance of Figures of Speech

The figures of speech are important rhetorical device, that writers and speakers employ to enhance the power and impact of their language. The use of creative comparisons and vivid imagery engage the audience in memorable ways that literal language often lacks.

Figures of speech strengthen communication by using creative language to emphasize ideas in a more compelling way than plain speech alone. Their artful deviations from literal meaning make key points more memorable and impactful for audiences. Used strategically or just to infuse writing with imaginative flair, rhetorical devices ensure ideas resonate longer in the minds of the readers and listeners. In essence, by elevating functional language to an art form through their nuanced turns of phrase, figures of speech make messages more persuasive, engaging and unforgettable.

How to Find Figures of Speech in writing?

For finding figures of speech in the writing, it is necessary to look for words or phrases that are used in a non-literal way.

For example, if someone says ‘my heart is breaking’, he is using a metaphor to describe his emotions.

50 Figures Of Speech With Examples

Here is a list of 50 figures of speech used in English literature and daily communication:

1- Alliteration

Repetition of the same initial letter or sound in closely connected words. They could be uttered within a phrase of sentences, starting with the same sound of consonants but not necessarily being the same letter. Some examples of alliteration are:

  • Peter’s pink pig
  • She sells seashells
  • Big bad wolf
  • Sally sells seashells by the seashore

Example in literature

“the raven” by edgar allan poe.

“Once upon a midnight dreary.”

In the said context, the sound of ‘m ‘ has been alliterated with ‘midnight ‘ and ‘dreary’. The repetition of consonant sound creates a musical and effect. It enhances the gloomy atmosphere, which the write is trying to convey in the poem.

2- Anaphora

It is a type of amplification, wherein the words or phrases are reiterated in every clause, sentence and line. The word is used to stress an idea in a piece of writing or it serves as a connector.

  • I came, I saw, I conquered.
  • To be or not to be, that is the question.
  • United we stand, divided we fall.

“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Dickens has used anaphora by repeating the phrase ‘it was’ at the beginning of each successive clause. He emphasizes the contrasting nature of the time period. The practice of anaphora is used to establish a unique mood and setting that stick in people’s minds to capture it as a whole.

3- Antithesis

It is a literary device, which is used to juxtapose the contrasting ideas in balanced phrases. It highlights opposition through parallel grammatical structures.

  • The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • You win some, you lose some.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but out of sight is out of mind.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

“ All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost”

The first line ‘All that is gold does not glitter’ sets up an expectation. The second line ‘Not all those who wander are lost’ subverts it with the opposite proposition. This creates an antithetical parallel structure that emphasizes the contrast between appearances/expectations and realities. Things are not always as they seem on the surface.

4- Apostrophe

A direct address to an absent or dead person, or to an object, quality, or idea. It is a rhetorical device used to engage or emotionally influence the audience.

  • Stupid phone, why aren’t you charging?
  • Come on feet, you can make it up the stairs!
  • Thank you coffee for the caffeine boost.

“Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

“O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”

The rhetorical device gives an emotional outlet to Juliet and draws the audience deeper into her perspective. It underscores the tragedy of their star-crossed love and opposing families through Juliet’s anguished pleas. This example demonstrates how apostrophe can powerfully convey emotion and engagement when used skillfully in literary works like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It intensifies reader experience of the characters and themes.

5- Assonance

The repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words. It adds musicality and emphasis to speech or writing. Assonance creates cadences that can make utterances more memorable, soothing or impactful.

  • Pick a pink peach please.
  • Slowly she strode down the street.
  • Do you need anything else?

“The King’s English” by Kingsley Amis

“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”

This famous tongue twister uses assonance extensively through the repetition of the “ai” sound in words like “rain”, “Spain”, “mainly”. The assonance highlights the difficulty in pronouncing the phrase quickly due to all the similar vowel sounds falling in close succession. It makes the sentence rhythmically challenging to say.

6- Allusion

A reference to a well-known person, place, event or work of art. It relies on the readers or listener’s background knowledge and cultural literacy. They allow speakers to colorfully draw on cultural knowledge without exposition.

  • That plan is doomed like the Titanic.
  • Don’t pull a Houdini on me!
  • She’s no Mother Teresa.

“The American Crisis” by Thomas Paine

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

This well-crafted allusion would resonate powerfully with educated readers, which reminds them of the challenges ahead in their fight for independence using a culturally significant reference. It illustrates how allusions can add profound layers of inferred meaning in literature by drawing on intertextual connections in an economy of words.

Figures of Speech with Examples

7- Anachronism

Something out of its normal time. It involves mentioning something from a different time period in a way that distorts the actual chronology.

  • I was just watching some Netflix after work yesterday.
  • Let me check my iPhone for the time.
  • I’ll email you the details later today.

“Ulysses” by Alfred Tennyson

 “I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees.”

Tennyson imagines the thoughts and desires of the Homeric hero Ulysses in his later years after returning home from the Trojan War. However, the language and ideas Tennyson attributes to Ulysses are anachronistic, as they reflect Victorian England in the 19th century rather than ancient Greece.

8- Anastrophe

The inversion of the usual order of words. It involves rearranging the structure of words or phrases for impact. It creates variety from the standard structures we expect. 

  • Fed up am I with this traffic!
  • Off to work go I.
  • In the kitchen, what’s that noise?

“Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds, Towards Phoebus’ lodging! Such a wagoner As Phaëton would whip you to the west And bring in cloudy night immediately.”

Romeo uses anastrophe by rearranging the expected word order of ‘fiery-footed steeds’ to emphasize the speed and passion of the horses as they carry the sun across the sky. While inverting ‘fiery-footed steeds’ to ‘you fiery-footed steeds’, the writer draws attention to the horses through anastrophe and builds dramatic tension as Romeo anxiously awaits nightfall.

9- Antagonym

A word that can have opposite meanings. Here are the common antagonym examples:

  • Sanction – This word can mean “to approve” or “to penalize.” Example A: “The manager sanctioned the purchase of new computers.” (Approved) Example B: “The UN threatened sanctions against the hostile nation.” (Penalized)
  • Oversight – This word refers to an unintentional failure to notice something, or the act of overseeing/supervising. Example A: “The typo was due to an oversight by the editor.” (Failure to notice) Example B: “There will be governmental oversight of the program.” (Supervision)
  • Left – This word indicates either “departed” or “remaining.” Example A: “Most of the cake was eaten, but some was left.” (Remaining) Example B: “The traveler left early in the morning.” (Departed)

10- Antimetabole

Antimetabole involves the repetition of a phrase or statement in a reversed sequence. 

Example in “Frankenstein” by Shelley

“I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.”

The above excerpt illustrates the antimetabole literary device through a reversed order of repetition including “and trampled on, and kicked, and spurned at”. This shows how much Frankenstein’s monster is being mistreated and rejected by society.

11- Antonomasia

Antonomasia is the act of replacing the name of an individual with another word/phrase. This word simply represents aspects of character of a person. It is also used to highlight similarity or relation between two people or item.

  • The term calling someone who is very organized “a Monica” in relation to the well manicured Monica Geller character from friends.
  • Calling someone cunning, crafty and shrewd as Judas, in reference to the Judas Iscariot of the Bible, who beated Jesus.
  • Suggesting that an innocent, mischievous troublesome child is a “Dennis the Menace”.

12- Asyndeton

The literary device of Asyndeton involves leaving out connective words like ‘and’ or ‘or’ among other conjunctions when a number of connected clauses follow one preceding clause. This allows for faster movement as well as highlights the importance of it.

  • Essays must be submitted on time.
  • The house was ready for living with the furniture in it, carpets laid on the floor, and curtains drawn.

13- Anadiplosis 

This is the repetition of the last word of a preceding clause at the beginning of the next one.

  • Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
  • The environment, it is life and therefore we have to save it.
  • I did everything I could. My best efforts were insufficient.
  • You entered my world. My world has changed forever.

14- Chiasmus

Chiasmus is a rhetorical device in which two or more clauses are balanced against each other by the reversal of structures in order to produce a mirror effect.

  • Fair is foul, and foul is fair. (Shakespeare’s Macbeth)
  • You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget. (Cormac McCarthy, The Road)
  • Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. (John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address)

15- Catachresis

Catachresis is the use of a word in an incorrect way or in the wrong context for rhetorical effect.

  • Using ‘blanket of snow’ to describe snow covering the ground, even though blankets do not look like snow.
  • Referring to a loud noise as ‘deafening silence’ despite the contradiction between deafening and silence.
  • Describing someone’s smile as ‘infectious’ even though smiles do not spread disease like an infection.

The climax refers to the most tense and dramatic part of the narrative in works of literature. This is the climax when tension attains its zenith and the conclusion of the tale begins. Following this is a resolution stage whereby the major conflicts in the story are solved and the fate of characters is ascertained. A fundamental part of structure that also helps generate tension in the story and hold on the attention of the reader or viewer.

Types of Climax

Emotional Climax: The moment comes when a subject becomes too frustrated and bursts out with an enormous amount of emotion leading to an unexpected ending.

Plot Climax: This is where the climax of the story takes place, where the conflict culminates, and the starting point for the resolution.

Social Climax: It happens when someone or some people climb to a top of social position in most cases by planned strategy.

17- Euphemism

A mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt.

  • Passed away instead of died
  • Let go instead of fired
  • Challenged instead of disabled

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

“Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict,” said Atticus. “She took it as a pain-killer for years. The doctor put her on it. She’d have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony, but she was too contrary—”

Here, words ‘addict and ‘pain killer’ have been used instead of direct terms like, ‘drug habit’ or ‘opiate addiction’. This may have been considered crude or inappropriate at the time. This allows the author to discuss Mrs. Dubose’s situation in a more genteel and less shocking way. He uses the euphemistic language rather than direct terminology.

18- Ellipsis

The omission of words necessary for complete grammatical construction but understood in the context.

  • The European soldiers killed six of the remaining villagers, the American soldiers, two.

Example in Literature

“emma” by jane austen.

“He is very plain, undoubtedly—remarkably plain: but that is nothing compared with his entire want of gentility. I had no right to expect much, and I did not expect much; but I had no idea that he could be so very clownish, so totally without air. I had imagined him, I confess, a degree or two nearer gentility.”

Austen uses an ellipsis here when Harriet says “I had imagined him…a degree or two nearer gentility.” Harriet doesn’t finish her thought. The ellipsis shows that her words trail off hinting that she is uncomfortable admitting she hoped Mr. Martin would be more refined. This allows Austen to suggest Harriet’s embarrassment, without having her directly spell it out.

19- Enjambment

The continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet, or stanza in poetry.

“Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove.”

The writer employs the literary device of enjambment in the foresaid lines. Rather than pausing at the end of the line, the sentence continues into the next one without punctuation. This creates a flowing and lyrical feeling that mirrors the notion of love not being impeded.

20- Epistrophe

The repetition of a word at the end of successive clauses or sentences.

  • Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth. (Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address)
  • 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’s speech to the House of Commons)

“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.”

The use of epistrophe has been observed in “I have a dream” at the start of several different phrases. The repetitive nature of this technique underscores his idea about the future, and it helps make his words more poignant, inspiring and memorable. Every time King says “I have a dream” he refers to his wish that there should be harmony and equality in the United States. Anaphora (repeated phrase leading to clauses) of this aspirational sentence provides rhetorical force and rhythm of the speech to crescendo at emotional climax where King’s dreams of the nation are presented.

21- Euphony

The use of phrases and words that are noted for their mellifluousness and ease in speaking.

  • The sounds of children’s laughter carried melodiously through the warm summer air.
  • The babbling brook babbled pleasantly as it wound its way through the verdant meadow.

“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens

The lilting euphony of the writing style matches Pip’s hopeful expectations as he journeys to Miss Havisham’s house for the first time:

“The mist was heavier yet when I got out upon the marshes, so that instead of my running at everything, everything seemed to run at me. This was very disagreeable to a guilty mind. The gates and dykes and banks came bursting at me through the mist, as if they cried as plainly as could be, ‘A boy with somebody else’s pork pie! Stop him!’”

The consonance and assonance create a musical, flowing quality to mimic Pip’s eager and optimistic young imagination, which emphasizes the theme of hope in the novel.

22- Epizeuxis 

The repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession, typically within the same sentence, for vehemence or emphasis.

  • Alone, alone, all, all alone, Alone on a wide, wide sea.
  • Fight, fight for your rights and your freedom!

“Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare

Mark Antony repeats the words in his famous speech to emphasize his points and rouse the crowd:

“For Brutus is an honorable man; So are they all honorable men— Come I to speak at Caesar’s funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me.”

The repetition of words ‘honorable’ and subsequently ‘faithful’ create stress qua the qualities of Caesar, while planting seeds of doubt through his epizeuxis. The repetition mimics the persuasive rhythm of a skillful orator whipping the crowds into an emotional frenzy over Caesar’s death.

23- Hyperbole

Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement or claim that is not meant to be taken literally, but instead used as a way to emphasize a point or evoke strong feelings.

  • I’ve told you a million times to clean your room!
  • The wait to get in was endless.

“Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare

“For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”

When Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet, he goes overboard describing how he has never seen someone so beautiful before. He is basically exaggerating to show just how head-over-heels in love with her he is already. This total exaggeration about her sets things up for how their whole intense, doomed relationship story will go from here.

24- Hendiadys 

A figure of speech in which a single complex idea is expressed by two words connected with “and” rather than a noun and adjective.

  • We listened to the poet’s wise and ancient words.
  • The guests ate and drank until late in the evening.

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Her voice is full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it.”

Here the words ‘jingle’ and ‘cymbals song’ express the musical quality of Daisy’s voice more vividly than just calling it ‘musical voice’. The pairing of synonymous nouns intensifies the quality being described.

25- Hypallage 

A figure of speech in which the syntactic relation between two terms is reversed. It is often used for poetic effect.

  • “The heavy foot of time” instead of “the footfalls of heavy time”.
  • The hungry stomach waited impatiently to be fed.

“Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich

“The windswept plain gave no shelter to wandering cattle, and slanted wood planks of abandoned farmhouse doors banged in aimless gusts.”

The way Erdrich describes the wind is real neat. Instead of just saying the wind was blowing hard or whatever, she says the plain itself was windswept.

26- Innuendo

An indirect or subtle observation about a thing or person. It is generally critical, disparaging, or salacious in nature.

  • Some say he’s not unfamiliar with the inside of a jail cell.
  • The politician claimed to stand for family values, but his record showed otherwise.

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

“Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?” said Miss Bingley; “will she be as tall as I am?” “I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s height, or rather taller.”

Jane Austen hints at some sexual stuff going on between Lizzy Bennet and Miss Bingley about Darcy. When they’re talking about how tall each of them are, it seems like they’re also arguing about who’s gonna be the one in charge in their whole complicated relationship with Darcy. Like the one who stands tallest gets to boss around the other two and so I think Austen’s pretty slyly starting some drama here with that suggestive comparison of their heights.

Special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.

  • Please reboot your PC to complete the installation.
  • The computer technicians talked about RAM, CPUs, and SSDs when upgrading the office devices.

“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

“Takes a good mechanic to keep ‘em rollin’. Know how a differential works?”

The talk about car stuff like the differential shows how Al uses a bunch of mechanic words. Steinbeck makes it clear what Al does for a living just through the way he talks, without having to straight up say he’s a mechanic. Using all those gearhead terms makes Al seem more like a real person instead of just a character, and lets you get to know him better since you can see stuff about his job.

27- Juxtaposition

The fact of placing two or more things side by side, often with the intent of comparing or contrasting them.

  • Beauty and decay.
  • The lavish wedding reception was held in the ballroom, while homeless people searched for food in the alley behind the hotel.

“And yet he did it with what composure and concentration we have seen … accomplishing the task he set himself, both in the poor workshop and in the rich drawing-room.”

Dickens tries to get readers to really grasp the huge change in Dr. Manette’s life by showing the difference between his nice old job as a fancy doctor with a swanky office and his current gig cobbling shoes together in a dingy workshop and it’s like night and day – he went from living’ large to just scrapping by. It really makes you think about how quick things can turn around, don’t it?

Expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite.

  • A plumber’s house always has leaking taps.
  • A traffic jam occurred on the highway on the day I left extra early to avoid being late.

 “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

“There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.”

Mrs. Mallard is elated on hearing that her husband has passed away as she feels liberate from the union. Unfortunately, in a bitter irony of fate, she is overcome by shock following arrival from nowhere of Mr. Mallard who appears very much alive. Here, Chopin uses situational irony that inverts the scenario that Mrs. Mallard and the readers are accustomed to. This, in essence, explains why marriage was quite oppressing to her.

29- Litotes

An understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite.

  • He’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
  • The hike through the canyon was no walk in the park.

“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë

Nelly criticizes Heathcliff with litotes after he returns following Catherine’s death:

“He’s not a rough diamond – a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man.”

Bronté says heathcliff is no rough diamond but fierce and pitiless wolflike man with an attempt to understate the extent of Nelly’s hatred towards him. This makes the character of Heathcliff even crueler in an accentuated manner through negation instead of direct condemnation.

30- Metaphor

A metaphor makes a direct comparison between two unlike things, stating that one thing is the other.

  • My old car was a dinosaur – old and decrepit.
  • The assignment was a breeze – extremely easy.

“As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven Would through the airy region stream so bright.”

He compares Juliet’s eyes to stars. Romeo says her eyes would shine as brightly in the sky as daylight does to a lamp. Shakespeare uses metaphor to elevate Juliet’s beauty to celestial heights.

31- Metonymy

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used to represent something else with which it is closely associated or related. It consists in replacing the name of one object of the other similar object.

  • The pen is mightier than the sword.
  • The White House issued a statement.

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

 In this line, “ears” is used to represent the attention or audience of the people.

32- Malapropism

Malapropism is an error of language which involves one word being wrongly exchanged for another closely sounding word having the opposite meaning which results into nonsense or some funny statement.

  • He is the pineapple of politeness.
  • I’m on a seafood diet. I see food, and I eat it.

“Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare

“Comparisons are odorous.”

Here, Dogberry mistakenly uses “odorous” instead of “odious,” resulting in a humorous misuse of the word.

33- Meiosis

A euphemistic figure of speech that intentionally understates something or implies that it is lesser in significance or size.

  • I’m somewhat tired after completing a marathon.
  • It’s just a flesh wound.

“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

This reduces the focus on his intentionality in order to build up a strong empathic sense. The above instances go to show that Meiosis can be employed to underrate or reduce a matter for comic effect or emphasis.

34- Onomatopoeia

The use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions to which they refer.

  • “Buzz” – the word imitates the sound of a bee.
  • “Splash” – the word resembles the sound of something hitting or entering water.

“The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe

“How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night!”

The word “tinkle” imitates the sound of bells ringing, which provides a sensory experience for the reader. These examples illustrate how Onomatopoeia is used to bring aural imagery to written language, evoking sounds through words.

35- Oxymoron

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms to create a paradoxical effect. It is usually used to create a dramatic or thought provoking impact in literature, poetry or everyday language.

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

Here, the combination of ‘sweet’ and ‘sorrow’ creates the oxymoronic expression. I hope this clarifies the concept of an oxymoron and provides relevant examples.

36- Paradox

A statement that seems self-contradictory or nonsensical but in reality expresses a possible truth.

“1984” by George Orwell

“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”

The juxtaposition of contradictory concepts forms a paradox. It reflects the twisted logic of the dystopian society depicted in the novel.

37- Parallelism

The use of components in a sentence that are grammatically the same or similar in their construction, sound, meaning or meter.

  • To be, or not to be: that is the question. (Hamlet)
  • The midnight’s all a-glimmer, and ’tis oil midnight. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

“The evening ailed her, and she grew shimmeringly and inconsolably pale. She was disturbed.”

In the aforesaid example, ‘ailed her’ and ‘grew shimmeringly and inconsolably pale. She was disturbed’ are parallel in structure and meaning. The sentence creates a strong image of the protagonist emotional state through repetition of sentence structure and synonyms.

38- Personification

Attributing human characteristics to nonhuman things.

  • The sun smiled on the meadow.
  • The wind whispered through the trees.
  • The clock struck midnight.

See also: Anthropomorphism vs Personification

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

“The hills were alive with the sound of music.” 

In the aforesaid example, personification is used to describe the tranquil hills surrounding the setting as if the hills themselves emanated sound. This poetic device makes the scene vivid and lively, which allows the readers or viewers to visualize the environment more clearly.

A pun refers to a type of a joke that uses one word but with multiple meanings either deliberately or unintentionally.

  • I’m reading a book on anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down!
  • She died doing what she loved, spreading satin.

“Hamlet” by Shakespeare

“To be, or not to be: that is the butt’s finish. Or, to butt or not to butt–that is the question:”

The speaker creates puns by substituting words like ‘butt’ for ‘to be’ and ‘butt’ or ‘or not to butt’ for ‘to be, or not to be’. These humorous wordplays provide a comedic take on the original soliloquy. It reveals the power and versatility of language and English puns. Moreover, the puns help to convey a sense of humorous absurdity, which serves as an effective way of breaking the tension in a scene.

40- Pathetic fallacy

Attributes human feelings and responses to inanimate things or animals, especially in art and literature.

  • The somber clouds darkened our mood.

“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

“ Naught’s had, all’s spent, Since it operational kind Was mine, ’tis interference, ‘twixt drunkenness And sleep, ‘twixt waking and oblivion ‘Tis an easyZoomonly title Loans Credit Line perfect palindrome ‘Tis but a year or two at most, / Ere I must sleep in my tomb.”

This excerpt is rich in pathetic fallacy, as the thunder, lightning and rain are personified and directly connected to the events and emotions of the characters.

41- Periphrasis

A literary device that is used in the formulation of an alternative and shorter phrase to replace a relatively long and complicated one. This is usually in form of a circumlocution or round about expression, rather than direct or literal phraseology. Periphrasis is used because of different aims that include highlighting the statement, adding weight or solemnness, masking the sense and avoiding tediousness.

Common Example

  • At this current moment in time” instead of “now.”
  • Instead of saying “You stupid idiot,” one might say, “You’re not exactly a genius,”

Example In literature

“O, she doth mock me too! Friar Laurence, I took her for my flour and frame; and now am I turn’d, then, an compromise of sound and sense, I am very salt of tear.”

Through the use of periphrasis, Lord Capulet is able to express the depth of his grief and the magnitude of his loss without resorting to simple and direct language.

42- Polyptoton

The stylistic scheme in which words derived from the same root are repeated.

  • Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.

“As You Like It” by Shakespeare

“For who so firm that cannot be agitated? Be not disturbed, though change and chiding chance, By gallants fond, by gossips diffame; praise you, and why not? Speak you praises, or wherein dish? If you disgust, why then fair Mar low despite? If you can blame, blame; if you cannot blame, why then be brief! Thus convergence, thus men judge of us: If we be merry, praise it not; If we be grave, thengraver us: Set down these rights; where is your scribe? Write, for my part, I am I.”

Through the use of Polyptoton in her speech, Rosalind is able to stress the theme of changeability and inconsistency in human beings. She repeated the word ‘change’ with different endings and parts of speech to emphasize her meaning in a poetic and impactful manner.

43- Polysyndeton

Deliberate use of many conjunctions. This literary technique creates a series of equal clauses that are connected by ‘and’, ‘but’ ‘or’ and other coordinating conjunctions, which emphasizes the parallel structure of the sentences.

  • We have ships and men and money and stores.

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“The sluggish ooze, which heaped round my feet, Cold slid and squirmed, and multiple my pains; And faster and faster sunk that stone! Who laid bat wings to Memphian sculptures’ eyes! Beneath the rocks, beneath the sea, / The old man popped.”

Through the use of Polysyndeton in this poem, Coleridge is able to emphasize the parallels, repeated and iterative circumstances faced by the speaker, which makes the poem more engaging and vivid.

The use of more words than necessary to convey meaning either as a fault of style or for emphasis.

44- Pleonasm 

It is a rhetoric device whereby two words are used to emphasize one meaning. This refers to a writing style that tends to use a lot of words to convey an idea while also repeating or using double terms denoting exactly the same meaning. 

  • see with one’s eyes or burning fire.

“Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye

“I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am the sun on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there; I did not die.”

Here, the repetition of ‘I am’ is used to reinforce the idea of the speaker’s presence and continuity even after death. The use of pleonasms in this poem creates a lyrical and immersive quality, which emphasizes the richness and significance of everyday experiences.

A comparison between two unlike things using ‘like’ or ‘as’. Simile helps to create vivid imagery and convey complex emotion by providing a concrete example or comparison.

  • Her smile was as bright as the sun.
  • She worked like a horse

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare

“I am seraunt to some demies, That mock our masters of their festivities; And sometimes I’ll a little poster it, When you have done your exercises, And wonder thengpuly how you come to it; But whether by born or taught I cannot decipher; It enables me to speak in divinity; And ’tis a common proof that low men understand it.”

Here, Puck uses a simile to describe his ability to move unnoticed. This simile is powerful and intriguing as it draws an interesting parallel between Puck’s movements and servants making fun of their masters festivities. The use of simile in this instance helps to convey the idea that Puck is able to move around discreetly without being seen.

46- Synecdoche

A part is made to represent the whole or vice versa.

  • All hands on deck.
  • Give me four

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, / Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—” 

Poe’s use of a raven as a symbol in his poem goes beyond just representing a specific bird – it also highlights the gloomy associations and connotations that humans often attach to it. The poet employs synecdoche to represent the whole in order to create a somber and melancholic atmosphere.

47- Sibilance

A literary device where strongly stressed consonants are created deliberately by producing soft, hissing sounds. This effect is often produced through the use of sibilant consonant sounds, such as ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘z’, and ‘zh’.

  • The slithering snake slid through the grass.
  • The sea slashed against the shore

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot

“Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a lifetime Of trouble, of growing old Shall not make, shall not mitigate, Shall not make amends for, Still less does forgiveness, Since that silence in which we all Die like a departed king”

The writer uses a literary device called sibilance to create a pensive and contemplative mood. This technique involves the repetition of words with an ‘s’ sound, such as ‘disturb’ and ‘universe’, which contributes to a whispery and introspective tone that matches the speaker’s inner thoughts. The repetition of initial ‘s’ sounds in these words helps to establish a connection between the speaker’s thoughts and the events that he ponders, which creates a sense of complexity and instability in the relationship between the two.

48- SynScope

A figure of speech in which a part of a sentence is repeated in a different way. For example, “The dog, the dog, that stole the cat” is a sycope that repeats the word “dog” in a different way to emphasize it.

“Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce

“(Arise, O sleeper, I would cry to you up in your burrow, / Come out,\n”

James Joyce uses the literary device of syncope, which involves omitting letters or sounds from words to mimic natural speech. He builds dense, meaningful passages around gaps and distortions in dialogue to represent a sedated and slurred voice. The contrast between these sections of rich prose and moments of silence allows Joyce to vividly render the intense inner experiences and obsessions of his characters.

49- Tautology

Saying the same thing twice in different words, which is considered to be a redundancy.

  • She took a deep breath and breathed in deeply.
  • I have already told you that I will never do it again.

“Arise, fair sun, and kill the enviously dark night!”

Shakespeare uses repetition of the phrases ‘fair sun’ and ‘enviously dark night’ to emphasize the depth of Romeo’s feelings for Juliet. Though the two phrases mean the same thing, however their repetition create a strong visual image and sensuous tone that mirrors Romeo’s intense emotions. This repetitive technique enriches the text’s poetic style and resonates with the reader, which underscores the passionate love between the two characters.

A word applies to two others in different senses.

  • She broke his car and his heart.
  • She dressed her doll and her brother.

“A Walk” by Joseph Brodsky

“Officials throng the streets, The sun stews, yesterday’s rain Drips from the leaves and whatever else Will hold such pineapple.”

Brodsky uses zeugma that yokes together two ideas that may not naturally belong together. He connects ‘officials throng the streets’ with ‘the sun stews’ pairing a group of people with a description of the weather. This unusual juxtaposition allows Brodsky to hyperbolize and satirize as he critically examines the Soviet regime.

Similar Posts

11 Types of Metaphors in English (Definitions & Examples)

11 Types of Metaphors in English (Definitions & Examples)

What is a Metaphor? Metaphor is a figure of speech in which two completely unlike things are compared by…

90+ One Liner Dog Puns | When my dog gets a treat, he’s on cloud canine

90+ One Liner Dog Puns | When my dog gets a treat, he’s on cloud canine

Dog puns are a fun and quirky way to honor our four-legged companions. They infuse our discussions on these…

89 Funny Bread Puns (One Liner) | I knead you in my life!

89 Funny Bread Puns (One Liner) | I knead you in my life!

Bread puns comprise of such awesome mix of humor and bread that everyone goes clamoring for them. They draw inspiration…

Simile And Metaphor Examples | Difference  Between Simile & Metaphor

Simile And Metaphor Examples | Difference Between Simile & Metaphor

What is a Simile? A simile is a figurative unit which compares two unlike things with the help of…

86 Hilarious One Liner Cat Puns

86 Hilarious One Liner Cat Puns

Reveling in the delightful nature of our feline companions through witty cat puns is more than merely fun but…

100+ Funny One Liner Goat Puns

100+ Funny One Liner Goat Puns

This article explores the world of puns and wordplay related to goats. It introduces readers to the concept of…

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Figure of Speech: Definition and Examples

Illustration by Hugo Lin. ThoughtCo.

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Figure of Speech
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In common usage, a figure of speech is a word or phrase that means something more or something other than it seems to say—the opposite of a  literal  expression. As Professor Brian Vickers has observed, "It is a sad proof of the decline of rhetoric that in modern colloquial English the phrase 'a figure of speech' has come to mean something false, illusory or insincere."

In rhetoric , a figure of speech is a type of figurative language (such as metaphor , irony , understatement , or anaphora ) that departs from conventional word order or meaning. Some common figures of speech are  alliteration , anaphora , antimetabole , antithesis , apostrophe , assonance , hyperbole , irony , metonymy , onomatopoeia , paradox , personification , pun , simile , synecdoche , and understatement .

Watch Now: Common Figures of Speech Explained

Just a figure of speech: the lighter side.

Following are a few figures of speech that are a bit tongue in cheek.

Mr. Burns, "American History X-cellent," "The Simpsons," 2010

"Break a leg, everyone" (to a passing employee). "I said break a leg." (The employee then breaks his own leg with a hammer.) "My God, man! That was a figure of speech. You're fired!"

Peter Falk and Robert Walker, Jr., "Mind Over Mayhem," "Columbo," 1974

Lieutenant Columbo: "So you had an hour to kill before you had to get back to the airport."

Dr. Neil Cahill: "I take it you mean to use that phrase, to kill.' You mean that literally."

Lieutenant Columbo: "No, I was just using a figure of speech. I'm not making an accusation."

Jonathan Baumbach, "My Father More or Less," "Fiction Collective," 1982

"What if there were a gun to your head, what would you say?" "Whose gun are you thinking of putting to my head?" "It was just a figure of speech, for God's sake. You don't have to be so literal about it." "It's only a figure of speech when you don't have a gun in your possession."

Carmen Carter et al., "Doomsday World (Star Trek: The Next Generation, No. 12)," 1990

" 'Yes,' said Coleridge. 'The new Commercial Trading Hall....The emptiest building in town, gentlemen. If there are twenty people in it at any given time, I'll eat my tricorder on the spot.' "Data looked at the archaeologist, and Geordi caught the look. 'That's only a figure of speech, Data. She doesn't really intend to eat it.' "The android nodded. 'I am familiar with the expression, Geordi.' "

Metaphor as a Figure of Thought

A metaphor is a  trope  or figure of speech, in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common, as these quotes show.

Ning Yu, "Imagery," "Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition," 1996

"In its broad sense, a metaphor is not only a figure of speech but also a figure of thought . It is a mode of apprehension and a means of perceiving and expressing something in a radically different way. In such a sense, figurative images are not simply decorative but serve to reveal aspects of experience in a new light."

"Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major," adapted by Ronald Kidd from the play by Tom Isbell, 2008

"Reaching into her pocket, [Ethel] pulled out the paper, held it in the moonlight, and read, 'Beneath this brilliant metaphor will there treasure be.' "What's a metaphor?' I asked. "Ethel said, 'It's a word that compares one thing to another, to show how they might be alike.' " 'Well,' I said, 'if the metaphor is brilliant, maybe it's the chandelier.' "They stared at me. I don't know why. If you ask me, the clue had seemed pretty obvious. " 'You know,' said Kermit, 'I think Archie is right.' He turned to Ethel. 'I can't believe I just said that.' "

Simile As Another Kind of Comparison

A simile is a figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by like or as, as these quotes demonstrate.

Donita K. Paul, "Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball," 2010

" 'What's a simile?' asked Sandy. She looked to Cora for an answer. " 'When you compare something to something else to get a better picture of it in your head. The clouds look like cotton balls. The edge of the snow shovel is sharp like a knife.' "

Jay Heinrichs, "Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines That Get Laughs," 2011

"The simile is a metaphor that gives itself away. 'The moon is a balloon': that's a metaphor. 'The moon is like a balloon': that's a simile."

Oxymoron as an Apparent Contradiction

An  oxymoron  is a figure of speech usually one or two words in which seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.

Bradley Harris Dowden, "Logical Reasoning ,"  1993

"A contradiction in terms is also called an oxymoron. Debates are often started by asking whether a term is an oxymoron. For example, is artificial intelligence an oxymoron? Jokes are often based in oxymorons; is military intelligence an oxymoron?"

Dianne Blacklock, "False Advertising," 2007

"Her husband got hit by a bus. What was Gemma supposed to say? More to the point, what did Helen want to hear? " 'Well,' said Gemma, going to sit on the bed beside Helen, who looked a little taken aback as she shifted to make room. 'You can't have an accident on purpose,' Gemma went on. 'That's an oxymoron. If there was intent, it wasn't an accident.' " 'I guess I'm wondering if there isn't hidden intent in everything we do,' said Helen."

Hyperbole As Exaggeration

Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect.

Steve Atinsky, "Tyler on Prime Time," 2002

 "Samantha and I sat in chairs that had been set up near the table. " 'What's hyperbole?' I asked her. " 'It's a fancy way of saying bull.' "

Thomas S. Kane, "The New Oxford Guide to Writing," 1988

"Mark Twain was a master of hyperbole, as he reveals in this description of a tree after an ice storm: '[I]t stands there the acme, the climax, the supremest possibility in art or nature, of bewildering, intoxicating, intolerable magnificence. One cannot make the words strong enough.' "

Understatement as Beauty...or Sarcasm

Understatement, the opposite of hyperbole, is a figure of speech in which a writer or speaker deliberately makes a situation seem less important or serious than it is.

Fiona Harper, "English Lord, Ordinary Lady," 2008

"She read what [Will] was going to say in his eyes before the words left his lips. " 'I love you.' "So simple. No frills, no grandiose gestures. It was so Will. Suddenly, she understood the beauty of understatement."

Steph Swainston, "No Present Like Time," 2006

"[Serein] sat in the doorway, legs out onto the half deck, huddling in his greatcoat. 'Comet,' he said. 'You weren't well.' " 'Is that understatement a new type of sarcasm you're experimenting with?'"

Just a Figure of Speech: The Cliché

A  cliché  is a trite expression whose effectiveness has been worn out through overuse and excessive familiarity.

David Punter, "Metaphor," 2007

"[I]t is interesting that the phrase 'just a figure of speech' has become a cliché , as if for something to be a figure of speech in some way downgrades it. It may not be going too far to say that there is a certain denial going on in this view; that it is more convenient and comfortable to pretend that there are some speech forms which do not use figures of speech and thus give us access to a solid, incontrovertible perception of the real, in contrast to which the figure of speech is in some way abstracted, lacking in purchase."

Laura Toffler-Corrie, "The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz," 2010

"I'm quite sure he doesn't really think you have been abducted by aliens. It was just a figure of speech, like 'Oh, she's just little Miss Sunshine' or 'What a clown.' When you use expressions like that (which I totally never do), it doesn't mean a person is really an inhumanly hot solar ball or that they're a member of the circus. It's not literal."

Further Reading

For more and deeper information on figures of speech, you can explore the following:

  • Brief Introductions to 30 Figures of Speech
  • Figure of Sound  and  Figure of Thought
  • Literally and Figuratively: Commonly Confused Words
  • 100 Awfully Good Examples of Oxymorons
  • 100 Sweet Similes
  • The 10 Greatest Hyperboles of All Time
  • Top 20 Figures of Speech
  • Brief Introductions to Common Figures of Speech
  • The Top 20 Figures of Speech
  • AP English Exam: 101 Key Terms
  • Simile Definition and Examples
  • Hyperbole: Definition and Examples
  • How Figurative Language Is Used Every Day
  • Valentine's Day Language: Learning Idioms, Metaphors, and Similes
  • Figure of Thought in Rhetoric
  • Figurative vs. Literal Language
  • Definition and Examples of Litotes in English Grammar
  • 20 Figures of Speech That We Never Heard About in School
  • What Is the Figure of Speech Antiphrasis?
  • What Are Tropes in Language?
  • Dead Metaphor Definition and Examples
  • Figurative Meaning

[email protected]

The English Digest

Figures of Speech in English - The English Digest

  • Figures of Speech in English

Here in this article, we are going to learn about the 37 most popular Figures of Speech in English with Examples. Figures of speech in English are an essential part of the language that can add depth, meaning, and emphasis to our communication. They are linguistic devices or techniques that use language in a non-literal way, creating images or associations that can help us better convey our thoughts and emotions. Figures of speech in English can be used in a variety of contexts, from literature and poetry to everyday conversation.

The importance of figures of speech in English lies in their ability to convey meaning and create memorable impressions. They allow us to express ourselves in creative and unique ways, adding color and texture to our language. Whether we are trying to persuade, inform, or entertain, figures of speech can help us to communicate more effectively, making our message more engaging and memorable for our audience.

Furthermore, figures of speech in English are an important tool for writers and speakers to add flair and artistry to their work. Through the use of figurative language, they can create vivid images and evoke powerful emotions, making their work more engaging and memorable. As such, figures of speech are a vital component of effective communication, and their usage is important in all areas of language.

Here I am sharing A Comprehensive Guide to 37 Figures of Speech in English with Examples

Alliteration

Definition:

Alliteration is one of the figures of speech in English in which the same sound or letter is repeated at the beginning of two or more words in a sentence.

Explanation:

Alliteration is used to create a musical or rhythmic effect, to emphasize certain words or ideas, or to make a sentence more memorable. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Alliteration can be used to create a certain mood or tone, to emphasize certain words or ideas, or create a memorable phrase.

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • The big, bad wolf blew down the house.
  • Betty Botter bought some butter.
  • Sally sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts

An allusion is one of the figures of speech in English that makes a reference to a person, place, event, or idea from history, literature, mythology, or culture. It is a literary device used by writers and speakers to add depth, meaning, and complexity to their work.

Allusions are used to draw a connection between a familiar cultural reference and a new idea or concept. They can be used to make a comparison, create a mood or atmosphere, or to provide context to a narrative. The use of allusions is based on the assumption that the reader or listener has knowledge of the reference being made.

Allusions can be found in various forms of literature, including poetry, novels, and plays, as well as in speeches, advertisements, and everyday conversations. They can be used to evoke emotions, create imagery, or add humor to a text.

  • “I was surprised his nose wasn’t growing like Pinocchio’s.” This is an allusion to the character Pinocchio, who was known for his lying.
  • “This place is like a Garden of Eden.” This is an allusion to the biblical Garden of Eden, known for its perfection and beauty.
  • “He had the strength of ten men.” This is an allusion to the legend of Hercules, who was known for his superhuman strength.
  • “She was a real Mona Lisa.” This is an allusion to the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, known for its enigmatic smile.
  • “I’m no Einstein.” This is an allusion to the famous scientist Albert Einstein, known for his intelligence and contributions to the field of physics.

Anaphora is one of the figures of speech in English in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.

Anaphora is used to create a rhythmic and powerful effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a more memorable and persuasive statement. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Anaphora can be used to create a rhythmic and powerful effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a more memorable and persuasive statement.

  • “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)
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” (Charles Dickens)
  • “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
  • “My fellow citizens, let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous undertaking.” (John F. Kennedy)
  • “Every day, every night, in every way, I am getting better and better.” (Émile Coué)

Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism is one of the figures of speech in English that attributes human characteristics, qualities, or behaviors to animals, objects, or abstract concepts.

Anthropomorphism is used to create a certain mood or tone, to make abstract concepts more relatable, or to emphasize a point. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Anthropomorphism can be used to create a certain mood or tone, to make abstract concepts more relatable, or to emphasize a point.

  • “The wind whispered through the trees.” (attributing the human quality of whispering to the wind)
  • “The sun smiled down on us.” (attributing the human quality of smiling to the sun)
  • “The clock ticked away the hours.” (attributing the human quality of ticking to a clock)
  • “The city never sleeps.” (attributing the human quality of sleeping to a city)
  • “The moon danced on the waves.” (attributing the human quality of dancing to the moon)

Antaclasis is a figure of speech that involves the repetition of a word or phrase, but with a different meaning each time it is repeated. It is a rhetorical device used by speakers and writers to create emphasis, humor, or irony.

Antaclasis works by repeating a word or phrase that has multiple meanings so that each repetition produces a different effect. Repeated word or phrase can be used in different contexts to create a variety of meanings and connotations. It is often used for its comic effect, but can also be used for its dramatic or persuasive effect.

Antaclasis can be found in various forms of literature, including poetry, novels, and plays, as well as in speeches, advertisements, and everyday conversations. It can be used to create a sense of wit or humor, to emphasize a point, or to create a memorable catchphrase.

  • “Your argument is sound, nothing but sound.” In this example, the word “sound” is repeated twice, but with different meanings. The first “sound” refers to a logical argument, while the second “sound” refers to meaningless noise.
  • “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” In this example, the word “flies” is repeated twice, but with different meanings. The first “flies” is a verb referring to the passage of time, while the second “flies” is a noun referring to a type of insect.
  • “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” In this example, the word “stand” is repeated twice, but with different meanings. The first “stand” refers to having a belief or principle, while the second “stand” refers to physically standing up.
  • “I can resist everything except temptation.” In this example, the word “resist” is repeated twice, but with different meanings. The first “resist” refers to the act of refusing, while the second “resist” refers to the act of withstanding.
  • “He’s a man of the world, and that world is made of clay.” In this example, the word “world” is repeated twice, but with different meanings. The first “world” refers to the man’s worldly experience, while the second “world” refers to the material from which the world is made.

Anticlimax is a figure of speech in which a series of ideas, phrases or clauses that build up to a climax or high point suddenly shift to a lower or less important idea, phrase or clause. This sudden shift in importance can be used to create a humorous effect, to convey disappointment or to deflate the expectations of the audience.

Anticlimax works by building up a sense of anticipation or excitement through the use of language, only to suddenly drop to a less important idea. This shift in focus can be used to surprise the audience, to create irony or to undermine expectations.

Anticlimax can be found in various forms of literature, including poetry, novels, and plays, as well as in speeches, advertisements, and everyday conversations. It can be used to create a sense of humor, to create an ironic effect, or to make a statement.

  • “He spent years studying the classics, learning foreign languages, and traveling the world, only to end up as a cashier at a convenience store.” In this example, the list of accomplishments builds up to an expectation of success, only to end in a mundane occupation.
  • “After scaling the treacherous mountain and braving the storm, they finally reached the summit, only to find a McDonald’s restaurant.” In this example, the journey builds up to the expectation of a magnificent view, only to end in a fast food restaurant.
  • “The play was an epic masterpiece, with stunning acting, intricate sets, and a gripping storyline, but unfortunately the audience was half asleep by the end.” In this example, the description of the play builds up to the expectation of a rousing success, only to be deflated by the audience’s lack of interest.
  • “After years of hard work and dedication, he finally became the CEO of the company, only to discover that the company was bankrupt.” In this example, the achievement of becoming a CEO builds up to an expectation of success, only to be undermined by the company’s financial situation.
  • “The party was a grand affair, with lavish decorations, fine cuisine, and top-notch entertainment, but unfortunately it was ruined by a fistfight in the corner.” In this example, the description of the party builds up to an expectation of elegance and sophistication, only to be disrupted by a violent altercation.

Antiphrasis

Antiphrasis is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used to express the opposite of its usual meaning. It is a form of irony that is used to create a humorous or sarcastic effect. The meaning of the word or phrase is usually understood through the context of the sentence.

Antiphrasis works by using a word or phrase in a way that is opposite to its usual meaning, in order to create a contrast between what is said and what is meant. It is often used for its humorous or sarcastic effect and can be used to express a variety of emotions, including anger, frustration, or disbelief.

Antiphrasis can be found in various forms of literature, including poetry, novels, and plays, as well as in speeches, advertisements, and everyday conversations. It can be used to create a sense of humor, to express sarcasm, or convey a particular emotion.

  • “Great job breaking that vase, clumsy!” In this example, the word “great” is used sarcastically to express disapproval of the person’s actions.
  • “I love it when it rains on my birthday!” In this example, the word “love” is used ironically to express the opposite of the speaker’s true feelings.
  • “Oh, sure, let’s all just sit around and do nothing. That’s a great plan!” In this example, the word “great” is used sarcastically to express frustration with the proposed plan.
  • “Wow, you’re a real genius for locking your keys in the car!” In this example, the word “genius” is used sarcastically to express disapproval of the person’s actions.
  • “Thanks for the huge mess you made in the kitchen. I really appreciate it!” In this example, the word “thanks” is used sarcastically to express disapproval of the person’s actions.

Antithesis is a figure of speech in which two contrasting ideas are intentionally juxtaposed to create a contrasting effect. This figure of speech involves the use of contrasting words, phrases, or ideas within a sentence or a pair of consecutive sentences. The purpose of antithesis is to emphasize the differences between the two ideas and to create a powerful rhetorical effect.

Antithesis works by presenting two contrasting ideas side by side to highlight their differences. This figure of speech is often used to create emphasis, to add emphasis to an argument, or to make a point more memorable. Antithesis is also used to create a sense of balance and symmetry within a sentence or paragraph.

Antithesis can be found in a variety of forms of literature, including poetry, prose, and speeches. It can be used to create a sense of contrast, to add emphasis to a point, or to create a memorable phrase. Antithesis is often used in persuasive writing to make an argument more compelling by presenting opposing viewpoints.

  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This famous opening line from Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities” is an example of antithesis. The contrasting ideas of “best” and “worst” emphasize the differences between the two times.
  • “Love is an ideal thing, marriage is a real thing.” This example from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche contrasts the ideal of love with the reality of marriage.
  • “To err is human, to forgive divine.” This famous quote from Alexander Pope contrasts the human tendency to make mistakes with the divine quality of forgiveness.
  • “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This famous line from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address contrasts the self-centered desire for personal gain with the selfless desire to serve one’s country.
  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” This example from Martin Luther King Jr. contrasts the need for unity with the disastrous consequences of division.

The apostrophe is a figure of speech in which an absent or imaginary person or thing is addressed as if it were present and able to respond.

An apostrophe is used to create a more vivid and memorable description of an object or idea, to emphasize certain aspects of it, or to create a certain mood or tone. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Apostrophes can be used to create a more vivid and memorable description of an object or idea, to emphasize certain aspects of it, or to create a certain mood or tone.

  • “Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” (addressing Romeo, who is not present)
  • “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
  • Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so.” (addressing death)
  • “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
  • How I wonder what you are.” (addressing a star)
  • “O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done.” (addressing a deceased captain)
  • “Hello darkness, my old friend

Assonance is a figure of speech in which the same vowel sound is repeated in two or more words in a sentence.

Assonance is used to create a musical or rhythmic effect, to emphasize certain words or ideas, or to make a sentence more memorable. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Assonance can be used to create a certain mood or tone, to emphasize certain words or ideas, or to create a memorable phrase.

  • The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
  • The cat sat on the mat.
  • The light of the fire is a sight.
  • The spider climbed higher and higher.
  • The night was dark and full of terrors.
  • Ocean Motion

Cataphora is a figure of speech in which a pronoun or other word refers to something that comes later in the sentence or discourse. In other words, cataphora refers to the use of a word or phrase that refers to a subsequent word or phrase that has not yet been mentioned. It is the opposite of anaphora, which refers to the use of a word or phrase that refers to something that has already been mentioned.

Cataphora is used to create a sense of anticipation and to emphasize certain words or ideas. By referring to something before it is mentioned, the speaker or writer can create a sense of continuity and connection between different parts of a sentence or discourse. Cataphora can also be used to create a sense of surprise or to build suspense.

Cataphora is commonly used in both written and spoken language and can be found in a variety of different contexts, including literature, journalism, and everyday conversation. It is often used to create a sense of flow and coherence in a sentence or discourse.

  • “When he arrived at the party, John was surprised. He had never seen so many people in one place.” In this example, the pronoun “he” refers to John, who is introduced later in the sentence.
  • “Before they could cross the river, the soldiers had to build a bridge. It was a difficult task, but they were determined to succeed.” In this example, the pronoun “it” refers to the task of building a bridge, which is introduced later in the sentence.
  • “In the middle of the night, she heard a noise. It was only the wind, but it still made her heart race.” In this example, the pronoun “it” refers to the noise that the speaker hears, which is introduced later in the sentence.
  • “With her suitcase in hand, she boarded the plane. It was the beginning of a new adventure.” In this example, the pronoun “it” refers to the new adventure that the speaker is about to embark on, which is introduced later in the sentence.
  • “Feeling tired and hungry, he decided to stop at a restaurant. It was a decision he would later regret.” In this example, the pronoun “it” refers to the decision to stop at a restaurant, which is introduced later in the sentence.

Chiasmus is one of the figures of speech in English in which words or phrases are repeated in reverse order to create a parallel structure.

Chiasmus is used to create a more memorable and impactful statement, to emphasize a point, or to create a certain mood or tone. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Chiasmus can be used to create a more memorable and impactful statement, to emphasize a point, or to create a certain mood or tone.

  • “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy)
  • “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”
  • “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” (Mark Twain)
  • “She goes to school to learn, not for a fashion show.”
  • “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” (John F. Kennedy)

Climax is one of the figures of speech in English that involves the arrangement of words, phrases or clauses in order of increasing importance or significance. The purpose of this figure of speech is to create a sense of anticipation, excitement or emphasis by building up to a high point in the sentence or discourse.

The climax involves the use of a series of words, phrases or clauses that are arranged in order of increasing importance or significance. This arrangement creates a sense of tension and anticipation as the listener or reader waits for the high point or climax of the sentence or discourse. The climax may be a single word, phrase or idea, or it may be a culmination of several ideas that have been built up over the course of the sentence or discourse.

Climax is a common figure of speech that can be used in a variety of different contexts, including literature, poetry, speeches, and everyday conversation. It is often used to create a sense of drama or excitement or to emphasize a particular point or idea.

  • “She walked into the room, and everyone turned to look at her. She was stunning, with her long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and radiant smile.” In this example, the climax is the description of the woman’s appearance, which is built up over the course of the sentence.
  • “I studied hard, day and night, for months on end. I took every practice test I could find, and I never gave up. And finally, after all my hard work, I passed the exam with flying colors.” In this example, the climax is the moment when the speaker passes the exam, which is built up over the course of the sentence.
  • “The storm grew stronger and stronger, the winds howling and the rain pounding down. Trees were uprooted and houses destroyed, and still the storm raged on.” In this example, the climax is the description of the destruction caused by the storm, which is built up over the course of the sentence.
  • “He stood at the edge of the cliff, looking out over the vast expanse of the ocean. The sun was setting, casting a warm golden glow over the water, and for a moment, he felt at peace.” In this example, the climax is the moment when the speaker feels at peace, which is built up over the course of the sentence.
  • “The music swelled and the lights dimmed, as the curtains slowly opened to reveal the stage. The audience held its breath, waiting for the show to begin, and then suddenly, the spotlight fell on the lead actor, who began to sing.” In this example, the climax is the moment when the lead actor begins to sing, which is built up over the course of the sentence.

Circumlocution

Circumlocution is one of the figures of speech in English involves the use of many words to express an idea that could be expressed with fewer, more direct words. It is often used to avoid using a specific word or to make a point in a more indirect way.

Circumlocution involves using more words than necessary to express an idea, often in a roundabout or indirect way. This figure of speech is used to avoid using a specific word or to make a point in a more subtle or nuanced way. Circumlocution can be effective in certain contexts, such as diplomacy or creative writing, but it can also be seen as a form of obfuscation or deliberate vagueness.

Circumlocution is used in many different contexts, including politics, literature, and everyday conversation. It can be used to soften the impact of a statement, to avoid offending someone, or to create a more complex or nuanced description.

  • “He passed away peacefully in his sleep.” Instead of using the more direct word “died,” this circumlocution is often used to soften the impact of the statement.
  • “I am not at liberty to disclose that information.” Instead of saying “I can’t tell you,” this circumlocution is often used to avoid giving a direct answer.
  • “The sun was setting behind the mountains, casting a warm glow across the sky.” Instead of saying “The sky was orange,” this circumlocution is used to create a more descriptive and poetic image.
  • “I’m afraid I’m not feeling quite myself today.” Instead of saying “I’m sick,” this circumlocution is often used to avoid alarming others or to downplay the severity of the situation.
  • “The company is experiencing some challenges in meeting its financial obligations.” Instead of saying “The company is going bankrupt,” this circumlocution is often used to avoid alarming stakeholders or to create a more positive spin on a negative situation.

Dysphemism is one of the figures of speech in English that involves the use of an intentionally derogatory or negative word or expression in place of a neutral or positive one. The purpose of this figure of speech is to create a negative or offensive tone or to express disapproval or contempt for the thing being described.

Dysphemism involves the use of language that is intentionally negative or derogatory, often to create a more emotional or charged effect than would be achieved with neutral or positive language. Dysphemism can be used to insult or offend someone, to express disapproval or contempt for a person or thing, or to make a statement more powerful or provocative.

Dysphemism is often used in political and social commentary, advertising, and everyday conversation. It can be used to create a strong emotional response, to ridicule or attack an opponent, or to express strong negative feelings.

  • “He’s not bald, he’s follically challenged.” In this example, “follically challenged” is a dysphemism for “bald,” intended to soften the negative connotation of the word “bald.”
  • “She didn’t die, she just kicked the bucket.” In this example, “kicked the bucket” is a dysphemism for “died,” intended to make light of a serious situation.
  • “The restaurant was a real dump.” In this example, “dump” is a dysphemism for “restaurant,” intended to express disdain or disapproval for the establishment.
  • “I don’t want to work with him, he’s a total slimeball.” In this example, “slimeball” is a dysphemism for a negative description of the person being referred to.
  • “That car is a piece of junk.” In this example, “piece of junk” is a dysphemism for “car,” intended to express strong disapproval or disdain for the vehicle.

Ellipsis is one of the figures of speech in English that involves the omission of one or more words that are implied but not actually stated. This can create a more concise and impactful sentence or add an air of mystery or suspense to a phrase.

Ellipsis involves leaving out a word or words that are implied but not explicitly stated, often for the purpose of creating a more concise and impactful sentence. This figure of speech is commonly used in literature and everyday conversation to create an air of mystery or suspense or to add a sense of urgency or excitement to a phrase.

Ellipsis is used in many different contexts, including literature, poetry, and everyday conversation. It can be used to create a sense of tension, convey emotion or drama, or create a more concise and impactful sentence.

  • “After all this time?” “Always.” In this exchange from the Harry Potter series, the ellipsis creates a sense of suspense and drama.
  • “The night was dark and stormy…” This ellipsis creates a sense of mystery and foreboding, inviting the reader to imagine what might come next.
  • “She looked into his eyes and saw… nothing.” This ellipsis creates a sense of disappointment and finality.
  • “I came, I saw, I conquered.” In this famous phrase from Julius Caesar, the ellipsis creates a sense of speed and efficiency, emphasizing the speaker’s power and authority.
  • “He was a man of few words, but…” This ellipsis creates a sense of anticipation, inviting the listener to imagine what might come next

Euphemism is one of the figures of speech in English in which a mild or indirect word or phrase is substituted for one that is considered too harsh, blunt, or unpleasant.

Euphemism is used to soften the impact of a harsh or unpleasant statement, to create a more polite or politically correct statement, or to create a more positive or less offensive tone. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Euphemism can be used to soften the impact of a harsh or unpleasant statement, to create a more polite or politically correct statement, or to create a more positive or less offensive tone.

  • “Let go” instead of “fired”
  • “Pass away” instead of “die”
  • “Vertically challenged” instead of “short”
  • “Restroom” instead of “bathroom”
  • “Collateral damage” instead of “civilian casualties”

Epigram is one of the figures of speech in English that consists of a short, witty, and often paradoxical statement that conveys a clever or insightful message in a memorable way.

An epigram is a concise, memorable statement that often combines elements of surprise, humor, and insight. It is typically used to make a point or express a clever observation about a particular subject or situation. Epigrams are often associated with wit, satire, and humor, and can be found in literature, poetry, and everyday conversation.

Epigrams are used in a variety of contexts, including literature, politics, and everyday conversation. They are often used to make a point, express an opinion, or convey a clever or insightful message in a memorable way.

  • “I can resist everything except temptation.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.” – George Bernard Shaw
  • “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no use being a damn fool about it.” – W.C. Fields
  • “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” – Oscar Wilde

Epistrophe is one of the figures of speech in English in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive clauses or sentences.

Epistrophe is similar to anaphora, but the repeated word or phrase is used at the end of the clause or sentence instead of the beginning. It is used to create a rhythmic and powerful effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a more memorable and persuasive statement.

Epistrophe can be used to create a rhythmic and powerful effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a more memorable and persuasive statement.

  • “Where now? Who now? When now?” (Samuel Beckett)
  • “And all the night he did nothing but weep Philoclea, sigh Philoclea, and cry out Philoclea.” (Philip Sidney)
  • “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11, King James Version)
  • “I’ll have my bond! Speak not against my bond! I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond!” (Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”)

Hyperbole is one of the figures of speech in English in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect.

Hyperbole is used to create a sense of drama or exaggeration, to make a point more forcefully, or to add humor to a statement. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Hyperbole can be used to emphasize the extent of a situation or emotion, to make a point more effectively, or to add humor or irony to a statement.

  • I’ve told you a million times.
  • I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
  • This suitcase weighs a ton.
  • The line for the concert stretched for miles.
  • My heart skipped a thousand beats.
  • He’s as tall as a skyscraper.

The irony is one of the figures of speech in English in which the intended meaning is opposite to the literal meaning.

The irony is used to create a humorous or satirical effect, to criticize something indirectly, or to emphasize a point. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Irony can be used to create a humorous or satirical effect, to criticize something indirectly, or to emphasize a point.

  • A fire station burned down.
  • A traffic jam on the way to a protest against traffic congestion.
  • “What a beautiful day!” said the man as it started to rain.
  • “I love it when my computer crashes,” said no one ever.
  • The best way to avoid a hangover is to stay sober.

Litotes is one of the figures of speech in English in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite.

Litotes is used to create a more subtle and nuanced description of an object or idea, to express understatement, or to create a certain mood or tone. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Litotes can be used to create a more subtle and nuanced description of an object or idea, to express understatement, or to create a certain mood or tone.

  • “She’s not the smartest person in the world.” (expressing that she is not very smart)
  • “He’s not the nicest guy around.” (expressing that he is not very nice)
  • “The test wasn’t exactly easy.” (expressing that the test was difficult)
  • “I’m not unhappy with the results.” (expressing that the results were satisfactory, but not necessarily happy about them)
  • “He’s not a bad singer.” (expressing that he is a good singer)

A merism is one of the figures of speech in English that involves the use of two contrasting or opposite parts to represent the entirety of something. This figure of speech is often used to emphasize the completeness or totality of a concept.

A merism is a figure of speech that uses contrasting or opposite parts to represent the entirety of something. It is often used to emphasize the completeness or totality of a concept. For example, the phrase “from head to toe” is a merism that implies the entire body. Similarly, the phrase “high and low” implies the entire range of possibilities.

A merism is commonly used in literature, poetry, and everyday conversation to emphasize the completeness or totality of a concept. It can be used to describe a wide range of things, from physical objects to abstract ideas.

  • “He searched high and low for the missing key.” – This merism is used to emphasize the thoroughness of the search.
  • “She knew everything from A to Z.” – This merism is used to indicate the speaker’s comprehensive knowledge of a subject.
  • “He was a man of wealth and taste.” – This merism is used to describe the character in a concise and memorable way.
  • “He turned the house upside down looking for his wallet.” – This merism is used to emphasize the thoroughness of the search.
  • “I will love you from now until forever.” – This merism is used to emphasize the depth and duration of the speaker’s love.

A metaphor is one of the figures of speech in English that compares two different things without using the words “like” or “as”.

A metaphor is used to create a direct comparison between two dissimilar things, to illustrate a point or create vivid imagery. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

A metaphor can be used to convey complex ideas and emotions, describe people, places, and things, or create vivid and memorable images in the reader’s mind.

  • Life is a journey.
  • The world is a stage.
  • The snow is a white blanket.
  • Her eyes were shining jewels.
  • He has a heart of stone.
  • Time is a thief.

Metonymy is one of the figures of speech in English in which a word is replaced with another word that is closely associated with it.

Metonymy is used to create a more vivid and memorable description of an object or idea, to emphasize certain aspects of it, or to create a certain mood or tone. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Metonymy can be used to create a more vivid and memorable description of an object or idea, to emphasize certain aspects of it, or to create a certain mood or tone.

  • The Crown (referring to the monarch)
  • The pen is mightier than the sword. (referring to written words)
  • Hollywood (referring to the American film industry)
  • The dish is too salty. (referring to the food)
  • The suits (referring to the businessmen)
  • The track (referring to the racecourse)

Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is one of the figures of speech in English in in which words are used to imitate the sounds of objects or actions they describe.

Onomatopoeia is used to create a more vivid and sensory description of objects or actions, to create a certain mood or tone, or to add humor to a statement. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Onomatopoeia can be used to create a more vivid and sensory description of objects or actions, to create a certain mood or tone, or to add humor to a statement.

  • The clock ticked loudly in the silent room.
  • The bee buzzed around the flower. “Buzz” (the sound of a bee)
  • The thunder roared in the distance.
  • The car honked its horn in frustration.
  • The popcorn popped loudly in the microwave.
  • “Hiss” (the sound of a snake)
  • “Splash” (the sound of water)
  • “Crunch” (the sound of something being crushed)
  • “Sizzle” (the sound of something cooking)

Oxymoron is one of the figures of speech in English in which two contradictory terms are combined to create a new meaning.

Oxymoron is used to create a humorous or paradoxical effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a memorable and striking description. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Oxymoron can be used to create a humorous or paradoxical effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a memorable and striking description.

  • “Jumbo shrimp” (combining the large and small)
  • “Sweet sorrow” (combining the pleasant and unpleasant)
  • “Living dead” (combining life and death)
  • “Deafening silence” (combining sound and silence)
  • “Cruel kindness” (combining cruelty and kindness)
  • Bittersweet
  • Pretty ugly
  • Open secret

A paradox is a statement or situation that appears to be contradictory or absurd, but is actually true or has a deeper meaning.

Paradox is used to create a thought-provoking effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a certain mood or tone. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Paradoxes can be used to create a thought-provoking effect, to emphasize a point, or to create a certain mood or tone.

  • “Less is more.” (meaning that simplicity can be more effective than complexity)
  • “I am nobody.” (meaning that the speaker doesn’t want to be defined by societal labels)
  • “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” (meaning that two opposing parties can temporarily ally against a common enemy)
  • “This statement is false.” (a self-contradictory statement that challenges the notion of absolute truth)
  • “The beginning of the end.” (referring to a point at which something begins to decline)

Pathetic Fallacy

Pathetic Fallacy is one of the figures of speech in English in which human emotions or traits are attributed to inanimate objects or nature.

Pathetic Fallacy is used to create a certain mood or tone, to emphasize a certain aspect of a subject, or to evoke certain emotions in the reader or listener. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Pathetic Fallacy can be used to create a certain mood or tone, to emphasize a certain aspect of a subject, or to evoke certain emotions in the reader or listener.

  • “The storm clouds seemed to mirror her mood.” (attributing the human emotion of sadness to the storm clouds)
  • “The trees whispered secrets to one another.” (attributing the human trait of gossiping to trees)
  • “The river roared with anger.” (attributing the human emotion of anger to a river)
  • “The flowers danced in the breeze.” (attributing the human quality of dancing to flowers)

Personification

Personification is one of the figures of speech in English in which non-human objects or abstract ideas are given human qualities or characteristics.

Personification is used to create vivid and imaginative descriptions of non-human things, to make them more relatable and understandable to the reader. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Personification can be used to describe nature, animals, objects, and abstract ideas in a more imaginative and creative way.

  • The wind howled through the trees.
  • The sun smiled down at us.
  • The stars danced in the sky.
  • The flowers nodded their heads in the breeze.
  • Fear gripped me tightly.
  • The river whispered secrets to the trees.

Pleonasm is one of the figures of speech in English that involves the use of more words than are necessary to convey the intended meaning. It is often considered to be a form of redundancy, as the extra words do not add any additional information to the sentence.

Pleonasm is often used unintentionally in everyday speech and writing and can make the writing or speech sound repetitive or wordy. However, it can also be used intentionally for emphasis or rhetorical effect. In some cases, pleonasm may be used to clarify or emphasize a point, but it can also lead to confusion if used excessively.

Pleonasm is generally considered to be a poor writing style and should be avoided in formal writing. However, it is sometimes used in informal settings or for creative purposes.

  • “I saw it with my own eyes.” – This sentence is an example of pleonasm, as the phrase “with my own eyes” is unnecessary and redundant when referring to something seen.
  • “The round circular object.” – This sentence is an example of pleonasm, as the word “round” and “circular” mean the same thing.
  • “The red blood cells.” – This sentence is an example of pleonasm, as all blood cells are red.
  • “I need to eat some food to satisfy my hunger.” – This sentence is an example of pleonasm, as the word “food” is unnecessary when referring to satisfying hunger.
  • “He is a man who is a true friend to me.” – This sentence is an example of pleonasm, as the phrase “true friend” is redundant when referring to a friend.

A pun is one of the figures of speech in English that involves using a word or phrase in a way that exploits its multiple meanings or sounds, often for humorous effect. It is a play on words that relies on wordplay and is often used for comedic effects.

A pun is a type of wordplay that exploits the multiple meanings or sounds of a word or phrase. It is often used for humorous effects and can add a playful or witty tone to a piece of writing or conversation. Puns can take many forms, including homophonic puns, homographic puns, and puns based on idioms or phrases.

Puns are commonly used in literature, advertising, comedy, and everyday conversation. They can be used to create humor, add emphasis, or make a point in a playful way. Puns can also be used to create clever wordplay that is memorable and attention-grabbing.

  • “I’m reading a book on anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.” – This pun uses the multiple meanings of the phrase “put down” to create a playful sentence.
  • “I used to be a baker, but I couldn’t make enough dough.” – This pun uses the multiple meanings of the word “dough” to create a clever play on words.
  • “Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field.” – This pun uses the homophonic similarity between “outstanding” and “in his field” to create a humorous sentence.
  • “I’m a big fan of whiteboards. They’re remarkable.” – This pun uses the homophonic similarity between “remarkable” and “whiteboards” to create a clever play on words.
  • “I’m reading a book about teleportation. It’s bound to take me places.” – This pun uses the multiple meanings of the word “bound” to create a playful sentence.

A simile is one of the figures of speech in English that compares two different things using the words “like” or “as”.

A simile is used to create an analogy between two dissimilar things, to illustrate a point or create vivid imagery. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

A simile can be used to convey emotions, describe people, places, and things, or to create vivid images in the reader’s mind.

  • She sings like an angel.
  • He’s as hungry as a bear.
  • The water sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight.
  • His heart raced like a runaway train.
  • The moon is like a white balloon in the sky.
  • She danced like a feather in the wind.

Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole or vice versa.

Synecdoche is used to create a more vivid and memorable description of an object or idea, to emphasize certain aspects of it, or to create a certain mood or tone. It is a form of figurative language that can be used in both poetry and prose.

Synecdoche can be used to create a more vivid and memorable description of an object or idea, to emphasize certain aspects of it, or to create a certain mood or tone.

  • The sails approached the harbor. (sails represent the ship)
  • The White House announced a new policy. (White House represents the President and his administration)
  • She has a new set of wheels. (wheels represent the car)
  • He’s all hands on deck. (hands represent people)
  • The city needs more boots on the ground. (boots represent soldiers)
  • The pen is mightier than the sword. (pen represents written words)

Tautology is a figure of speech that involves repeating the same idea or phrase in different words or using two words that mean the same thing to express a single idea. In other words, it is an unnecessary repetition of words or ideas that do not add any new meaning to the sentence.

Tautology is a form of redundancy that can make writing or speech sound repetitive or dull. It can also be used intentionally for emphasis or rhetorical effect, but it is generally considered poor writing style. The use of tautology can also lead to confusion, as it can create ambiguity and make it difficult to understand the intended meaning of a sentence.

Tautology is often used unintentionally in everyday conversation or writing. It can be avoided by carefully choosing words that are precise and concise, and by avoiding unnecessary repetition.

  • “The future is yet to come.” – This sentence is an example of tautology, as “the future” and “yet to come” express the same idea.
  • “I saw it with my own eyes.” – This sentence is also an example of tautology, as “my own” is redundant when referring to something seen.
  • “The politician gave a speech about his own personal beliefs.” – This sentence is an example of tautology, as “his own personal” is redundant when referring to someone’s beliefs.
  • “I need to get a new ATM machine.” – This sentence is an example of tautology, as “ATM machine” means “automated teller machine machine”.
  • “He’s a man who is very strong and powerful.” – This sentence is an example of tautology, as “strong” and “powerful” express the same idea.

Understatement

Understatement is a rhetorical device in which a writer or speaker intentionally makes a situation or event seem less important or significant than it actually is. It is a figure of speech that is used to create emphasis or to downplay the seriousness of a situation.

Understatement is often used for ironic or comedic effects, as it creates a contrast between what is being said and what is actually happening. It is a type of verbal irony, where the speaker says the opposite of what they mean in order to convey a message. Understatement is also used to express modesty, to downplay one’s own achievements or accomplishments.

Understatement can be used in a variety of contexts, including literature, poetry, speeches, and everyday conversation. It is often used to create humor or convey a sense of understated elegance.

  • After winning the lottery, she said, “I guess I’ll have to be more careful with my spending now.”
  • When a football team loses 10-0, the coach says, “We had a bit of bad luck.”
  • When a student gets an A+ on a difficult exam, they say, “It was no big deal.”
  • When it’s raining heavily, someone says, “It’s just a little bit of rain.”
  • After narrowly avoiding a car accident, someone says, “That was a bit scary, wasn’t it?”

Zeugma is a rhetorical device where a single word or phrase is used in two or more clauses, each time with a different meaning, but without repeating the word or phrase. It is a form of ellipsis that creates a surprising and often humorous effect.

Zeugma is a figure of speech that uses a word or phrase to connect two or more elements in a sentence in a clever, unexpected way. It involves the omission of a word that is implied but not stated, leaving the reader or listener to fill in the blanks. Zeugma is often used to create a humorous effect, to convey a complex idea in a concise manner, or create a sense of surprise or irony.

Zeugma can be used in a variety of contexts, including literature, poetry, song lyrics, and everyday speech. It is often used to add wit and humor to a sentence or to emphasize a point in a memorable way.

  • She broke his car and his heart.
  • He lost his keys and his temper.
  • She opened the door and her heart to the homeless man.
  • He stole both her heart and her wallet.
  • She told him to leave and her apartment.

You can also refer to:

  • Figures of Speech1
  • Figures of Speech2
  • Essay Writing
  • A Detailed List of 1100 English Verbs
  • Talent Tests and Olympiad Exams: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents
  • Five Ways to Quickly Improve Your Spoken English
  • List of Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives, and Adverbs

Recent Posts

  • Horse Idioms in English
  • Fish Idioms in English
  • Bird Idioms in English
  • Snake Idioms in English
  • Dog Idioms in English
  • Elephant Idioms in English
  • Crocodile Idioms in English
  • Cat Idioms in English
  • Monkey Idioms in English
  • Formal and Informal Introductions in the English Language
  • A list of 1000 Proverbs in English with their Meaning
  • Animal Idioms in English
  • How to write a Cause and Effect Essay?
  • How to write a Compare and Contrast Essay?
  • How to write an Argumentative Essay?
  • English Vocabulary (7)
  • Essay Writing (12)
  • Idioms (10)
  • February 2024
  • January 2023
  • November 2022
  • October 2022
  • February 2022

Copyright © The English Digest. All Rights Reserved.

  • Privacy Policy

Talk to our experts

1800-120-456-456

  • Figure of Speech

ffImage

A figure of speech is a deviation from the ordinary use of words in order to increase their effectiveness. It is also known as a rhetorical figure too because it produces a rhetorical effect. It deviates a statement from its real meaning or common usage to create a new required effect. It usually emphasises, embellishes, or clarifies language in both written and oral form. We can see its usage in literature too. We can even see it in advertisements, posters, slogans, newspapers, magazines, cartoons, etc. 

Figure of speech can easily catch eyes and highlight the purpose of use. It is designed to make a comparison and create a dramatic factor while writing or speaking. Basically, it is a figurative language that may consist of a single word or phrase. It may be a simile, a metaphor or personification to convey the meaning other than the literal meaning. It is usually classified as different schemes. The ordinary sequence or pattern of words is known as a scheme. We usually perform basic four operations as below to create the required effect:

The addition is also known as repetition, expansion, or superabundance.

An omission is also known as subtraction, abridgement or lack.

Transposition is also known as transferring.

Permutation is also known as switching, interchange, substitution, or transmutation.

We can see many varieties in figures of speech because its prime aim is to use language to create the desired effect. For example, the usage of expressions like the mouth of a river, round and round, the eye of a needle, nasty place, a stream of abuse, money talks, butterflies in the stomach, painful pride, etc. We can see it in literature, poems, movies, speeches, etc. Therefore, in this article, the importance of figure of speech along with its various types with examples will be discussed.

Importance of Figure of Speech

It enhances the beauty of the writing. It makes the sentence deeper and leaves the reader with a sense of wonder. It brings life to the words used by the writer. The figure of Speech not only shows the writer's intent but also his purpose in using such language. 

It adds flavour to the writing and makes it so much more enjoyable for the reader.

There are five major categories of figures of speech as below:

Figures of resemblance : It is also known as the figure of relationship. It is made up of simile, metaphor, or kenning.

Figures of emphasis : It is also known as a figure of an understatement. It is made up of hyperbole. 

Figures of sound : It uses alliteration.

Verbal games : It is also known as gymnastics. It includes puns.

Errors : It is created of malapropism and usually generated because of blunder.

Types of Figure Of Speech

Simile - In a simile, two things which are completely unlocked are compared with each other. A simile is introduced by words such as like, so, as etc.

Examples - 

The flower is as pretty as a picture.

He is as sober as a judge.

The floor was as slippery as an eel.

They looked like peas in a pod.

He eats like a pig.

Metaphor - When you compare two unlike or different things or ideas, it is known as a metaphor. It is an informal or implied simile in which the words ‘like’ ‘as’ are avoided. For example, He is like a Giant - Simile and He is a Giant - Metaphor. 

You are the apple of my eye.

Ocean’s sound is music to my ear.

Heart of gold.

He is a night owl.

Time is money.

Personification - In Personification, non-living things,  abstract ideas or qualities are mentioned as humans or living things.

Angry clouds surrounded the island.

Earth was thirsty for water.

The flowers talked to them in the garden.

The wind howled that night.

The snowflakes danced at night.

Apostrophe - In this figure of speech, the writer mentions the absent or inanimate objects as alive and writes about them.

“O, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are”

“Walter, remember when the world was young and all the girls knew Walter's name? Walter, isn't it a shame the way our little world has changed.”

Oxymoron - An Oxymoron is when two words are used together in a sentence but they seem to be in contrast with each other. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that willingly uses two differing ideas. This contradiction creates a paradoxical image in the reader or listener's mind that creates a new concept or meaning for the whole.

Life is bittersweet.

They knew they could feel the joyful sadness on his arrival.

Sweet sorrow.

Peace force.

Free market.

Hyperbole - Hyperbole is when you use words to exaggerate what you mean or emphasize a point. It is used to make something seem bigger or more important than it actually is.

Example - 

It has been ages since I have had a proper meal.

Usain Bolt runs faster than the wind.

I could do this forever.

She’s older than this world.

Everybody knows me.

Pun - A pun is generally used in plays where one word has two different meanings. It is used to create humour. Humorous use of words of different meanings or the words of the same sound but different meanings is known as Pun.

A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is two-tired.

Where do you find giant snails? On the ends of the giants' fingers.

Alliteration - It is a series of words, which commence with the same letter. Alliteration consists of the repetition of a sound or of a letter at the beginning of two or more words.

For Example -

Dirty dolphins dove across the ocean.

Purple pandas painted portraits. 

She sells seashells.

Nick needed new notebooks.

Fred fried frogs’ legs on Friday.

Onomatopoeia - It is the figure of speech where the word is used to describe a sound. When we explain any action by putting the sounds into language, it is known as onomatopoeia. It is generally used in fiction or in nursery rhymes, for eg- Old Macdonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O. Words like whoosh, splat, buzz, oink, click, etc., are used to create this effect. 

I could hear the leaves rustling and the wind howling. 

Bam! He hit the truck at the speed of 80 kmph.

 Anaphora - When many phrases or verses start with the same word, it is known as anaphora.

I came, I saw, I conquered.

We shall not stop. We shall go on and on. We shall move forward.

Assonance - When we use repetition of vowel sounds, it is known as assonance. 

Euphemism - It is known as a euphemism when we replace blunt, offensive, or harsh terms with soft, mild, vague, or indirect terms.

Using letting you go instead of firing

Using a little thin on top instead of getting bald

Using  passed away instead of killed or died

Using stick to the truth instead of calling someone a liar

Irony - If you use terms that contrast with what you say and what you do, it is known as irony. It’s like a difference between what is said and what is meant.

A traffic cop got a ticket for parking in a no-parking zone.

The Titanic was said to be unsinkable but got sunk on its first trip.

When the viewer knows who the killer is in the movie, but the actor doesn’t know that.

Synecdoche - If a part is represented by a whole or a whole is represented by a part, it is known as synecdoche.

Colgate – any toothpaste

Wheels – a car

Employed people – workers

The traffic – many vehicles 

Understatement - When you try to say or show something of no importance or less importance.

Referring a big wound to just a scratch

Saying it little dry instead of desert

Referring big destruction to just an accident

arrow-right

FAQs on Figure of Speech

1. Does the figure of speech make writing interesting?

Yes. Figure of speech adds expression, emphasises the writing and adds clarity to it. Well-researched and detailed content on the figures of speech can be found on the website of Vedantu. It can be downloaded for free in PDF format from both the website and the mobile application of Vedantu.

2. Name five most used figures of speech.

Some of the most common figure of speech are:

Personification

You can access good articles on this topic from the website of Vedantu and its mobile application.

iLmrary

Home » 50 Figure of Speech with Examples and Definitions

50 Figure of Speech with Examples and Definitions

50 Figure of Speech with Examples and Definitions

Hey there, word explorers! Today, we’re diving into the world of super cool language tricks – we call them figures of speech . Think of them as word games that make talking and writing way more fun. It’s like turning ordinary words into a fantastic adventure!

Now, what’s this thing called a figure of speech ? It’s like a special move in the language game. Let’s check out two examples to make it clear.

First up, we have the superhero “ metaphor. ” This one helps us say something is kind of like something else, even if they’re totally different. For example, saying “time is a thief” doesn’t mean time is stealing stuff. It’s just a cool way to show that time can take moments away.

Next on the superhero squad is “personification. ” This trick makes things that aren’t alive act like they are! Picture the wind whispering or the sun smiling. We know wind doesn’t really talk, and the sun doesn’t have a face, but using personification makes our words way more exciting.

Join us on this language adventure in our blog, where we’ll discover more about these word superheroes and how they make talking awesome. Get ready for a journey where words become magic and communication becomes a blast!

50 Figure of Speech with Examples and Definitions

Figures of Speech

What is a Figure of Speech?

A figure of speech is a linguistic device or technique used to add flair, depth, and imagination to language. It involves departing from the literal meaning of words to create vivid and imaginative expressions. Think of it as the spice that adds flavor to our conversations and writing.

Types of Figures of Speech

Simile : A simile compares two things using “like” or “as” to make descriptions vivid. Example: “She was as busy as a bee.”

Metaphor : Metaphors make direct comparisons between two unrelated things to highlight similarities. Example: “Time is money.”

Personification : This figure of speech attributes human qualities or actions to non-human entities. Example: “The wind whispered through the trees.”

Hyperbole : Hyperbole involves exaggeration for emphasis. Example: “I’ve told you a million times” is a classic hyperbolic expression.

Onomatopoeia : Onomatopoeia uses words that imitate sounds. Example: “Buzz,” “meow,” and “hiss”

Alliteration : Alliteration repeats the initial consonant sounds in a series of words. ” Example: Sally sells seashells by the seashore” is an alliterative phrase.

Irony : Irony is a contrast between expectation and reality. Verbal irony is when someone says one thing but means another, Example: “Nice weather” on a rainy day.

Oxymoron : Oxymorons are combinations of contradictory or opposing words, Example:  “bittersweet” or “jumbo shrimp.”

Pun : A pun uses a word or phrase with multiple meanings to create humor or wordplay. Example: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”

Anaphora : Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses for emphasis. Example: “We shall fight in the fields, we shall fight in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.”

Epistrophe : This is the counterpart of anaphora, where a word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive sentences or clauses. Example: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child.”

Euphemism : Euphemism involves using a mild or less direct word or phrase to replace a harsh or blunt one. Example:  “passed away” instead of “died.”

Cliché : A cliché is an overused phrase or expression that has lost its originality or impact, Example: like “time will tell.”

Paradox : A paradox is a statement that appears contradictory but may be true, Example: “less is more.”

Synecdoche : Synecdoche uses a part of something to represent the whole or vice versa. Example:  “all hands on deck” where “hands” represent the whole crew.

Metonymy : Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one word is substituted with another with which it has a close association. Example:  “The White House issued a statement.”

Apostrophe : Apostrophe is a figure of speech where the speaker directly addresses an absent person or an abstract concept. Example:  “O, Death, where is thy sting?”

Antithesis : Antithesis involves contrasting two opposing ideas or words in a balanced or parallel structure, Example: “To be or not to be.”

Chiasmus : In chiasmus, the arrangement of words in a sentence mirrors another sentence’s arrangement, but in reverse order, creating a crisscross effect. Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Litotes : Litotes is a form of understatement where a positive assertion is made by negating its opposite. Example:  “She’s not unkind” means she is kind.

Assonance : Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within words in close proximity. Example:  “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”

Consonance : Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds within or at the end of words in close proximity, Example:  “pitter-patter” or “bit a rat.”

Allusion : An allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing, or idea from history, literature, or popular culture, Example: “He had the strength of Hercules.”

Aposiopesis : Aposiopesis is a figure of speech where a sentence is deliberately left incomplete, often for dramatic effect. Example: “I was going to say, if you don’t stop that…”

Zeugma : Zeugma involves a single word that governs or modifies two or more words but is used differently with each word to create a clever or witty effect. Example:  “She stole my heart and my wallet.”

Aphorism : An aphorism is a concise statement that expresses a general truth or principle. Example: “Actions speak louder than words.”

Pleonasm : Pleonasm involves using more words than necessary to express an idea, often for emphasis or redundancy. Example: “free gift.”

Syllepsis : Syllepsis is a figure of speech where a single word is applied to two or more other words but must be understood differently in relation to each. Example: “He stole my heart and my pen.”

Epanalepsis : Epanalepsis is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning and end of a sentence. Example: “The king is dead, long live the king!”

Procatalepsis : Procatalepsis is a figure of speech in which an argument or objection is anticipated and addressed. It’s often used to strengthen one’s position in an argument.

Enjambment : Enjambment occurs when a sentence or phrase runs from one line of poetry to the next without a pause or a stop at the end of the line.

Paralipsis : Paralipsis is when you state that you’re not going to talk about a topic but then proceed to mention it. It’s often used to subtly bring up sensitive subjects.

Aporia : Aporia is a figure of speech that expresses doubt or confusion for rhetorical effect. It’s often used to raise questions without providing direct answers.

Aptronym : An aptronym is a name aptly suited to a person’s occupation or personality, often in a humorous or ironic way. Example: a dentist named Dr. Payne.

Bathos : Bathos is a sudden shift from high or serious language to low or mundane language for humorous or ironic effect. It’s often used in literature and comedy.

Cacophony : Cacophony is the use of harsh, discordant sounds in language for artistic effect, often to create a jarring or unsettling atmosphere.

Epanodos : Epanodos is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is repeated in reverse order for emphasis. Example: “Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love.”

Periphrasis : Periphrasis is a figure of speech where longer, more complex words or phrases are used to describe something instead of shorter, more direct terms. It can be used to add sophistication or to avoid using a direct term.

Rhetorical Question : A rhetorical question is a question asked for effect or to make a point rather than to elicit a genuine answer. Example: “Isn’t it a beautiful day?”

Homoioteleuton : Homoioteleuton is the repetition of similar endings in adjacent or parallel words or phrases for rhythmic or poetic effect. Example: “The time has come, the time is now.”

Aptronym : An aptronym is a name that is particularly suited to a person’s profession or characteristics, often humorously or ironically. Example: a dentist named Dr. Drill.

Procatalepsis : Procatalepsis is a rhetorical device where an argument anticipates and addresses potential objections or counterarguments.

Circumlocution : Circumlocution is the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive. It can be used for politeness or to create suspense.

Hendiadys : Hendiadys is a figure of speech where a single idea is conveyed using two nouns joined by “and.” Example: “I have a house and home” to mean “I have a comfortable home.”

Irony : Irony is a figure of speech where words are used to convey a meaning that is opposite to their literal meaning or to express a situation where there is a discrepancy between appearance and reality.

Aphorism : An aphorism is a concise statement of a general truth or principle, often presented in a memorable and impactful way. Example: “Actions speak louder than words.”

Cliché : A cliché is a phrase or expression that has become overused and lost its originality or impact due to frequent repetition. Examples:  “time will tell” or “every cloud has a silver lining.”

Anacoluthon : An anacoluthon is a figure of speech in which a speaker or writer starts a sentence or clause with one grammatical structure but shifts to another mid-sentence. It can be used to create emphasis or reflect the speaker’s thought process.

Epistrophe : Epistrophe is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences. Example:  “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child.”

Polysyndeton : Polysyndeton is a figure of speech characterized by the use of multiple conjunctions (e.g., “and,” “but,” “or”) in close succession for emphasis. It can create a sense of urgency or intensity.

Antimetabole : Antimetabole is the repetition of words in successive clauses but in reverse order, creating a balanced and symmetrical structure. Example: “Eat to live, not live to eat.”

Metalepsis : Metalepsis is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is substituted with another word that is related in meaning. It can create rhetorical effects or emphasize certain aspects.

Transferred Epithet : Transferred epithet is a figure of speech in which an adjective that grammatically qualifies one noun is used to qualify another noun. Example: “He wore a thoughtful smile.”

Chleuasmos : Chleuasmos is a figure of speech characterized by jesting or making fun of something, often used to ridicule or mock. It’s commonly used in humor and satire.

Antistasis : Antistasis is a figure of speech where a word is repeated in the same sentence or clause but with a different meaning each time. This repetition can create ambiguity or highlight multiple interpretations.

You May also Like Modal Verbs 

You may also like

Adverbial Phrase with Examples In English

Adverbial Phrase with Examples In English

An adverbial phrase is like an adverb in grammar but with some extra words. As we know, It is used...

Conjunctive Adverbs Definition, Meaning with Examples

Conjunctive Adverbs: Definition, Meaning with Examples

Conjunctive adverbs are crucial grammar tools that connect parts of a sentence, showing...

Adverb of Place Meaning, Usage with Examples

Adverb of Place Meaning, Usage with Examples

Adverb of place in grammar helps us understand where something happens. They’re like little...

Adverbs of Degree Definition, Usage, with Examples

Adverb of Degree Definition, Usage, with Examples

Adverb of degree are words in grammar that show how much or how strongly something happens. They...

Adverbs of Frequency Definition, Types with Examples

Adverbs of Frequency Definition, Types with Examples

Adverbs of frequency in grammar help us talk about how often we do things. They tell us if...

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives with Examples

Comparative Adjectives Definition, Formation with Examples

Comparative adjectives help us compare things. They show how one thing is different or similar to...

Press ESC to close

Or check our popular categories....

Figures of Speech with Examples

30 Figures of Speech with Examples in English

In English, Figures of Speech are special ways to use words that make our writing more interesting. They help us say things in a creative way. For example, when we compare two things using ‘like’ or ‘as’, it’s called a simile. Metaphors are when we say something is something else, to make a strong picture in the reader’s mind. There’s also personification, where we talk about things like they’re people. And hyperbole, that’s when we really exaggerate to make a point. All these Figures of Speech make our writing more fun and help us express our ideas better.

30 Figures of Speech

  • Simile: Similes are comparisons that use the words “like” or “as” to highlight similarities between two different things. They create vivid mental images and add a touch of poetic beauty to our expressions. Example: Her laughter was as melodious as a chorus of songbirds.
  • Metaphor: Metaphors also make comparisons, but they do so by directly stating that one thing is another. Metaphors are powerful tools that help us convey complex ideas or emotions by associating them with more relatable concepts. Example: Time is a relentless river, sweeping us along its currents.
  • Personification: Personification is a figure of speech in which human qualities are attributed to inanimate objects, animals, or abstract ideas. It breathes life into the inanimate and creates a deeper connection between the reader or listener and the subject. Example: The stars danced playfully in the night sky.
  • Hyperbole: Hyperbole involves deliberate exaggeration for emphasis or dramatic effect. It is an excellent tool for adding humor, intensifying emotions, or making a point. Example: I’ve told you a million times to clean your room!
  • Alliteration: Alliteration refers to the repetition of initial consonant sounds in a sequence of words. It adds a musical quality to language and enhances the rhythm and flow of a sentence. Example: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia is the use of words that imitate the sounds they describe. It creates a sensory experience for the reader or listener, bringing words to life. Example: The thunder roared and the rain pitter-pattered on the windowpane.
  • Irony: Irony is a figure of speech that expresses the opposite of what is expected or intended. It adds a layer of complexity, surprise, or humor to our language. Example: The fire station burned down in a devastating fire.
  • Oxymoron: An oxymoron combines two contradictory terms to create a new expression that often reveals a deeper truth or paradox. Example: Bittersweet, deafening silence filled the room.
  • Metonymy: Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted with another closely related term to represent it. It adds variety and depth to our language. Example: The pen is mightier than the sword.
  • Synecdoche: Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole or vice versa. It allows for concise yet powerful expressions. Example: All hands on deck! (Referring to the need for all people on the ship to help)
  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within words that are close in proximity. It creates a musical quality and enhances the rhythm of a sentence. Example: The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
  • Euphemism: Euphemism involves the use of mild or indirect expressions to replace harsh or unpleasant words or phrases. It softens the impact of sensitive or taboo subjects. Example: He passed away peacefully in his sleep.
  • Paradox: A paradox is a statement that appears contradictory but reveals a hidden truth or deeper meaning. It challenges our thinking and provokes reflection. Example: Less is more.
  • Allusion: An allusion is a reference to a well-known person, place, event, or work of art, which adds depth and layers of meaning to a piece of writing. Example: She had the Mona Lisa smile.
  • Apostrophe: Apostrophe is a figure of speech in which a speaker directly addresses an absent person, an inanimate object, or an abstract concept. It adds an element of directness and emotional intensity. Example: O, Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
  • Litotes: Litotes involves the use of understatement to express a positive statement by negating its opposite. It creates emphasis and often adds a touch of irony. Example: The concert wasn’t bad; in fact, it was quite enjoyable.
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is the use of objects, actions, or ideas to represent deeper meanings or concepts. It adds layers of significance and invites interpretation. Example: The dove is a symbol of peace.
  • Antithesis: Antithesis involves the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas or words within a sentence to create a striking contrast and highlight a point. Example: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
  • Anaphora: Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses. It adds emphasis, rhythm, and creates a memorable impact. Example: We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets.
  • Chiasmus: Chiasmus is a figure of speech in which the order of words or phrases is reversed in parallel clauses, creating a mirror-like structure. It adds balance and poetic elegance to a sentence. Example: You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.
  • Synesthesia: Synesthesia is a figure of speech that blends different sensory experiences to evoke a vivid and unique perception. It combines unrelated senses to create a sensory crossover. Example: The sweet sound of her laughter tasted like strawberries.
  • Hyperbaton: Hyperbaton is the deliberate rearrangement of words or phrases in a sentence for emphasis or stylistic effect. It disrupts the normal word order and draws attention to specific elements. Example: Into the room walked a mysterious stranger.
  • Zeugma: Zeugma involves using a single word to modify or govern two or more other words in a sentence, often in a surprising or unexpected way. It creates a play on multiple meanings. Example: She broke his heart and his favorite record.
  • Meiosis: Meiosis, also known as understatement or belittling, involves intentionally downplaying the significance or intensity of something for ironic or humorous effect. Example: It’s just a flesh wound.
  • Polyptoton: Polyptoton is a figure of speech that involves repeating the same root word in different forms within a sentence or phrase. It adds emphasis and rhetorical flourish. Example: I dreamed of running and becoming a great runner.
  • Paronomasia: Paronomasia, also known as pun, involves using words with similar sounds but different meanings to create a play on words. It adds humor, wit, or a clever twist. Example: I used to be a baker, but I couldn’t make enough dough.
  • Epiphora: Epiphora, also called epistrophe, is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences. It creates a rhythmic pattern and reinforces a central idea. Example: Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.
  • Antanaclasis: Antanaclasis is a figure of speech that involves repeating a word or phrase while changing its meaning within the context. It adds cleverness and rhetorical impact. Example: Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
  • Catachresis: Catachresis refers to the use of a strained or awkward metaphor or figure of speech. It creates an unexpected or jarring effect to emphasize a point or convey a unique perspective. Example: I walked a long road of broken dreams.
  • Syllepsis: Syllepsis involves using a single word to modify two or more other words in different senses within a sentence. It creates ambiguity or surprise by applying the word in contrasting ways. Example: She lost her keys and her temper.

figure of speech in english

30 Figures of Speech with examples

Categorized in:

Share Article:

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Related articles, verb phrase, definition, types, structure and examples, adjective phrase, definition, types and examples, prepositional phrase, definition, usage and examples, collective nouns and their 100 examples, noun phrase, definition, usage and examples, other stories, conditionals: four different conditional sentences with examples, sentence structure with examples in english.

IMAGES

  1. 25 Important Figures of Speech with Easy Examples • 7ESL

    figure of speech in english

  2. 8 Types of Figure of Speech, Definition and Examples

    figure of speech in english

  3. All Figure of Speech With Examples

    figure of speech in english

  4. 6 Figures of speech in English Literature with examples pdf

    figure of speech in english

  5. Top-22 Figures of Speech in English (Part-1)

    figure of speech in english

  6. 25 Figure of Speech Examples and Expressions

    figure of speech in english

VIDEO

  1. Figures of speech| Figures of Speech in English

  2. English

  3. Figure Speech

  4. figure of speech BA 2 semester English

  5. Figure of Speech in English Grammar

  6. NTA NET English: [Figures of Speech: Episode 10]-Figures of Arrangement

COMMENTS

  1. Figure of Speech

    A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used in a non-literal way to create an effect. Learn the types, examples, and uses of figures of speech in literature and writing, such as simile, metaphor, irony, and more.

  2. Figure of Speech

    A figure of speech is a literary device in which language is used in an unusual or "figured" way to produce a stylistic effect. Learn the two main groups of figures of speech (tropes and schemes) and how to identify them with examples. Find out the difference between figurative language and figures of speech, and explore the names and functions of common tropes and schemes.

  3. Figures of Speech: Definition and Examples

    A figure of speech is a word or phrase using figurative language—language that has other meaning than its normal definition. In other words, figures of speeches rely on implied or suggested meaning, rather than a dictionary definition. We express and develop them through hundreds of different rhetorical techniques, from specific types like ...

  4. 20 Figures of Speech in English: Meaning and Examples

    Example: Using "passed away" instead of "died" to refer to someone's death. Explanation: "Passed away" is considered more gentle and considerate than "died.". 11. Cliché. As a figure of speech, a cliché refers to an expression, idea, or phrase that has been so overused that it has lost its originality and impact.

  5. Figures of Speech

    The figures of speech belonging to this category are used to provide emphasis or show how important or unimportant something is. Hyperbole, antithesis, oxymoron, irony and litotes are figures of speech that can be used for this purpose. Examples of Figures of Speech. Here are a few examples of the different figures of speech in English grammar.

  6. Figure of speech

    figure of speech, any intentional deviation from literal statement or common usage that emphasizes, clarifies, or embellishes both written and spoken language.Forming an integral part of language, figures of speech are found in oral literatures as well as in polished poetry and prose and in everyday speech. Greeting-card rhymes, advertising slogans, newspaper headlines, the captions of ...

  7. Figure of Speech: Explanation and Examples

    A figure of speech is used to express an idea more clearly or more interestingly. For example: Jack has a few skeletons in the cupboard. (This means "Jack has a few secrets." It is a figure of speech. The words are not used in their literal sense. In other words, Jack does not literally have any skeletons in his cupboard.)

  8. Figure of speech

    A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that intentionally deviates from ordinary language use to produce a rhetorical effect. Figures of speech are traditionally classified into schemes, which vary the ordinary sequence of words, and tropes, where words carry a meaning other than what they ordinarily signify.. An example of a scheme is a polysyndeton: the repetition of a ...

  9. Figures of Speech: Essential Guide for Effective Communication

    June 16, 2023. Figures of speech are essential components of language that add an extra layer of depth and nuance to communication, enhancing written and spoken content. These devices are used in various forms of literature, including novels, poems, essays, and plays, as well as in everyday conversations. By intentionally deviating from the ...

  10. 25 Important Figures of Speech with Easy Examples • 7ESL

    Antanaclasis. Antanaclasis is a figure of speech in which a word is repeated within the same sentence or clause, but with a different or opposing meaning each time. It serves to create emphasis on a particular point and often adds a playful or humorous tone to the writing. Example: "Your argument is sound…all sound!".

  11. Figures of Speech: Definition and Types with Examples

    Figures of speech are literary devices that are used to create a more imaginative and engaging way of speaking or writing. These literary devices are often used to create vivid images or to express complex ideas in a more concise and impactful way. Some common examples of figures of speech include metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole ...

  12. Mastering Figure of Speech in English Grammar with Examples

    Figures of speech, the vibrant tools of expression, add flair and depth to language, transforming mundane words into captivating art. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the world of figure of speech in English grammar, exploring various types and providing practical examples to illustrate their usage.Whether you're a wordsmith or just starting to explore the beauty of language ...

  13. What is Figure of Speech? Definition, Examples of Figures of Speech

    Figure of speech definition: Figure of speech is the use of language to add richness to the literal meaning of words. Common Figures of Speech. Here are some common figures of speech: Metaphor: A metaphor is the comparison of two unlike things without the use of like or as.. The boy was a wild animal in the toy store, for he reckless grabbed at every toy he saw.

  14. The Top 20 Figures of Speech

    The Top 20 Figures of Speech. Illustration by Hugo Lin. ThoughtCo. A figure of speech is a rhetorical device that achieves a special effect by using words in a distinctive way. Though there are hundreds of figures of speech, but here we'll focus on 20 top examples. You'll probably remember many of these terms from your English classes.

  15. Figures of Speech

    Metaphor. A figure of speech that says that one thing is another different thing. Hyperbole. A figure of speech that uses an exaggerated or extravagant statement to create a strong emotional response. Oxymoron. A figure of speech that deliberately uses two contradictory ideas.

  16. 50 Figures of Speech (Types & Examples)

    For finding figures of speech in the writing, it is necessary to look for words or phrases that are used in a non-literal way. For example, if someone says 'my heart is breaking', he is using a metaphor to describe his emotions. 50 Figures Of Speech With Examples. Here is a list of 50 figures of speech used in English literature and daily ...

  17. Figure of Speech: Definition and Examples

    In common usage, a figure of speech is a word or phrase that means something more or something other than it seems to say—the opposite of a literal expression. As Professor Brian Vickers has observed, "It is a sad proof of the decline of rhetoric that in modern colloquial English the phrase 'a figure of speech' has come to mean something false, illusory or insincere."

  18. Figures of Speech in English

    Definition: An allusion is one of the figures of speech in English that makes a reference to a person, place, event, or idea from history, literature, mythology, or culture. It is a literary device used by writers and speakers to add depth, meaning, and complexity to their work. Explanation:

  19. Figure of Speech

    For example, the usage of expressions like the mouth of a river, round and round, the eye of a needle, nasty place, a stream of abuse, money talks, butterflies in the stomach, painful pride, etc. We can see it in literature, poems, movies, speeches, etc. Therefore, in this article, the importance of figure of speech along with its various types ...

  20. Figure of Speech Examples by Type

    A figure of speech is a key device used in literature as well as everyday life. Gain insight into the different types with these figure of speech examples. ... There are a wealth of these literary tools in the English language. Examples of Figures of Speech. Figures of speech lend themselves particularly well to literature and poetry. They also ...

  21. 50 Figure of Speech with Examples and Definitions

    Types of Figures of Speech. Simile: A simile compares two things using "like" or "as" to make descriptions vivid. Example: "She was as busy as a bee.". Metaphor: Metaphors make direct comparisons between two unrelated things to highlight similarities. Example: "Time is money.".

  22. 30 Figures of Speech with Examples in English

    In English, Figures of Speech are special ways to use words that make our writing more interesting. They help us say things in a creative way. For example, when we compare two things using 'like' or 'as', it's called a simile. Metaphors are when we say something is something else, to make a strong picture in the reader's mind.