rhetorical device

A rhetorical device is a use of language that is intended to have an effect on its audience. Repetition, figurative language, and even rhetorical questions are all examples of rhetorical devices. You hear me?

Rhetorical devices are common, such as saying language is a living beast: that's a metaphor — one of the most common rhetorical devices. Another is alliteration, like saying "bees behave badly in Boston." Rhetorical devices go beyond the meaning of words to create effects that are creative and imaginative, adding literary quality to writing.

Definitions of rhetorical device
  1. noun
    a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 59 types...
    hide 59 types...
    anacoluthia, anacoluthon
    an abrupt change within a sentence from one syntactic structure to another
    asyndeton
    the omission of conjunctions where they would normally be used
    repetition
    the repeated use of the same word or word pattern as a rhetorical device
    anastrophe, inversion
    the reversal of the normal order of words
    antiphrasis
    the use of a word in a sense opposite to its normal sense (especially in irony)
    antithesis
    the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas to give a feeling of balance
    antinomasia
    substitution of a title for a name
    apophasis
    mentioning something by saying it will not be mentioned
    aposiopesis
    breaking off in the middle of a sentence (as by writers of realistic conversations)
    apostrophe
    address to an absent or imaginary person
    catachresis
    strained or paradoxical use of words either in error (as `blatant' to mean `flagrant') or deliberately (as in a mixed metaphor: `blind mouths')
    chiasmus
    inversion in the second of two parallel phrases
    climax
    arrangement of clauses in ascending order of forcefulness
    conversion
    interchange of subject and predicate of a proposition
    ecphonesis, exclamation
    an exclamatory rhetorical device
    emphasis
    special and significant stress by means of position or repetition
    enallage
    a substitution of part of speech or gender or number or tense etc. (e.g., editorial `we' for `I')
    epanorthosis
    immediate rephrasing for intensification or justification
    epiplexis
    a rhetorical device in which the speaker reproaches the audience in order to incite or convince them
    hendiadys
    use of two conjoined nouns instead of a noun and modifier
    hypallage
    reversal of the syntactic relation of two words (as in `her beauty's face')
    hyperbaton
    reversal of normal word order (as in `cheese I love')
    hypozeugma
    use of a series of subjects with a single predicate
    hypozeuxis
    use of a series of parallel clauses (as in `I came, I saw, I conquered')
    hysteron proteron
    reversal of normal order of two words or sentences etc. (as in `bred and born')
    litotes, meiosis
    understatement for rhetorical effect (especially when expressing an affirmative by negating its contrary)
    onomatopoeia
    using words that imitate the sound they denote
    paraleipsis, paralepsis, paralipsis, preterition
    suggesting by deliberately concise treatment that much of significance is omitted
    paregmenon
    juxtaposing words having a common derivation (as in `sense and sensibility')
    polysyndeton
    using several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted (as in `he ran and jumped and laughed for joy')
    prolepsis
    anticipating and answering objections in advance
    wellerism
    a comparison comprising a well-known quotation followed by a facetious sequel
    figure, figure of speech, image, trope
    language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense
    ecphrasis, ekphrasis
    a literary description of a work of visual art
    parallelism
    the repetition of similar or equivalent syntactical constructions, often for rhetorical effect
    antimetabole
    (rhetoric) the repetition of the same words in reverse order
    topicalization
    (linguistics) emphasis placed on the topic or focus of a sentence by preposing it to the beginning of the sentence; placing the topic at the beginning of the sentence is typical for English
    anadiplosis, reduplication
    repetition of the final words of a sentence or line at the beginning of the next
    epanalepsis
    repetition after intervening words
    epanodos
    repetition of a group of words in reverse order
    epiphora, epistrophe
    repetition of the ends of two or more successive sentences, verses, etc.
    gemination
    the doubling of a word or phrase (as for rhetorical effect)
    ploce
    (rhetoric) repetition to gain special emphasis or extend meaning
    polyptoton
    repetition of a word in a different case or inflection in the same sentence
    anaphora, epanaphora
    repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses
    anaphora
    using a pronoun or similar word instead of repeating a word used earlier
    symploce
    repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning and another at the end of successive clauses, i.e., simultaneous use of anaphora and epistrophe
    conceit
    an elaborate poetic image or a far-fetched comparison of very dissimilar things
    irony
    a trope that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs
    exaggeration, hyperbole
    extravagant exaggeration
    kenning
    a compound word used as a conventional metaphorical name for something, specially in Old English and Old Norse poetry
    metaphor
    a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity
    metonymy
    substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in `they counted heads')
    oxymoron
    conjoining contradictory terms (as in `deafening silence')
    personification, prosopopoeia
    representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature
    simile
    a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with `like' or `as')
    synecdoche
    a figure of speech in which part of something is used to refer to or represent the whole thing (or vice versa)
    zeugma
    use of a word to govern two or more words though appropriate to only one
    synesthesia
    a figure of speech in which an author appeals to more than one of the five senses
    type of:
    device
    something in an artistic work designed to achieve a particular effect
Word Family