You'll be able to express yourself with style once you learn these rhetorical devices and tropes. This vocabulary list covers a wide range of techniques used in formal speech and writing, from alliteration to zeugma. You'll master metonymy, investigate irony, understand understatement, and more.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. ad hominem
    appealing to personal considerations rather than to reason
  2. alliteration
    use of the same consonant at the beginning of each word
  3. amplification
    addition of extra material or illustration or clarifying detail
  4. anacoluthon
    an abrupt change within a sentence from one syntactic structure to another
  5. anadiplosis
    repetition of the final words of a sentence or line at the beginning of the next
  6. anaphora
    repetition of a word or phrase to begin successive clauses
  7. anastrophe
    the reversal of the normal order of words
  8. antiphrasis
    the use of a word in a sense opposite to its normal sense
  9. antithesis
    the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas for balance
  10. aposiopesis
    breaking off in the middle of a sentence
  11. apostrophe
    an address to an absent or imaginary person
  12. apposition
    the act of placing close together or side by side
  13. archaism
    the use of an outdated expression
  14. assonance
    the repetition of similar vowels in successive words
  15. asyndeton
    omission of conjunctions where they would normally be used
  16. bathos
    a change from a serious subject to a disappointing one
  17. cacophony
    loud confusing disagreeable sounds
  18. catachresis
    strained or paradoxical use of words either in error (as `blatant' to mean `flagrant') or deliberately (as in a mixed metaphor: `blind mouths')
  19. chiasmus
    inversion in the second of two parallel phrases
  20. climax
    the decisive moment in a novel or play
  21. colloquialism
    an expression that seeks to imitate informal speech
  22. dialectic
    arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments
  23. discourse
    extended verbal expression in speech or writing
  24. ecphonesis
    an exclamatory rhetorical device
  25. epideictic
    designed primarily for rhetorical display
  26. epigraph
    a quotation at the beginning of some piece of writing
  27. epistrophe
    repetition of the ends of successive sentences, verses, etc.
  28. epithet
    descriptive word or phrase
  29. eponym
    the name derived from a person (real or imaginary)
  30. eristic
    the art of logical disputation (especially if specious)
  31. euphemism
    an inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one
  32. euphony
    any pleasing and harmonious sounds
  33. exordium
    the introductory section of an oration or discourse
  34. hendiadys
    use of two conjoined nouns instead of a noun and modifier
  35. hypallage
    reversal of the syntactic relation of two words
  36. hyperbaton
    reversal of normal word order (as in `cheese I love')
  37. hyperbole
    extravagant exaggeration
  38. hypothesis
    a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence
  39. hysteron proteron
    reversal of normal order of two words or sentences etc.
  40. invective
    abusive language used to express blame or censure
  41. irony
    incongruity between what is expected and what occurs
  42. jargon
    technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject
  43. litotes
    understatement for rhetorical effect
  44. maxim
    a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits
  45. metaphor
    a figure of speech that suggests a non-literal similarity
  46. metonymy
    substituting the name of a feature for the name of the thing
  47. non sequitur
    a conclusion that does not follow from the premises
  48. onomatopoeia
    using words that imitate the sound they denote
  49. oxymoron
    conjoined contradictory terms
  50. paradox
    a statement that contradicts itself
  51. paralipsis
    suggesting by deliberately concise treatment that much of significance is omitted
  52. parallelism
    similarity by virtue of corresponding
  53. parenthesis
    a message that departs from the main subject
  54. parody
    a composition that imitates or misrepresents a style
  55. paronomasia
    a humorous play on words
  56. periphrasis
    an act of expressing things in an indirect or roundabout way
  57. personification
    representing an abstract quality or idea as a human
  58. pleonasm
    using more words than necessary
  59. polyptoton
    repetition of a word in a different case or inflection in the same sentence
  60. polysyndeton
    using several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted (as in `he ran and jumped and laughed for joy')
  61. prolepsis
    anticipating and answering objections in advance
  62. prosopopoeia
    representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature
  63. rebuttal
    the speech act of refuting by offering a contrary argument
  64. reductio ad absurdum
    (reduction to the absurd) a disproof by showing that the consequences of the proposition are absurd; or a proof of a proposition by showing that its negation leads to a contradiction
  65. repetition
    the continued use of the same word or word pattern
  66. simile
    a figure of speech expressing a resemblance between things
  67. syllepsis
    use of a word to govern two or more words though agreeing in number or case etc. with only one
  68. syllogism
    reasoning in which a conclusion is derived from two premises
  69. 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
  70. syncope
    the loss of sounds from within a word
  71. synecdoche
    using part of something to refer to the whole thing
  72. tautology
    a statement that is necessarily true
  73. thesis
    an unproved statement advanced as a premise in an argument
  74. topos
    a traditional theme or motif or literary convention
  75. trope
    language used in a nonliteral sense
  76. understatement
    something said in a restrained way for ironic contrast
  77. zeugma
    rhetorical use of a word to govern two or more words
Created on January 11, 2017 (updated March 29, 2017)

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