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List of rhetorical terms

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 N.B.:

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 (i) The list contains some of the more frequent rhetorical figures but is far from complete. More comprehensive accounts are available in standard textbooks (e.g. Morwood (1999) 150-54: ‘Some literary terms’) or on the web (e.g. Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric: http://rhetoric.byu.edu/).

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 (ii) Most of the terms derive from, or indeed are, either Greek or Latin; we have therefore provided an etymological explanation for each, not least to show that the terminological abracadabra makes perfectly good sense – even though it takes a smattering of ancient Greek and Latin to see this.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 (iii) The English examples are from Shakespeare. Unless otherwise indicated they come from the Pyramus-and-Thisbe episode in Act 5 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The main reason for drawing on the oeuvre of an (early) modern author for illustration is to convey a sense of the continuity of classical and classicizing rhetoric in the western cultural tradition. And using a Shakespeare text that engages in allusive dialogue with Ovid’s Metamorphoses ought to generate some interesting cross-fertilization with the AS-level set text in verse (the Pentheus-episode from Metamorphoses 3).

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 alliteration: the repeated use of the same sound at the beginning of words in close proximity.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Etymology: from (un-classical) Latin alliterare, ‘to begin with the same letter’.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Examples: ‘O dainty duck! O dear!’ ‘When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.’

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 ‘Whereat, with blade, with bloody, blameful blade/ He bravely broach’d his

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 boiling bloody breast.’

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 anacoluthon: a sudden break in a sentence, resulting in an incomplete grammatical or syntactical unit; a change in construction in mid-sentence.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Etymology: from Greek anakolouthos, ‘inconsistent, anomalous, inconsequent’.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Example: ‘No, you unnatural hags,/ I will have such revenges on you both,/ That all the world shall – I will do such things…’ (King Lear, Act 2, Scene 4).

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 anaphora: the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of several successive syntactic units.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Etymology: from Greek anapherein, ‘to carry back, to repeat’.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Example: ‘O grim-look’d night! O night with hue so black! O night, which ever art when day is not! O night, O night, alack, alack, alack!’

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 antithesis: literally ‘a placing against’; the (balanced) juxtaposition of contrasting ideas.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Etymology: from Greek antitithenai, ‘to place (tithenai) against (anti-)’.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Example: ‘’Tide life, ’tide death, I come without delay.’

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 apo koinou: two constructions that have a word or phrase in common; or, put the other way around, a word or phrase shared by two different constructions.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Etymology: from the Greek phrase apo koinou lambanein, used by ancient grammarians of two clauses taking (apo … lambanein) a word in common (koinou, the genitive of koinon after the preposition apo).

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Example: ‘There was a man – dwelt by the churchyard’ (The Winter’s Tale, Act 2, Scene 1).

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 asyndeton: the absence or omission of conjunctions (see also below polysundeton).

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 Etymology: from Greek asyndetos, ‘not (a-privativum) bound (detos, from dein, to bind) together (sun)’.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Example: ‘O Fates, come, come, cut thread and thrum; quail, crush, conclude, and quell!’

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 captatio benevolentiae: a Latin phrase that literally means ‘the capture of goodwill’, i.e. a rhetorical technique designed to render the audience kindly disposed towards the speaker.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 (Botched) example: ‘If we offend, it is with our good will. That you should think, we come not to offend. But with good will.’ ((Note that Shakespeare’s character here, hilariously, ‘translates’ the Latin benevolentia of the rhetorical figure, but, perversely, refers to the ‘good will’ of himself, the speaker, rather than that of the audience.))

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 chiasmus: the repetition of a grammatical pattern in inverse order: a b – b a.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Etymology: from Greek chiasmos, ‘a placing crosswise’, from the letter X (pronounced chi) of the Greek alphabet. (Imagine the two a at either end of the first diagonal line of X, and at either end of the second diagonal line the two b; then read the top half first and afterwards the bottom half and you get a b – b a.)

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Example: ‘(a) Sweet Moon, (b) I thank thee … (b), I thank thee, (a) Moon…’

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 climax: a series or sequence of units that gradually increase in import or force.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 Etymology: from Greek klimax, ‘ladder’.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Example: ‘Tongue, lose thy light;/ Moon take thy flight: Now die, die, die, die, die’ (Pyramus before stabbing himself).

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 ellipsis: the omission of one or more words in a sentence necessary for a complete grammatical construction.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 Etymology: from Greek elleipein, ‘to fall short, leave out’.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 Example: ‘I neither know it nor can learn of him’ (Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1). ((Filling in the items elided would results in something like ‘I neither know it nor can I learn anything about it from him’.))

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 figura etymologica: a Latin phrase referring to words of the same etymological derivation used in close proximity to one another.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Example: ‘So long lives this, and this gives life to thee’(Sonnet 18).

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 hendiadys: one idea expressed by two words joined by ‘and’, such as two nouns used in place of a noun and an adjective.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Etymology: from Greek hen-dia-duoin, ‘one thing (hen) by means of (dia) two

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 (duoin)’.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 Example: ‘The service and the loyalty I owe’(Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 4), for ‘the loyal service’.

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 homoioteleuton: similarity of ending in words in close proximity to one another.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Etymology: from Greek homoios, ‘like’, and teleute, ‘ending’.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 Example: ‘My mother weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands’(The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 2, Scene 3). ((Note that the last item in the list (wring-ing) contains the -ing sound twice, a stylistic climax that reinforces the climax in content achieved through the anthropomorphism of the cat and the unexpected switch from sound (weeping etc.) to silence (wringing).))

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 hyperbaton: dislocation of the customary or logical word order, with the result that items that normally go together are separated.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Etymology: from Greek huperbaino, ‘to step (bainein) over (huper-)’. (Imagine, for instance, that if an adjective is placed apart from the noun it modifies you have to ‘step over’ the intervening words to get from one to the other.)

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 Example: ‘Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall’ (Measure for Measure, Act 2, Scene 1). ((Natural word order would require ‘some fall by virtue’. Note that the hyperbaton also produces a chiasmus – Some (a) rise (b) by sin, and some (b) by virtue (a) fall – which is ideally suited to reinforce the elegant antitheses of sin and virtue, rising and falling. One could further argue that the hyperbaton, which produces disorder on the level of grammar and syntax, is the perfect figure of speech for the basic idea of the utterance: moral disorder, which manifests itself in the reward of sin and the punishment of virtue and implies that our universe is devoid of justice, i.e. as chaotic as the hyperbatic word order.))

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 hyperbole: the use of exaggeration.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 Etymology: from Greek huperballein, ‘to throw (ballein, from which derives bole, “a throwing”) over or beyond (huper)’.

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 Example: ‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/ Making the green one red’ (Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2). ((‘To incarnadine’ means ‘to turn into the colour of flesh (Latin caro/carnis, carnis), dye red, redden’. A more familiar term with a similar etymology is ‘incarnation’.))

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 husteron proteron: A Greek phrase, meaning ‘the latter (husteron) first (proteron)’, producing chronological disorder.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 Example: ‘Th’ Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral,/ With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder’ (Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3, Scene10). ((The logical sequence would require ‘they turn the rudder and fly’. The example is a beautiful instance of enactment since the husteron proteron conveys a sense of how hastily (‘heel over head’ as it were) everyone is trying to get away.))

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 litotes: a ‘double negation’, in which a statement, quality, or attribute is affirmed by the negation of its opposite; assertion by means of understatement, frequently for the purpose of intensification.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 Etymology: from Greek litos, ‘simple, plain, petty, small’.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 Example: ‘That I was not ignoble of descent’ (Henry VI, Act 4, Scene 1). ((Note that in modern literary criticism litotes is often used loosely to refer to simple negation (e.g. Shakespeare, Sonnet 130: ‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…’).))

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 onomatopoesis/onomatopoeia: expressions where the sound suggests the sense.

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 Etymology: from Greek onoma (genitive onomatos), ‘word, name’, and poiein

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 (noun: poesis), ‘to make’.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 Example: ‘Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell/ Hark! now I hear them, – Ding- dong, bell’ (The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2).

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 oxymoron: a ‘pointedly foolish’ expression, resulting from the juxtaposition or combination of two words of contradictory meaning.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 Etymology: from Greek oxus, ‘sharp’, and môros, ‘stupid’.

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 Examples: ‘“A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus/ And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.” Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!/ That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow./ How shall we find the concord of this discord?’

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 paronomasia: a play upon words that sound alike; a pun.

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 Etymology: from Greek para-, ‘…’, and onoma, ‘word, name’.

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 Examples: ‘Our sport shall be to take what they mistake’; ‘You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear/ the smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor…’

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 pleonasm: a ‘fullness of expression’, that is, the use of more words than is strictly speaking necessary to convey the desired meaning.

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 Etymology: from Greek pleonazein, ‘to be more than enough or superfluous’.

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 Example: ‘the most unkindest cut of all’ (Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2, about

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 Brutus’ stabbing of Caesar ). ((Shakespeare expresses the degree to which Brutus’ unkindness outdid that of all the others pleonastically by using both the adverb ‘most’ and the superlative ending -est.))

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 polyptoton: the repetition of the same word, variously inflected.

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 Etymology: from Greek poluptoton, ‘many (polu) cases (from ptôsis, i.e. fall, grammatical case)’.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 Example: ‘Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am/ A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam.’

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 polysyndeton: the frequent use of conjunctions such as ‘and’ or ‘or’ even when they are not required.

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 Etymology: from Greek polusyndetos, ‘many times (polu) bound (detos, from dein, to bind) together (sun)’.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 Example: ‘Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads’ (The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 1).

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 praeteritio: a Latin term that means ‘passing over’; as a rhetorical figure it refers to the practice of mentioning something by not meaning to mention it.

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 Example: ‘Soft you; a word or two before you go./ I have done the state some service, and they know’t –/ No more of that’ (Othello, Act 5, Scene 2).

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 tautology: the repetition of the same idea in different ways.

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 Etymology: from Greek tauto, ‘the same’, and logos, ‘word, idea’.

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 Example: ‘The … mouse … may now perchance both quake and tremble here.’

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 tmesis: the ‘cutting apart’ of a compound word by the interposition of others.

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 Etymology: from Greek temnein, ‘to cut’.

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 Example: ‘that man – how dearly ever parted’ (Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, Scene

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 3).

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 tricolon: the use of three parallel grammatical units (words, phrases, clauses).

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 Etymology: from Greek tri-, ‘three’, and kôlon, ‘limb, member, clause, unit’.

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 Example: ‘Tongue, not a word;/ Come, trusty sword;/ Come, blade, my breast imbue.’

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0  

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Source: https://deimperio.theclassicslibrary.com/further-resources/list-of-rhetorical-terms/