Glossary of Rhetorical Terms
|Ad hominem argument||from the Latin meaning "to or against the man," this is an argument that appeals to emotion rather than reason; mud-slinging; attacking the man rather than the issue|
|Allegory||the device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. The allegorical meaning usually deals with moral truth or a generalization about human existence. Animal Farm is an example.|
|Ambiguity||multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.|
|Anaphora||repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines of poetry.|
|Antimetabole||the repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order. The |
difference between antimetabole and chiasmus is that the chiasmus reverses grammatical
order but not the same words.
Example from JFK's Inauguration Speech, "As not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."
|Antithesis|| Juxtaposition of contrasting ides in balanced phrases. Example from JKF's Inauguration Speech, "[W]e shall support any friend, oppose any foe."|
From 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 . . ."
|Aphorism|| a terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral|
|Apostrophe||breaking off discourse to address some absent, person, or thing, some abstract quality, or a nonexistent character.Example: in Julius Caesar, Cassius is talking to Brutus and exclaims, "Age (abstract quality), thou art sham'd!/Rome (the old Democratic Rome is nonexistent), thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!"|
|Asyndeton||Omission of conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. It tends to speed up the flow of the sentence.Example: from Lincoln, ". . . government of the people, by the people, for the people. . ."|
|Chiasmus||A verbal pattern in which the second part is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed.|
Example from Frederick Douglass, "An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage""If black men have no rights in the eyes of the white men, of course the whites
can have none in the eyes of the blacks."
|Clause||a grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb. There are independent, or|
main, clauses which can stand alone as a sentence, and there are subordinate (dependent)
clauses which must be accompanied by an independent clause.
Example with independent clause in parenthesis and the subordinate clause in italics:
Because I worked hard every day in class, (my AP score was high.)
|Colloquial/colloquialism|| an expression used in informal conversation but not accepted |
universally in formal speech or writing. These expressions include local or regional dialects.
|Conceit|| a fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects. For example, in love poems, poets may |
compare their love to some object, such as a rose, a ship, a garden.
|Concession||where a speaker/writer agrees that a point given by the opposition may, in fact, be true.|
|Connotation||the non-literal meaning of a word. Connotations may involve ideas, emotion, or attitudes.|
|Counterargument||an anticipation of the opposing sides views and an argument where the validity of all or part of the argument is accurate or true.|
|Dehortatio|| dissuasive advice given with authority. Language that urges or calls to action.|
Example from JFK, "Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science . . ."
|Diction||refers to the speaker/writer's word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.|
|Didactic||this type of work has the primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.|
|Ellipsis||omission of one or more words, which must be supplied by the listener or reader.Example: Sharon was the first-born; Phil the second.|
|Enthymeme|| an informally stated syllogism with an implied premise.|
Example: Children should be seen and not heard. Be quiet, John.
The minor premise - that John is a child - is left to the reader to add.
|Epigram|| any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed. |
Example from Oscar Wilde, "I can resist everything except temptation."
|Extended metaphor||a metaphor developed at great length over several lines.|
|Epithet|| an adjective used to point out a characteristic of a person or thing, and may be complimentary or not.|
Examples: heartfelt thanks, blood-red sky, stone-cold heart
|Ethos|| persuasive appeal to character used by speakers and writers to demonstrate that they are|
credible and trustworthy.
|Euphemism||substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit.Example: calling one a senior citizen rather than an old person|
|Figure of speech|| a device used to produce figurative language; they include apostrophe, |
hyperbole, irony, metaphor, oxymoron, paradox, simile among others.
|Genre|| the major category in which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are|
prose, poetry, and drama. Other divisions within prose are autobiography, biography,
diary, criticism, essay, and journalistic, political, scientific, and nature writing.
|Homily||any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice; a sermon|
|Hyperbole|| a figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement.|
Example: There were a million people in the cafeteria!!
|Hypophora||raising questions and answering them. Example from The Wizard of Oz,"What makes a King out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage!"|
|Imagery||the sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions, usually using terms related to the five senses.|
|Inference/Infer||to draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented.|
|Invective||an emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.|
|Irony||the contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant. There are three|
major types of irony: (1)verbal irony in which the words literally state the opposite of the
writer's/speaker's true meaning; (2)situational irony in which the events turn out the
opposite of what was expected; (3)dramatic irony in which the facts or events are
unknown to a character in a play or piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or
other characters in the work.
|Jargon||the special language of a profession or group, like lawyers or computer technicians.|
|Logos||an appeal to reason using clear, rational ideas, usually with specific details, examples, facts, statistical data, or expert testimony as support.|
|Loose sentence||a sentence where the main idea comes in the beginning of the sentence. Example: The weather was hot even though we had a little rain.|
|Metaphor||a figure of speech using implied comparison of seemingly unlike things.|
|Metonymy|| substitution of some attributive or suggestive word for what is meant.|
Example: The White House helped free the reporters held captive in North Korea. The suits make all the money these days!
|Mood||the prevailing atmosphere of a work. Setting, tone, and events can affect the mood.|
|Onomatopoeia||a figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words, such as buzz, hiss, hum.|
|Omniscient point of view||the narrator of the story knows what is in the minds of all the characters.|
|Oxymoron|| a self-contradictory combination of words or smaller verbal units.|
Example: bittersweet, jumbo shrimp, guest host, pianoforte.
|Paradox|| a statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense, but|
upon closer inspection or thought contains some degree of truth or validity. Example: 2 Corinthians "For when I am weak, then I am strong" "War ispeace.", "Freedom is slavery.", "Ignorance is strength."
(George Orwell, 1984)
|Parody||a work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule. Example: Saturday Night Live|
|Pathos||a persuasive appeal to emotions. example: a photo of a lonely and homeless puppy|
|Pedantic||an adjective that describes words, phrases or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic or bookish.|
|Periodic sentence||a sentence which builds up, often through two or more parallel constructions,to a climactic statement in the main clause.|
Example: From breakfast to lunch, from lunch to dinner, from dinner to midnight snack,he is thinking of only one thing - the next meal. The winner of this year's Academy Award for best actor is one of the best known, most respected actors of this century; his portrayal of Hamlet will be remembered as a classic for years to come - ladies and gentlemen, the winner is that great dramatic artist - Daffy Duck!
|Persona||the character the speaker creates when he or she writes or speaks, depending on the context, purpose, subject, and audience.|
|Personification||a figure of speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects by endowing them with human attributes or emotions.|
|Point of view||the perspective from which the story is told. The two general divisions are first person narrator or third person narrator.|
|Polysyndeton|| a style that employs a great many conjunctions. This usually slows down the flow of the sentence and creates a piling on effect.|
Example: I love the trees and the birds, and the flowers, and the many, many aspects of nature.
|Refutation||the part of a discourse wherein a speaker/writer anticipates opposing arguments and answers them.|
|Repetition||the duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.Example from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" speech"I have a dream."|
|Rhetoric||the principle governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently and persuasively; the skillful use of language to secure the acceptance or agreement of the reader.|
|Rhetorical modes -||describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of writing: (1) exposition is to explain and analyze information (2) argumentation is to prove the validity of an idea (3) description is to re-create, invent, or visually present a person, place, event, or action (4) narration is to tell a story or narrate an event.|
|Rhetorical patterns of development||(1) narration refers to telling a story (2) description |
emphasizes the senses (3) process analysis which explains how something works, how to do something, or how something was done (4) exemplification in which you provide a series of examples - facts, specific cases, or instances - to turn a general idea into a concrete one (5) comparison and contrast in which you juxtapose two things to highlight their similarities and differences (6) classification and division in which material or ideas are sorted into major categories (7) definition in which a speaker/writer provides a
paragraph or two to clarify terms (8) cause and effect in which the causes that lead to a certain effect or the effects that result from a cause are explained as a powerful foundation for argument.
|Rhetorical strategy||the choices a speaker/writer makes in order to achieve their purpose.|
|Rhetorical question||a question asked for effect, not in expectation of a reply.|
|Sarcasm||involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something|
|Satire||a work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform or ridicule.|
|Schemes|| artful syntax where only the shape of a phrase is changed.|
Examples: anaphora, chiasmus, ellipses, parallelism, polysyndeton, antithesis
|Simile||a comparison of two things using like, as, or if.|
|Style||he way an author uses language to convey his/her ideas; includes diction, syntax, imagery, figurative language, selection of detail, and tone.|
|Subordinate clause||a group of words containing a subject and verb, but is unable to stand alone as a sentence.|
|Synecdoche||a trope in which a part signifies the whole or the whole signifies the part. Example: "wheels" when referring to a car|
|Syntax||the arrangement of words by a speaker/writer.|
|Transition||a word or phrase that links different ideas.|
|Tricolon|| a sentence with three clearly defined parts of equal length, usually independent clauses and of increasing power.|
Example: "A happy life is one spent in learning, earning, and yearning." Lillian Gish
|Trope|| a rhetorical device that produces a shift in the meaning of words..|
Examples: metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole
|Understatement|| figure of speech in which a speaker/writer deliberately makes a situation seems less important or serious than it is.|
Example: When someone says "pretty fair" but means "splendid." When someone says that war is "a little messy."