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(n.) a representation (especially in drawing) in which the subject's characteristic features are deliberately exaggerated; (v.) to present someone or something in a deliberately distorted way; eg: emphasizing Obama's ears in political cartoons


a statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed ("Susan walked in, and out rushed Mary.")


a fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects; eg: relating fishing and sexual orientation


figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it; eg: "Hollywood produces many blockbusters"


A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general (as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), or the material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).

predicate adjective

an adjective that follows a linking verb and describes the subject; eg: ill in "He is ill"

predicate nominative

a noun or pronoun that follows a linking verb and renames or identifies the subject; eg: doctor in "Chillingworth is the doctor"


a three-part deductive argument in which a conclusion is based on a major premise and a minor premise ("All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal.")


purely scientific; dispassionately curious; objective, detached; eg: "The researched displayed a cool clinical attitude toward the suffering patients"


indulging in imagination or delusion; imaginative, whimsical; "The fanciful doctor explored the least logical of associations"


tting into; sharp; keen; piercing; acute; trenchant, poignant; "The critic's incisive commentary seared the author"


rousing or likely to rouse excitement or violence; vehement, fiery; "The inflammatory letter in the newspaper incited much ado"


broadly comic or satirical imitation as of writing, play, etc.; derisive caricature; low comedy; "The burlesque nature of the play proved inappropriate to the family with three very young children"


frivolous and disrespectful; impertinent; "The flippant remarks led to their disqualification"


boldly rude or disrespectful; impertinent; "The insolent behavior of the architect led to his dismissal"

appeal to ignorance

A fallacy that uses an opponent's inability to disprove a conclusion as proof of the conclusion's correctness; eg: one cannot prove God exists, therefore he does

straw man

When a writer argues against a claim that nobody actually holds or is universally considered weak. Setting up a straw man diverts attention from the real issues; eg: feminists are wrong because they want men to serve them as slaves

ad hominem

appealing to personal considerations (rather than to fact or reason); eg: Mitt Romney is a [insert inappropriate word for school]

post hoc, ergo propter hoc

the logical fallacy of believing that temporal succession implies a causal relation; eg: the economy tanked during this dude's presidency, so he's a sucky president

appeal to tradition

Appeals to antiquity assume that older ideas are better, that the fact that an idea has been around for a while implies that it is true; eg: Zoroastrianism is among the oldest religions, so go Zoroaster! Jesus can't top you!

non sequitor

a statement that does not follow logically from evidence; eg: "US education sucks because building three is always freezing"

begging the question

the situation that results when a writer or speaker constructs an argument on an assumption that the audience does not accept; eg: "White mochas are gay because they're homosexual"

slippery slope

predicting without justification that one step in a process will lead unavoidably to a second, generally undesirable step; eg: "if we allow students to chew gum in school, they'll inevitably start smoking PCP in school. god, those silly liberals."

false authority

fallacy in which a claim is based on the expertise of someone who lacks appropriate credentials; eg: "If President Obama digs our shampoo, you should too!"


Judging someone on the basis of one's perception of the group to which that person belongs; eg: "That Pakistani is gonna blow us up."

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