Rhetorical Devices (English)
Terms in this set (37)
a figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, make a point, or evoke humor
"My neighborhood is so quiet that when a cat walks across the street, it draws a crowd."
When the force of a descriptive statement is less than what one would normally expect
"It rained a bit more than usual." - Describing an area being flooded by heavy rainfall.
a type of understatement in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite
"A cup of coffee would not be unwelcome."
a statement in which two opposing ideas are balanced
"War is not fought to achieve joy, but rather to avoid pain."
Raising a question then proceeding to answer it.
"What then of the future? Let come what may, and we shall meet it without fear."
a statement that is formulated as a question but that is not supposed to be answered
"How can we expect a man to give more than we ourselves are willing to give?"
by anticipating an objection and answering it, permits an argument to continue moving forward while taking into account points or reasons opposing either the train of thought or its final conclusions
"Some people, even in this era of modern thought, believe that UFOs are visiting our planet everyday, but without tangible evidence, mere belief is not proof."
an explicit reference to a particular meaning or to the various meanings of a word, in order to remove or prevent ambiguity
"At this point, we have a short time left - a short time being less than fifty years."
a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with 'like' or 'as')
"As brave as a lion."
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
"Dr. King was truly a king among men."
Comparison of two things; makes use of something already well known to explain something that is less well known.
"Life is like a race. The one who keeps running wins the race, and the one who stops to catch a breath loses."
A reference to some fair well-known event, place, or person.
"He held the trophy aloft like Perseus holding the Gorgon's head."
a reference to specific famous person to link his or her attributes with someone else.
"A modern day Moses, he led his nation to a new beginning"
quoting a maxim or wise saying to apply a general truth to the situation; concluding or summing foregoing material by offering a single, pithy statement of general wisdom
"We would do well to remember, however, that all is fair in love and war."
Providing the reader with an example to illustrate the point
"The US government gives its citizens freedom; one illustration of this is that we have the right to criticize our leaders."
Slowly building the reader up to a state of excitement, then deliver the crowning statements.
Is often made up of parallelism to show progression
"Curiosity leads to discovery, leads to knowledge, leads to wisdom."
Usage of the same general structure for multiple parts of a sentence in order to link them all
"My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors." - Barack Obama
a statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed
"Susan walked in, and out rushed Mary."
Repetition of the last word of one clause at the beginning of the following clause
"In education we find the measure of our own ignorance; in ignorance we find the beginning of wisdom."
resembles anadiplosis in the repetition of a preceding word, but it repeats a keyword (not just the last word) from a preceding phrase, clause, or sentence, at the beginning of the next.
"Did you not weep when the bombs rained down? Did you not weep?"
"So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King ... but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love - a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke." - Robert F. Kennedy
a device used to sum up a body of work that has come before, so that readers can move on to a new point
Purpose: to remind readers of the most crucial areas already covered before moving on to new but related ideas
"I have discussed cars and factories, and how these relate to global warming, but we have still to look at long-term atmospheric trends."
a device that is used to insert an aside or additional information into the main flow of your writing
"This continued for many years - some would say far longer than it should have - before a new brand of politician put an end to it."
A rhetorical device in which the writer breaks out of the flow of the writing to directly address a person or personified object.
So the sun set over Paris - Paris, my first love, sultry and secretive, how I wanted to hold you forever as the sun went down that summer day.
refers to the act of supplying a list of details about something
Purpose: used structurally to expand on a central idea, lending force to that idea by enumerating its many facets
"This is actually a multi-step process: Thank of an example, write in down, turn it in, and get a good grade."
"The renovation included a new spa, tennis court, pool, and lounge."
a way of ordering points to downplay the negatives so that readers feels less strongly about them
Purpose: to suggest the benefits more than outweigh the costs of the subject
"She can be quick to anger, but when you're in need, she'll always be there."
"The car is not pretty, but it runs great."
word or phrase characteristically used to describe a person or thing; descriptive phrase to characterize a person
" A healing wind blew through the diseased hospital."
"Richard the Lionheart."
A device in which unexpected items in a sentence are linked together by a shared word
"John lost his coat and his temper."
"He firmly held his tongue and her hand."
using a part of something to represent the whole
"The captain shouted, 'All hands on deck.'"
refer to something closely related to the actual object
"I had to read Hemingway for a class"
purposefully arranging words in a sentence in an unexpected order
Purpose: to tweak the normal order of a sentence, making certain parts stand out or making the entire sentence jump off the page
"She wouldn't, for any reason whatsoever, to that smelly, foul, unlikable man, be married."
repetition of a word or phrase as the beginning of successive clauses
I need water, I need food, I need love, I need you.
The repetition of a group of words at the end of successive clauses
"...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
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
"Against yourself you are calling him,
against the law you are calling him,
against the democratic situation you are calling him."
involves repeating a word or expression while adding more details to it, in order to emphasize what might otherwise be passed over
"This is a crisis. A large crisis. In fact, if you've got a moment, it's a twelve-story crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying 'This Is a Large Crisis.'"
involves listing a series of clauses with no conjunctions
Purpose: to imply a sense of immediacy, or to indicate multiple things happening at once, even though that may not be the case
"There were no rooms at the inn. We drove farther until we found a hotel. It was raining heavily and we got soaked on the way to the door. Our socks stank of mildew. We ate dinner there and talked little."
A figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes
"The flower danced under the sunlight."
Repetition of sounds at the beginning of words
"Why not waste a wild weekend at Westmore Water Park?"