Anacoluthon – In rhetoric, a break or change in direction in a speech, often signaled by a dash.  Example:  “I was listening to the news – this man he’s a company director in London – the police arrested him.”

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Anadiplosis – A word repeated for effect.  Example: “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however hard and long the road may be.”

Anticlimax – A descent from the elevated and important to the low and trivial. Example: “Here thou, Great Anna! whom three realms obey,/Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes Tea.”

Antithesis – A construction in which words are opposed, but balanced. Example: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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Apostrophe – Rhetorically addressing someone or something that cannot respond, such as a dead person, a place, or an idea. Example: “O Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”

Bathos – A term for ludicrous anticlimax. Example: “For God, for country, and for Acme Gasworks.”

Chiasmus – An inversion of the word order that creates a counter balancing effect in the second or the two linked phrases. Example: “One must eat to live, not live to eat.”

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Figures of Speech: Examples & Terms

Dysphemism – The use of a negative or disparaging expression to describe something or someone, such as calling a Rolls Royce a jalopy.  A cruel or offensive version is called a Cacophemism, such as using it for a person.

Hendiadys – A term for two equal words joined by and, instead of one word with a modifier, or two words where one would have been enough. Example: (nice and warm for nicely warm, or gloom and doom).

Hyperbaton – The inversion of the usual or logical order of words, usually for emphasis, Example: This I really have to see.

Hyperbole – A term for exaggeration or overstatement, used for emphasis. Example: “I have a ton of books to read.”

Inversion – Used in speech where the normal word order of statements is turned around, for emphasis or to mark priority and eminence. Example: placing the adjective after its noun – (the body electric) or the placing of the grammatical subject after the verb (said she).

Litotes – A figure of speech by which an affirmation is made indirectly by denying its opposite, usually with the effect of understatement.  Example: no mean feat – and – not adverse to a drink.

Synecdoche – A figure of speech by which something is referred to indirectly, by naming some part or constituent of it. Example: hands for manual labourers or the law for police officers.

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