Syllabus Flashcards Preview

Rhetorical Terms > Syllabus Flashcards > Flashcards

Flashcards in Syllabus Flashcards Deck (29):


A set of similarly structured words, phrases, or clauses that appears in a sentence or paragraph.

Ex 1: The dog ran, stumbled, and fell.

Ex 2: "After two years I remember the rest of that day, and that night and the next day…" (Fitzgerald 17).



The repetition of the last word of one clause at the beginning of the following clause.

Ex: "Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business." (Francis Bacon)



The repetition of a group of words at the beginning of successive clauses.

Ex: "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence…" (Winston Churchill)



The substitution of one part of speech for another. It is the use of a word that is normally one part of speech in a situation that requires it to be understood as a different part of speech. In English, and this is one of its greatest virtues, almost any noun can be verbed.

Ex 1: "To scarf," for example, was the verb implied in Hamlet's speech, where he says, 'My sea-gown scarf'd about me.'

Ex 2: The thunder would not peace at my bidding.

Ex 3: You jesus'd that.



The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning or in the middle of two or more adjacent words.

Ex: "To make a man to meet the moral need/ A man to match the mountains and the sea" (Edwin Markham)



An entity referred to by one of its attributes or associations. The substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant.

Ex 1: "The press" for the news media.

Ex 2: Suit for business executive.

Ex 3: The track for horse racing.



Inverted relationship between two elements in two parallel phrases. A rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order, in the same or a modified form.

Ex 1: Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.

Ex 2: "To stop too fearful and too faint to go."



Parallel elements that are similar in structure and in length. Isocolon is a figure of speech in which a sentence is composed by two or more parts (cola) perfectly equivalent in structure, length and rhythm: it is called bicolon, tricolon, or tetracolon depending on whether they are two, three, or four. A figure of speech or sentence having a parallel structure formed by the use of two or more clauses, or cola, of similar length.

Ex 1: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

Ex 2: "… to impress the ignorant, to perplex the dubious, and to confound the scrupulous …"



Inversion or reversal of the usual order of words.

Ex: Echoed the hills.
Inversion from: The hills echoed



The juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas, often in parallel structure. Antithesis, literal meaning opposite, is a rhetorical device in which two opposite ideas are put together in a sentence to achieve a contrasting effect.

Ex 1: "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." (Barry Goldwater)

Ex 2: "…found her lying on her bed as lovely as the June night in her flowered dress--and as drunk as a monkey" (Fitzgerald 81).

Ex 3: “Setting foot on the moon may be a small step for a man but a giant step for mankind.”
The use of contrasting ideas, “a small step” and “a giant step”, in the sentence above emphasizes the significance of one of the biggest landmarks of human history.



A trope in which one word, usually a noun or the main verb, governs two other words not related in meaning. A figure of speech in which a word applies to two others in different senses (e.g., John and his license expired last week ) or to two others of which it semantically suits only one (e.g., with weeping eyes and hearts ).

Ex: He governs his will and his kingdom.



A part of something used to refer to the whole.

Ex 1: "The hired hands are not doing their jobs."
Workers are referred to by their hands only.

Ex 2: They were up against fifty sails.
Ships are referred to by their sails.



An implied comparison that does not use the word like or as.

Ex 1: "No man is an island" (Donne).

Ex 2: She was a cloud, floating above the rest of the insignificant beings without a second thought.



A type of comparison that uses the word like or as.

Ex: "There was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away" (Fitzgerald 2).



The repetition of a group of words at the end of successive clauses.

Ex 1: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us" (Emerson).

“Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended….”
(Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare)
Again Shakespeare is at his best in using this stylistic device. The repeated phrases at the end of sentences are: “for him have I offended.” It appears thrice in this excerpt. This shows the importance of the phrase.



Asking a question to assert or deny something obliquely not for an answer. A question that is asked without expecting an answer because the answer is strongly implied. It is a rhetorical question.

Ex: "How much longer must our people endure this injustice?"



Ironical understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary

Ex 1: You won't be sorry, meaning you'll be glad.

Ex 2: "This is no ordinary city" rather than "this is an impressive city".

Ex 3: "I lived at West Egg, the--well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag…" (Fitzgerald 9).
Ex: Not unattractive



A statement that seems untrue on the surface but is true nevertheless.

Ex: "Not having a fashion is a fashion."



The giving of human characteristics to inanimate objects.

Ex: The fall season has been personified as "sitting on a granary floor" (Keats).


Antonomasia (periphrasis)

The substitution of an attributive word or phrase for a proper name, or the use of a proper name to suggest a personality characteristic.

Ex 1: "He was no Romeo; but then again, she was no Juliet."

Ex 2: "…I stared at it, like Kant at his church steeple…" (Fitzgerald 93).

Ex 3: She wasn't a Gabby, unfortunately for her.



Writing or speaking that implies the contrary of what is actually written or spoken.

Ex 1: "Of course I believe you," Joe said sarcastically.

Ex 2: "I can't describe to you how surprised I was to find out I loved her…I even hoped for a while that she'd throw me over" (Fitzgerald 157).



An insertion of material that interrupts the typical flow of a sentence.

Ex: The dog (which was black) ran, stumbled, and fell.



The omission of conjunctions between related clauses.

Ex: "This is the villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, who meant to betray you completely." (Aristotle)
Non-Asyndeton Ex: "This is the villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, and who meant to betray you completely." (Aristotle)
The use of a conjunction disqualifies it as an asyndeton.



The repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order.

Ex: One should eat to live, not live to eat.



Repetition of conjunctions in close succession.

Ex: "We have ships and men and money and stores."
And is the conjunction being repeatedly said.



The omission of words, the meaning of which is provided by the overall context of a passage.

Ex: "Medical thinking . . . stressed air as the communicator of disease, ignoring sanitation or visible carriers" (Tuchman).



Juxtaposed words with seemingly contradictory meanings.

Ex 1: "O miserable abundance! O beggarly riches!" (Donne).

Ex 2: Deafening silence



The author / speaker raises a rhetorical question and also gives an answer to the question. Hypophora is used to get the audience's attention and make them curious. Often the question is raised at the beginning of a paragraph and answered in the course of that paragraph. Hypophora can also be used, however, to introduce a new area of discussion.


Why is it better to love than be loved? It is surer. (Sarah Guitry)

How many countries have actually hit […] the targets set at Rio, or in Kyoto in 1998, for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions? Precious few. (6)

"What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured."
(Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage. Random House, 1981)

Are you blind? No, you're not. So stop asking stupid questions.



Asking questions in order to chide, to express grief, or to inveigh. A kind of rhetorical question. A term for asking questions to rebuke or reproach rather than to elicit answers. More broadly, a form of argument in which a speaker attempts to shame an opponent into adopting a particular point of view.

"You think what I do is playing God, but you presume you know what God wants. Do you think that's not playing God?"
(John Irving, The Cider House Rules, 1985)

Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? —Job 3:11

"Are we children of a lesser God? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?”
(Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, July 2006)

Are you blind?