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Examples of Figures of Speech

Figures of speech provoke a thought process and bring depth to the language. To
be able to use them well is an art, which can be mastered over time. The more yo
u read, the more you will be able to understand. With the help of the following
figures of speech examples, you too can master the art of using them appropriate
Alliteration: Alliteration refers to the repetition of any particular sound amon
g words placed close together, in a sentence. These are mainly consonant sounds,
but can be vowel sounds too. It is often used as a figure of speech in poetry.
Some examples of alliteration are:
* Don't delay dawns disarming display. Dusk demands daylight. - Paul Mccan
* Sara s seven sisters slept soundly in sand.
Anastrophe: This refers to the inversion of the normal order of speech in a part
icular sentence. It can also be said, that the language is interrupted, and spee
ch takes a sudden turn. This is used for the purpose of emphasis. Examples of an
astrophe are:
* Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. - Edga
r Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart
(Original Sentence: There was no object. There was no passion. I loved the
old man.)
* Why should their liberty than ours be more? - Adriana, Comedy of Errors, W
illiam Shakespeare
(Original Sentence: Why should their liberty be more than ours?)
Anaphora: Anaphora refers to a repetition of one particular word purposely, at t
he start of consecutive sentences or paragraphs. This is again in order to empha
size a point. Examples of anaphora are:
* I'm not afraid to die. I'm not afraid to live. I'm not afraid to fail. I'm
not afraid to succeed. I'm not afraid to fall in love. I'm not afraid to be alo
ne. I'm just afraid I might have to stop talking about myself for five minutes.
- Kinky Friedman, When the Cat's Away
* Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink. - Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rime of the Ancient Mari
Antonomasia: Antonomasia refers to the substitution of a proper name, with a phr
ase, which then becomes a way of recognition for the person in question. This ca
n be explained with the help of the following examples:
* The King of Pop - Micheal Jackson
* The Bard - William Shakespeare
* The Dark Knight - Batman
Euphemism: A euphemism is the use of neutral language to remark something that m
ay be offensive to the receiver. Euphemism is often used by people who are diplo
matic, and who wish to be politically correct. Some examples of this figure of s
peech are:
* We have to let you go. Read: You're fired.
* You're well fed. Read: You're fat.
Hyperbole: A hyperbole is a figure of speech used for the purpose of exaggeratio
n. It mainly forms the basis of several jokes, is used as a way of insults, or c
ould simply be used to dramatize a situation, where in reality, the situation ma
y not be that bad. This can be understood with the help of these hyperbole examp
* I'm so busy trying to accomplish ten million things at once. - I'm trying
to accomplish several things at one time.
* Your dog is so ugly, we had to pay the fleas to live on him. - Here the hy
perbole has been used as an insult.
Irony: Irony refers to the use of certain words that actually intend to convey t
he opposite. Irony forms the basis of sarcasm, and of humor. It is also a way of
expressing the ugly truth in a slightly gentle manner. Some irony examples are:
* Bill Gates winning a computer. - Situational Irony (He is the owner of the
world's largest software company.)
* Having a fight with your best friend just before your birthday, and commen
ting -"Great, this is just what I needed". - Verbal Irony (It is probably the wo
rst thing that could happen before your birthday.)
* In Romeo and Juliet, when Juliet is drugged, Romeo assumes her to be dead,
and kills himself. Upon waking up Juliet finds him dead, and kills herself. - D
ramatic Irony (mainly based on miscommunication and misunderstanding)
Litotes: This figure of speech refers to the use of understatement, to affirm a
particular situation or event with the use of a negative opposite. Examples of m
etaphors include:
* He was not unfamiliar with the work of Shakespeare. - He was familiar with
the work of Shakespeare.
* Einstein is not a bad mathematician. - Einstein is a great mathematician.
Metaphor: Used for the purpose of comparison, a metaphor is a figure of speech t
hat implies the meaning of an object with its reference to another completely un
related object. For instance:
* The sofa is fertile soil for a couch potato.
* But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill. - William Sha
rp, The Lonely Hunter
Metonymy: Metonymy refers to the use of a phrase regarding associated concept, i
n order to describe the actual concept. Some metonymy examples are:
* The 'editorial page' has always believed... - This refers to the belief of
the editors who write the editorial page.
* He writes a fine hand - It means he has good handwriting.
Oxymoron: An oxymoron uses a contradictory adjective to define an object, situat
ion or event. Oxymoron examples are:
* Loners club
* A stripper's dressing room
* I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous!
Onomatopoeia: Such words imitate the sounds made by certain objects or actions.
Some examples of onomatopoeia are:
* The clatter of utensils.
* The flutter of birds.
Paralipsis: This figure of speech is used by people who do not wish to speak on
a subject, but still manage to disclose it. Some examples are:
* It would be unseemly for me to dwell on Senator Kennedy s drinking problem,
and too many have already sensationalized his womanizing
* I will not dwell on the senator's shady history with the criminal underwor
ld, or on her alcoholic son... such issues should not be brought up in a reasone
d debate.
Personification: This refers to the art of bringing to life an inanimate object,
trait, or action, by associating it with a human quality. Examples of personifi
cation are:
* The picture in that magazine screamed for attention.
* The carved pumpkin smiled at me.
Pun: Puns refer to the deliberate substitution of similar sounding words, to cre
ate a humorous effect. For example:
* I bet the butcher the other day that he couldn t reach the meat that was on
the top shelf. He refused to take the bet, saying that the steaks were too high.
* Santa s helpers are subordinate Clauses.
Rhetoric: Rhetoric refers to the art of persuasion through effective speech. Que
stions that have an obvious answer are known as rhetorical questions. Such quest
ions are not expected to be answered, as the answer is already known. These are
included in persuasive speech. Some examples include:
* If practice makes perfect, and no one's perfect, then why practice? - Bill
y Corgan
* Why do you need a drivers license to buy liquor when you cannot drink and
Simile: A simile is similar to a metaphor. However, here, a reference between tw
o concepts is made by using the terms 'like' or 'as'. Some simile examples are:
* Cause she looks like a flower but she stings like a bee/Like every girl in
history. - Ricky Martin
* George felt as worn out as an old joke that was never very funny in the fi
rst place.
Zeugma: This figure of speech refers to the use of only one word to describe two
actions or events. The word however, logically applies only to one of the actio
ns. For instance:
* She opened the door and her heart to the orphan.
* She lowered her standards by raising her glass, her courage, her eyes and
his hopes.