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A Panorama of Figure Of Speech

What is a rhetorical device or figure of speech?

Answer⇒ The term “rhetoric” refers to language that is used to inform, persuade, or motivate the readers or audience. It is the art of using a language where at least one person tries to change the thinking of at least one other person by presenting and making convincing and attractive views.

Aristotle, one of the famous Greek philosophers, defines rhetoric as “the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion.”

With the help of a rhetorical device or a figure of speech, a word or phrase is used in a non-literal sense to enhance the beauty of the speech or writing. It provides emphasis, freshness, and clarity to expression by making a persuasive, vivid, and relatable speech that awakens our fantasy and enriches us with curiosity and excitement. So a figure of speech or a rhetorical device adds color and interest, awakens our imagination, and causes excitement.



A simile is a figure of speech that describes something by comparing it to something else by using the words “like” or “as”.

A simile is not so similar as a comparison as a simile compares two unrelated things with the help of “like” or “as”. For example, “She smiles like the flower” is a simile, but “he plays like you” is a comparison but not a simile. 

♦Examples :

  • “My little boat mov’d on Even like a Man who walks with a stately step.”

  • “He smiles like a flower.”



A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares one thing to another unrelated thing directly. It is a direct statement, in which you say that one thing is another. 



  • “The camel is the ship of the desert.”

  • “All the world is a stage.”

  • “Time is a thief.”

  • “Life is a tale told by an idiot.”



Personification is a figure of speech in which human traits and qualities, such as emotions, desires, sensations, gestures, and speech are given to objects or animals which are incapable of thought. For example, “The hills rejoice and clap their hands”, the hills are personified here as the hills both can rejoice and clap like human beings.


♦Examples :


  • Death lays his icy hand on kings.”

  • The moon veiled her face.”

  • O Solitude! Where are the charms, That sages have seen in the face?”

  • O sweet content! Where is thy mild abode?”

  • Opportunity knocks at the door but once.”

  • This City now doth, like a garment, wear the beauty of the morning.”

  • My computer betrays me.”

  • If the car cooperates, we will reach the destination within one hour.”



An Apostrophe is a figure of speech in which an inanimate object, concept, or idea is addressed directly as if they were alive and able to give a response, but in reality, the addressed entities cannot reply as they are dead or absent or abstract ideas.


  • “Then come, sweet death, and rid me of this grief.”

  • “O Solitude! Where are the charms, That sages have seen in the face?”

  • “O sweet content! Where is thy mild abode?”

  • “Fair daffodils, we weep to see you haste away so soon”.

  • “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.”

  • “Break, break, break On thy cold grey stone O Sea!”

  • “O wind, where have you been?”



Interrogation or Rhetorical Question

Interrogation or Rhetorical Question is a figure of speech in which a question is asked without expecting any answer creating a rhetorical effect.

In this figure of speech, a statement is written in the form of a question to confirm or deny a statement.


  • “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

  • “Who does not love his country?”

  • “Can you define friendship?”

  • “Can you measure love?”



An exclamation is a figure of speech in which statements are written in the exclamatory form to grab more attention of the reader to a particular thing than a general statement could do.

It is used to express feelings of joy, sorrow, grief, and despair.


  • “What a beautiful day!”


Ellipsis is a figure of speech in which some words are omitted from a sentence implying its proper meaning.

The omission of the words is made intentionally, the sentence remains clear to understand.


  • “I eat two cakes, but Jenny four.”(ellipsis is used in the second clause as the context of the sentence permits us to omit the word ‘cake’.)

  • “I went to the exhibition on Monday, and she the next day.”




Euphemism is a figure of speech in which something is said or written vaguely and indirectly to replace a harsh term. With the help of euphemism, some unpleasant event is described favorably.

  • “Sristy has passed away.”(Instead of saying -Sristy has died.)

  • “Mr. A. K. Bose is letting her go.”(Instead of saying- Mr. A. K. Bose is firing her.)

  • “His uncle is in a correctional facility.”




Dysphemism is a figure of speech in which harsh words are used for something which is not so harsh.


  • “I have sent a letter through snail mail.”(Instead of saying- I have sent a letter through postal mail.

  • “She was going to buy a cancer stick.”(Instead of saying she was going to buy a cigarette)




An understatement is a figure of speech in which a statement is written or said in such a way that the statement seems to be less important than what it is. It is the opposite of hyperbole.

  • “An atomic blast is somewhat noisy.” 




Zeugma is a figure of speech in which one word is used to narrate two actions by joining each part of a sentence with a verb that generally applies to one of the actions.


  • “Rita wore a beautiful dress and confidence.”

  • “She broke his car and his heart.”

  • “He lost his job and his mind.”



An allusion is a figure of speech in which an indirect reference or association is used to stimulate different ideas. It may be an indirect reference to a person or some historical place or something from politics.


  • Mani is known as  Newton in our class.



Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something represents the whole, or the whole of something represents a part of something.


  • “But O for the touch of a vanished hand, And for the sound of a voice that is still!”


Metonymy :

Metonymy is a figure of speech that replaces the name of a thing with the name of another thing with which it is closely associated.


  •  “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.”

  • “The pen is mightier than the sword”.

 Here “Pen” stands for “the written word” and “Sword” stands for “military aggression.”



Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which an exaggeration is made to a great extent intentionally by the writer or speaker.
It is used to make an emphatic statement, humorously emphasizing a description or statement.

  • “Rita has seen this movie a hundred times.”

  • “Why, man, if the river were dry I can fill it with tears.”

  • “I’ve told you to go to school a million times.”

  • “When you gaze into her eyes you will enter Paradise.”



Tautology is a figure of speech in which the same concept or thought is repeated unnecessarily in different words.


  • “Every astrologer can predict his future.”

  • “Raj wrote an autobiography about his life.”

  • “It has finished and over.”

  • “I and my mother were alone together at home.”

  • “They united together.”



Innuendo is a figure of speech in which something is said politely to criticize someone or something indirectly. It is a concealed remark suggesting a rude comment or insulation criticize a particular situation of society, politics, and someone’s life, etc. With the help of this figure of speech, criticism is made indirectly without saying what is meant in reality.


♦“After making friends with her, Rita would get rebuked by her teachers daily.”




Irony is the use of words to convey an opposite meaning of what is said verbally.

 It may also convey a situation that ends up in a different way than what is expected. It depicts a difference between appearance and reality and sometimes creates laughter.  

For example, there is a robbery in the police station.

There are three types of irony. They are
(i )Verbal irony:
Sometimes we say something to mean something different than what we say. This way a contrast is made between what is said and what is conveyed.
For example, When Ravi got poor marks in his class, his father patted him on his back and told him, “Carry on. You will be the first in the class”.

 (ii)Dramatic irony:
It occurs when the audience or the reader knows more than the character about events. In other words, what the character thinks is true is incongruous with what the audience knows.
For example, The wife believed that her husband died in an airplane crash and but the audience was aware that the husband had survived.
(iii)Situational irony:
Sometimes there is a contrast between the real consequence of a situation and what was expected to take place.


  • Ritika watches a movie and thinks, “The hero of the movie will defeat all the villains.” But at the end of the movie, the hero gets attacked by the villains and dies.


Onomatopoeia :

Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech in which some words are used to suggest the sound of someone or something.


  • “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day.”

Here ‘curfew’ means ‘evening bell’, ‘tolls’ means ‘rings slowly’, and ‘knell’ means ‘sound of bell’. So, the entire sentence means, the evening bells ring and declare to the people that the day is going to be over.



Litotes is a figure of speech in which a negative statement is used to express a strong affirmative statement which means the opposite of what is said.


♦“These chocolates are not bitter.”

♦“He was not a little worried about his result.”

♦“She does not look nice.”

♦“Srijita did not secure very poor marks in science.”

♦“I can not disagree with your point of view.”

♦“English isn’t difficult.”

♦“I don’t hate Indians.”



Climax is a figure of speech in which words are arranged in an order of increasing value. In this figure of speech, words are written so that it seems to be moving from simple ideas to important ideas.


  • “He came, he saw, he conquered.”

  • “He ran fast; He came first in the race; He was awarded a prize.”



Anti-climax is contrary to climax. It is a figure of speech in which words are arranged in an order of decreasing value. In this figure of speech, words are written so that it seems to be moving from important ideas to simple ideas.

Generally. it is used to make at someone or something.


♦“The soldier fights for glory, and a shilling a day.”
♦“She lost her husband, her child, and her wallet.”



A pun is a figure of speech in which a word gives more than one meaning for its sound which is similar to another word and makes humor in the mind of the readers. It seems to be a joke which creates laughter.



  • “A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is two-tired.”

  •  “An ambassador is an honest man who lies abroad for the good of his country.”



Repetition is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is repeated more than once to emphasize an idea. It is used to make a strong and memorable statement to convince the readers or audience.


  • “Mangoes ripe and mangoes rare, /Mangoes, mangoes everywhere.”



Alliteration is a figure of speech in which a series of words begin with the same consonant sound and the beginning sound of words creates a rhythm in the speech by repeating in close succession. 
♦Examples :


  • “She sells seashells by the seashore.”

  • “Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said, this butter’s bitter; if I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter, but a bit of better butter will make my bitter batter better.”

  • “Dan declares that he deserves to debate.

  • “The snake slept under a spray.”

  • “Nigerian narrator narrates nation’s nepotism.”

Epanaphora or Anaphora:

Epanaphora or Anaphora is a figure of speech that consists of the repetition of a word or a group of words at the beginning of more than one successive clause.


  • “Great world! Great man! Great composition!”

  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”.

  • “This is the first time I went to Africa, this is the first time I ate African food, this is the first time I gave a public speech in Africa.”



The word ‘Epistrophe’ comes from a Greek word meaning  “turning upon”.It is a figure of speech in which the same word repeats at the end of each sentence, clause, or phrase.


  • “Rita looks good, her job is good, and her” communication skill is also good.”



Consonance is a figure of speech in which a consonant is repeated across words, usually at the end of words.

  • “And then hopped sidewise to the wall.”



Assonance is a figure of speech in which vowel sounds are repeated closely. The sounds do not need to be at the start of the word.


  • “They looked like frightened beads, I thought.”



Chiasmus is a figure of speech in which ideas or clauses are repeated in reverse order creating a rhetorical effect.



  • “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty.”

  • “Foul is fair and fair is foul.”

  • “Many who are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

  • “You can take the tiger out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the tiger.”



The word ‘Epigram’ comes from the Greek word ‘epigramma’,  meaning “inscription”.

Epigram is a figure of speech that depicts a memorable, brief, interesting, clever, and surprising satirical statement. 

Generally, it has satirical purposes or a serious hidden meaning, and it is a very brief statement.


  • “Failures are pillars of success.”

  • “It is a witty statement, conveying the truth that we have to face the bitter taste of failure to enjoy success.”

  • “No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend.”




Hyperbaton is a figure of speech in which the general order of words is changed by moving some words out of order. In Hyperbaton, words are not placed according to the normal order to emphasize meaning, rhythm, and melody.


  • “Some rise by sin, some by virtue fall”.

Here the word ‘fall’ is shifted to a place other than its proper syntactical position.

Transferred epithet

An epithet is an adjective that describes somebody or something.

A transferred epithet is a figure of speech in which an epithet is transferred from a suitable noun to another noun to which it does not belong.
♦Examples :

  • “She would with a greedy ear devour Othello’s discourse.”

  • “To their untraveled thought, their village was their world.”

  • “We had a pleasant time there.”

  • “I had a sleepless night.”




It is a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are placed together in a sentence to convey a contrasting effect. The word ‘antithesis’ means “opposite. In this figure of speech, a pair of statements or images are given in such a way that one statement reverses the other statement.

  •  “Unity makes us stand, division makes us fall.”

  • “A jack of all trades but master of none.”

  • “To err is human; to forgive divine.”

  • “Many are called, but few are chosen.”




An oxymoron: A figure of speech in which two contradictory words are placed side by side is called an oxymoron. For example, the word oxymoron is itself a contradictory phrase.  It derives from the Ancient Greek word ‘oxumoron’.It is a compound of the words oxus, which means  ‘sharp’, and moros, which means ‘dull’. So it means ‘wise foolishness’.
♦Examples :
♦ “Rita is idly busy.”
♦ “Sahil is an honorable villain.”
♦“Being  a cheerful pessimist, an unwilling volunteer, he became successful.”
♦“There was a wild civility in our classroom.”
♦“Rajam and Mani were involved in friendly strife.”

♦“He was the wisest fool.”



Paradox is a figure of speech in which a contradictory statement is said or written, but the statement tells a hidden reality. 


  • “Every difficulty is an opportunity.”




Imagery is a technique that uses strong sensory words to create a vivid mental picture for the reader. It also refers to the use of vivid and descriptive language to add depth to the writing.

There are five kinds of imagery. They are-

(i)Visual imagery-imagery which is connected with watching(linked with the eye).Example-grey sea, black land

(ii)Auditory imagery-imagery which is connected with listening(linked with ear).Example-sharp scratch

(iii)Tactile imagery-imagery which is connected with touch(linked with skin). Example-slushy sand

(iv)Gustatory imagery-imagery which is connected with taste(linked with tongue). Example-bitter as the cud

(v)Olfactory imagery-imagery which is connected with smell(linked with nose).Example-sea-scented beach



A symbol refers to anything such as an object, person, animal, or color that stands for something else. When the writer uses an object in his writing, but the object represents an idea or feeling to give a different meaning from its literal meaning, it is called a symbol.

Examples- a rose stands for purity and innocence whereas a worm stands for an evil force


Difference between imagery and symbol

    1. Imagery creates mental images in the reader’s mind, whereas symbolism implies a hidden meaning in words.

    2. Imagery appeals to the five external senses and internal senses whereas symbolism appeals to the intellect and emotion.


    A. Identify and explain the figure of speech of the following:

    ♦“A rich man is not richer than a poor man.”

    ♦“Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.”

    ♦“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.”

    ♦“I’m a compulsive liar.”

    ♦“They saw lots of thunder and lightning.”

    ♦“I can resist anything but temptation.”

    ♦“New York is not an ordinary city.”

    ♦“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

    ♦“The more you see, the less you understand.”

    ♦“Words aren’t sufficient for me to adequately express my gratitude to you for what you have done.”

    ♦“Do you hate him because he is incompetent or he’s incompetent because you hate him?”

    ♦“People avoid making mistakes, but you can’t learn a lesson without making mistakes.”

    ♦“Arabs controlled parts of Europe in the Golden Age and now European controlled Arabs.”

    ♦“His father passed away today.”

    ♦“Doing the same thing over and over without any progress is wasting of time, likewise quitting after you invested a lot of time and effort is a wasting of time.”

    ♦“The woman that entered the office was so fat that the whole office shook to its foundation.”

    ♦“A herbalist who claimed he cure any kind of disease took his children to hospital.”

    ♦“People with creative minds are night owls.”

    ♦“Can you give me a hand carrying this book?”

    ♦“During the weekend I stay at home doing nothing.”

    ♦“Less is more.”

    ♦“Beauty of the town caught attention.”

    ♦“People will avoid you if you’re a loser, but they’ll chase you if you’re successful.”

    ♦“Doing “nothing” is doing something, but you can’t do “nothing”.

    ♦“It became obvious the man who reported to the police that his neighbor’s daughter has been kidnapped was the kidnapper himself.”

    ♦“He wasn’t unfamiliar with the country’s lifestyle.”

    ♦“The terrorist was just released from the big house.”

    ♦“Police wanted to recapture the escaped prisoner.”

    ♦“He’s the oldest boy in the school.”

    ♦“His words cut deeper than a knife.”

    ♦“After the protests, maybe Washington will change its decision.”

    ♦“Nigeria witnesses constant change under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”

    ♦“You can save money by spending it.”

    ♦“The tree wet after rain danced on it.”

    ♦“This is the beginning of the end.”

    ♦“He is a loser because he didn’t success in life.”

    ♦“My love for you is as deep as the ocean.”

    ♦“The country’s economy isn’t bad.”

    ♦“Man proposes, God disposes.”

    ♦“Then come, sweet death, and rid me of this grief.”

    ♦“He opened his mind and his wallet every time he went out with her.

    ♦“Rita had spent a horrible night.”

    ♦“Oh, rose, how sweet you smell and how bright you look!”

    ♦“Take the book back.”

    ♦“Your parents that once taking care of you will end up wanting you to take care of them.”

    ♦“Tommy had lost his wallet and his head.”

    ♦“I am not a little surprised at your conduct.”

    ♦“Everybody in Nigeria owned a mobile phone.”

    ♦“I asked the boy to draw a dotted line.”

    ♦“It’s a free gift.”

    ♦“The child is the father of the man.”

    ♦“You bless your friend and enemy.”

    ♦“Some rise by sin, and some virtue fall.”

    ♦“Good app! Good work! Good feature !”

    ♦“And, as I rose upon the stroke, my Boat Went heaving through the water, like a swan.”
    ♦“I struck, and struck again And, growing still in stature, the huge Cliff.”
    ♦“Not without the voice Of mountain echoes did my boat mov’d on.”
    ♦“Awake forever in a sweet unrest.”
    ♦“Let me give you a hand.”

    ♦“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
    ♦“No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend.”
    ♦“Tell them to be good, tell them to follow their elders, and tell them to mind their manners.”

    “The fat cat had a rat.”