A person can only be a good writer or a good speaker when he or she is familiar with the figures of speech. A certain level of familiarity with the figures of speech can actually help a person get to the level of an expert, the kind of whiz who is maven in the use of the English language. It does not take much to write a piece of text or deliver a speech. However, it takes quite a lot to be creative while still sticking to the rules. The figures of speech, as far as the English language is concerned, are all about rules. Sticking to them will only help you be a better writer or an orator. If you have always been craving to gain efficiency in English language and familiarize yourself with the figures of speech, here is your chance. Read on to discover valuable information on it. Although what is to come your way is a list of sorts, it is nevertheless a comprehensive one and could be put to good use.
List of Figures Of Speech
Personification is all about adding a human trait to an inanimate object or an abstraction.
For example: The picture in that magazine shouted for attention.
A simile is a figure of speech that compares two unrelated things or ideas using "like" or "as" to accentuate a certain feature of an object by comparing it to a dissimilar object that is a typical example of that particular trait.
For example: as big as a bus, as clear as a bell, as dry as a bone, etc.
An analogy is a figure of speech that equates two things to explain something unfamiliar by highlighting its similarities to something that is familiar. This figure of speech is commonly used in spoken and written English.
For example: Questions and answers, crying and laughing, etc.
A metaphor compares two different or unrelated things to reveal certain new qualities in the subject, which you might have ignored or overlooked otherwise.
For example: The streets of Chennai are a furnace.
Alliteration is the duplication of a specific consonant sound at the start of each word and in quick succession. Although alliterations are all about consonant sounds, exceptions can be made, when vowels sounds are also repeated. This figure of speech is commonly seen in poems.
For example: "Guinness is good for you" - Tagline for Guinness
A far-fetched, over exaggerated description or sentence is called as hyperbole and is commonly used in jokes and making backhanded compliments.
For example: When she smiles, her cheeks fall off.
This figure of speech is partly pleasure and partly business. It is used to replicate sounds created by objects, actions, animals and people.
For example: Cock-a-doodle-do, quack, moo, etc.
Imagery is a figure of speech, which employs words to create mental images in the mind of the reader. It is a powerful tool and mostly used by poets, lyricists and authors. For example: "Cloudless everyday you fall upon my waking eyes inviting and inciting me to rise, And through the window in the wall, Come streaming in on sunlight wings, A million bright ambassadors of morning." - A portion of the lyrics to the song 'Echoes' by the band Pink Floyd
Symbol refers to the use of an object or symbol to represent or indicate something else.
For example: The symbolism of a red rose (love), the symbolism of a white flag (peace), etc.
A pun is a figure of speech that plays with words to give away obscured meanings. A pun is also known as paronomasia.
For example: My son wanted a scooter. When I told him they are too dangerous, he moped around the house.
An allegory is nothing but an improvised metaphor. It is a figure of speech, which involves the use of characters or actions in a piece of literature, wherein the characters have more to them than meets the eye.
For example: The Trojan Women by Euripides,
Aesop's Fables by Aesop.
Tautology is needless repetition of words to denote the same thing.
For example: CD-ROM disk, PIN number, ATM machine, etc.
A palindrome is a series of numbers, words or phrases that reads the same in either direction.
For example: Malayalam, A Toyota's a Toyota, etc.
Euphemism is a figure of speech where an offensive word or expression is replaced with a polite word.
For example: David: Do you have a few minutes?
Ryan: No, I'm busy.
David: Ok, listen...
Ryan: No, you listen, when I said 'busy', I meant leave me the hell alone.
Assonance is a repetition of the vowel sounds. Such a figure of speech is found most commonly in short sentences or verses.
For example: And murmuring of innumerable bees.
An idiom is a phrase, expression or group of words whose implication is not clear when you go by the literal meaning of words.
For example: As easy as pie, at the eleventh hour, pull someone's leg, etc.
Funny metaphors are metaphors that ring aloud with humor.
For example: That's like trying to thread a needle with a haystack.
An allusion is an indirect or subtle reference made about a person, place or thing in a work of literature.
For example: I am no Prince Hamlet.
An antecedent, in grammar, is a word, a phrase, or a clause that is usually replaced by a pronoun in a sentence, but regularly so in a following sentence.
For example: When I arrived to meet Caleb, he wasn't to be seen.
Jargon is the kind of language that is specific to a particular trade, occupation, professionals or group of people.
For example: I need your vitals.
A double negative is a figure of speech that occurs when two negative words or two forms of negation are used in one sentence.
For example: I won't not use no ladder to climb the building.
An adjunction is a phrase or a clause that is placed at the start of a sentence. An adjunction, in most cases, is a verb.
For example: Runs the leopard past us as we stray deeper into his territory.
An antithesis is a figure of speech where two very opposing lines of thought or ideas are placed in a somewhat balanced sentenced.
For example: Man proposes: God disposes.
An apostrophe is used when a person who is absent or nonexistent is spoken to.
For example: "Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky."
In a climax, the words are placed in an ascending order, depending on their significance. These words generally revolve around a central theme and are arranged in an increasing order to create a strong impression on the mind of the reader.
For example: "There are three things that will endure: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13
A metonymy is a figure of speech where one word or phrase is used in place of another. With metonymies, a name of a particular thing is substituted with the name of a thing that is closely related to it.
For example: "We have always remained loyal to the crown."
Oxymoron involves the usage of contradictory terms to describe an object, situation or incident.
For example: open secret, tragic comedy, exact estimate, original copies, etc.
This is figure of speech where a part of a particular object is employed to throw light on the whole thing.
For example: Describing a whole vehicle as just "wheels".
A stereotype, as far as the figures of speech are concerned, is a convention, a predisposition or a set approach to any particular issue.
For example: All blondes are dumb.
An anastrophe refers to an inversion or rearrangement of a group of words that usually appear in a certain order.
For example: Gold that glitters is not all that not. (All that glitters is gold)
An anaphora is an expression, which refers to another and can be ambiguous.
For example: The tiger ate the snake and it died. Longfellow
This figure of speech uses the name of a person on another person or persons possessing characteristics that are similar to the characteristics of the former.
For example: He was the Adolf Hitler of the school.
Litotes are nothing but an understatement. It can be used when you are looking to underplay a positive with a negative.
For example: The food at that restaurant is not bad at all.
A paralipsis is a figure of speech that focuses on any particular thing without really making it obvious.
For example: I know who ate the last apple, but I will not mention Karen's name.
Rhetoric in writing refers to an unexplained and undue use of exaggeration.
For example: When I reached the peak of the mountain, I stretched out my hands, touched heaven and took a quick look at the Almighty!
Zeugma refers to the employment of a word to bridge two or more words, but here the word makes sense to one word or all words in dissimilar ways.
For example: She lowered her standards by raising her glass, her courage, her eyes and his hopes.
An anticlimax as a figure speech refers to the building up a climax that results in something that cannot really be described as a climax.
For example: On discovering that his friend was murdered, with vengeance on his mind Ravi rushed back to his college, only to find his friend sipping on coffee in the college canteen.
Consonance refers to the repetition of consonant sounds, within the limits of a sentence or a certain number of sentences.
For example: "Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here. To watch his woods fill up with snow." - Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
Irony is used to stress on the opposite meaning of a word. When people are looking to be sarcastic, they employ irony.
For example: He was so intelligent, that he failed all his tests.
Polysyndeton refers to that figure of speech which makes good use of conjunctions and in close succession.
For example: He ran and jumped and laughed for joy.
A rhetorical question is a question wherein the answer is more than obvious.
For example: A person enters a dark room and asks out loud - 'Has someone turned off the lights?'
Anadiplosis refers to the repetition of a significant word in a sentence in the second part of the same sentence, usually with a slight change in its meaning or an exaggerated word for the same.
For example: "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." -Yoda, Star Wars
Appositive is a word or phrase that is used in juxtaposing related issues.
For example, Jeanne, Diane's eleven-year-old beagle, chews holes in the living room carpeting as if he were still a puppy.
An enthymeme is a figure of speech where an argument that is being made has no definite conclusion or is not completely expressed.
For example, "With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good."
In the English language, parallelism refers to balance created between two or more similar words and sentences.
For example, I like rich desserts, fast card-games, and difficult riddles.
This is a figure of speech that conveniently ignores the use of conjunctions.
For example, She has provided with a chance to earn a living, with self-respect, with satisfaction.
Parenthesis refers to a self explanatory and contradicting word or sentence that breaks the flow in a series of sentences, often without affecting the flow in an obvious manner. Commas and dashes are employed when a parenthesis is used.
For example, Would you, Kris, listen to me?
An antimetabole is a figure of speech, where the second half of a sentence, phrase or series is in the exact opposite order of the first part.
For example, E,F,G - G,F,E
Epistrophe or epiphora is the repetition of the same word or words at the end of consecutive phrases, clauses or sentences. It is extremely emphatic and is usually employed to stress the last word in a phrase or sentence.
For example, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us." -Emerson
Understatement is a figure of speech that is used to undermine the due importance of a statement.
For example, "A soiled baby, with a neglected nose, cannot be conscientiously regarded as a thing of beauty." - (Mark Twain)
hiasmus is another important figure of speech wherein two or more clauses are joined together through a reversing the syntax to convey a bigger point.
For example, "I flee who chases me, and chase who flees me." - (Ovid)
An epithet can be best defined as a descriptive title that commonly involves a word or a phrase that is used in lieu of the real name.
For example: Alexander the Great.
Verbal irony is one of the most commonly employed tropes in literature that is pregnant with hidden connotations and usually has more to eat than meets the eye. It usually denotes the opposite of what is expressed.
For example: "Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man." - Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
An elaborate comparison of two dissimilar things is called false analogy.
For example: There has to be life on other planets because as of today no one has been able to conclusively prove that there is no life.
Above mentioned were definitions and examples of the figures of speech. The definitions and examples should help you acquaint yourself to the figures of speech. However, it might take you sometime before you become an expert in using these figures of speech. Here's wishing you best of luck as you strive to master figures of speech and exploit it to polish your language skills.