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Flashcards in Rhetorical Devices Deck (60)
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1

Alliteration

The recurrence of initial consonant sounds.
"Ah, what a delicious day!"
"Yes, I have read that little bundle of pernicious prose, but I have no comment to make upon it."
"Done well, alliteration is a satisfying sensation."

2

Allusion

A short, informal reference to a famous person or event.
"If you take his parking place, you can expect World War II all over again."
"Plan ahead: it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark."

3

Amplification

involves repeating a word or expression while adding more detail to it, in order to emphasize what might otherwise be passed over. In other words, amplification allows you to call attention to, emphasize, and expand a word or idea to make sure the reader realizes its importance or centrality in the discussion.
"This orchard, this lovely, shady orchard, is the main reason I bought this property."
"Pride--boundless pride--is the bane of civilization."

4

Anacoluthon

Finishing a sentence with a different grammatical structure from that with which it began. (Almost like interrupting yourself).
"And then the deep rumble from the explosion began to shake the very bones of... no one had ever felt anything like it."
"Be careful with these two devices because improperly used they can... well, I have cautioned you enough."

5

Anadiplosis

Repeats the last word of one phrase, clause, or sentence at or very near the beginning of the next.
"How much confidence can we put in the people, when the people have elected Joe Doax?"
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

6

Analogy

Compares two things, which are alike in several respects, for the purpose of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or difficult idea or object by showing how the idea or object is similar to some familiar one.
"You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables."
"Knowledge always desires increase: it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself."

7

Anaphora

Is the repetition of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences, commonly in conjunction with climax and with parallelism.
"In books I find the dead as if they were alive; in books I foresee things to come; in books warlike affairs are set forth; from books come forth the laws of peace."

8

Antanagoge

Placing a good point or benefit next to a fault criticism, or problem in order to reduce the impact or significance of the negative point.
"True, he always forgets my birthday, but he buys me presents all year round."
"The new anti-pollution equipment will increase the price of the product slightly, I am aware; but the effluent water from the plant will be actually cleaner than the water coming in."

9

Antimetabole

reversing the order of repeated words or phrases (a loosely chiastic structure, AB-BA) to intensify the final formulation, to present alternatives, or to show contrast.
"All work and no play is as harmful to mental health as all play and no work."
"Ask not what you can do for rhetoric, but what rhetoric can do for you."

10

Antiphrasis

one word irony, established by context.
"Come here, Tiny," he said to the fat man.

11

Antithesis

establishes a clear, contrasting relationship between two ideas by joining them together or juxtaposing them.
"That short and easy trip made a lasting and profound change in Harold's outlook."
"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." --Neil Armstrong.

12

Apophasis (also called praeteritio or occupatio).

asserts or emphasizes something by pointedly seeming to pass over, ignore, or deny it.
This device has both legitimate and illegitimate uses. Legitimately, a writer uses it to call attention to sensitive or inflammatory facts or statements while he remains apparently detached from them.

"I pass over the fact that Jenkins beats his wife, is an alcoholic, and sells dope to kids, because we will not allow personal matters to enter into our political discussion."
"She's bright, well-read, and personable--to say nothing of her modesty and generosity."

13

Aporia

expresses doubt about an idea or conclusion. Among its several uses are the suggesting of alternatives without making a commitment to either or any.

"I am not sure whether to side with those who say that higher taxes reduce inflation or with those who say that higher taxes increase inflation."
"I have never been able to decide whether I really approve of dress codes, because extremism seems to reign both with them and without them."

14

Aposiopesis

stopping abruptly and leaving a statement unfinished.

"If they use that section of the desert for bombing practice, the rock hunters will..."
"I've got to make the team or I'll..."

15

Apostrophe

interrupts the discussion or discourse and addresses directly a person or personified thing, either present or absent.
"O books who alone are liberal and free, who give to all who ask of you and enfranchise all who serve you faithfully!"
"O heavenly gift of the divine bounty, descending from the Father of lights, that thou mayest exalt the rational soul to the very heavens!"

16

Appositive

A noun or noun substitute placed next to (in apposition to) another noun to be described or defined by the appositive.

"Henry Jameson, the boss of the operation, always wore a red baseball cap. [This shows the subject (Henry Jameson) with the appositive (the boss of the operation) following the subject.]"
"A notorious annual feast, the picnic was well attended. [Here, the appositive (notorious annual feast) is in front of the subject (the picnic).]"
"That evening we were all at the concert, a really elaborate and exciting affair. [Here the appositive (elaborate and exciting etc.) follows the noun, which is the object of a preposition (concert).]"

17

Assonance

similar vowel sounds repeated in successive or proximate words containing different consonants.

"A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."
[The i in hill and hid show assonance.]

18

Asyndeton

consists of omitting conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. In a list of items, asyndeton gives the effect of unpremeditated multiplicity.
"On his return he received medals, honors, treasures, titles, fame."
The lack of the "and" conjunction gives the impression that the list is perhaps not complete.

19

Catachresis

Is an extravagant, implied metaphor using words in an alien or unusual way.
"I will speak daggers to her."
"It's a dentured lake," he said, pointing at the dam. "Break a tooth out of that grin and she will spit all the way to Duganville."

20

Chiasmus

Might be called "reverse parallelism," since the second part of a grammatical construction is balanced or paralleled by the first part, only in reverse order. Instead of an A,B structure (e.g., "learned unwillingly") paralleled by another A,B structure ("forgotten gladly"), the A,B will be followed by B,A ("gladly forgotten"). So instead of writing,
"What is learned unwillingly is forgotten gladly,"
you could write,
"What is learned unwillingly is gladly forgotten."
Similarly, the parallel sentence,
"What is now great was at first little," could be written chiastically as, "What is now great was little at first."

21

Climax

Consists of arranging words, clauses, or sentences in the order of increasing importance, weight, or emphasis. Parallelism usually forms a part of the arrangement, because it offers a sense of continuity, order, and movement-up the ladder of importance.
"To have faults is not good, but faults are human. Worse is to have them and not see them. Yet beyond that is to have faults, to see them, and to do nothing about them. But even that seems mild compared to him who knows his faults, and who parades them about and encourages them as though they were virtues."
In this we can also see the sections increasing in length to add climax.

22

Conduplicatio

resembles anadiplosis in the repetition of a preceding word, but it repeats a key word (not just the last word) from a preceding phrase, clause, or sentence, at the beginning of the next.
"The strength of the passions will never be accepted as an excuse for complying with them; the passions were designed for subjection."
"If this is the first time duty has moved him to act against his desires, he is a very weak man indeed. Duty should be cultivated and obeyed in spite of its frequent conflict with selfish wishes."

23

Diacope

repetition of a word or phrase after an intervening word or phrase as a method of emphasis.
"We will do it, I tell you; we will do it."
"We give thanks to Thee, 0 God, we give thanks."

24

Dirimens Copulatio

Mentioning a balancing or opposing fact to prevent the argument from being one-sided or unqualified.
"This car is extremely sturdy and durable. It's low maintenance; things never go wrong with it. Of course, if you abuse it, it will break."

25

Distinctio

is an explicit reference to a particular meaning or to the various meanings of a word, in order to remove or prevent ambiguity.
"To make methanol for twenty-five cents a gallon is impossible; by "impossible" I mean currently beyond our technological capabilities."
"The precipitate should be moved from the filter paper to the crucible quickly--that is, within three minutes."

26

Enthymeme

is an informally-stated syllogism which omits either one of the premises or the conclusion. The omitted part must be clearly understood by the reader. The usual form of this logical shorthand omits the major premise.

"Since your application was submitted before April 10th, it will be considered. [Omitted premise: All applications submitted before April 10 will be considered.]"

27

Enumeratio

Detailing parts, causes, effects, or consequences to make a point more forcibly.

"I love her eyes, her hair, her nose, her cheeks, her lips."

"When the new highway opened, more than just the motels and restaurants prospered. The stores noted a substantial increase in sales, more people began moving to town, a new dairy farm was started, the old Main Street Theater doubled its showings and put up a new building . . . "

28

Epanalepsis

Repeats the beginning word of a clause or sentence at the end. The beginning and the end are the two positions of strongest emphasis in a sentence, so by having the same word in both places, you call special attention to it.

"Water alone dug this giant canyon; yes, just plain water."
"To report that your committee is still investigating the matter is to tell me that you have nothing to report."

29

Epistrophe

forms the counterpart to anaphora, because the repetition of the same word or words comes at the "end" of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences.

"Where affections bear rule, there reason is subdued, honesty is subdued, good will is subdued, and all things else that withstand evil, for ever are subdued."

30

Epithet

Is an adjective or adjective phrase appropriately qualifying a subject (noun) by naming a key or important characteristic of the subject,

as in "laughing happiness," "sneering contempt," "untroubled sleep," "peaceful dawn," and "lifegiving water."

Sometimes a metaphorical epithet will be good to use, as in "lazy road," "tired landscape," "smirking billboards," "anxious apple."