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Language and Grammar

Rhetorical Devices

Ancient Greek philosopher, orators and writers were masters of rhetoric – combining words in such a way as to produce a variety of powerful effects upon their audience.

Skillful speakers make use of rhetorical devices to enrich their speeches.

Here is a summary catalog of the most common:

1. Alliteration
The repetition of an initial consonant sound.
2. Anaphora
The repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses. (Contrast with epiphora and epistrophe.)
3. Antithesis
The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
4. Apostrophe
Breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing, some abstract quality, an inanimate object, or a nonexistent character.
5. Assonance
Identity or similarity in sound between internal vowels in neighbouring words.
6. Chiasmus
A verbal pattern in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed.
7. Euphemism
The substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit.
8. Hyperbole
An extravagant statement; the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect.
9. Irony
The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. A statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea.
10. Litotes
A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite.
11. Metaphor
An implied comparison between two unlike things that actually have something important in common.
12. Metonymy
A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it’s closely associated; also, the rhetorical strategy of describing something indirectly by referring to things around it.
13. Onomatopoeia
The use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
14. Oxymoron
A figure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory terms appear side by side.
15. Paradox
A statement that appears to contradict itself.
16. Personification
A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities.
17. Pun
A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
18. Simile
A stated comparison (usually formed with “like” or “as”) between two fundamentally dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common.
19. Synecdoche
A figure of speech in which a part is used to represent the whole (for example,ABCs for alphabet) or the whole for a part (“England won the World Cup in 1966”).
20. Understatement
A figure of speech in which a writer or speaker deliberately makes a situation seem less important or serious than it is.