Rhetorical Devices

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1. Abstract language – Language that deals with concepts and intangibles, as distinguished from concrete language, which names physical objects (lesson 14) 2. Adage – A traditional saying expressing a common experience or observation. 3. Ad hominem – Appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason. Attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument. 4. Allegory – A representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another. 5. Alliteration – The repetition of initial sounds in successive words. 6. Allusion – A passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication: an allusion to Shakespeare. 7. Ambiguity –Doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: to speak with ambiguity; an ambiguity of manner. 8. Anachronism – Something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, esp. a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time: The sword in an anachronism in modern warfare. 9. Anaphora – A rhetorical device in which a word or phrase is repeated at the beginnings of successive phrases or sentences. Compare this to epistrophe, where such repetitions occur at the ends. (lesson 10. Analogy – A similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump. 11. Anecdote – A short account of a particular incident or event of an interesting or amusing nature, often biographical. 12. Annotation – A critical or explanatory note or body of notes added to a text. 13. Antagonist – A person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary. 14. Antecedent – Grammar. A word, phrase, or clause, usually a substantive, that is replaced by a pronoun or other substitute later, or occasionally earlier, in the same or in another, usually subsequent, sentence. In Jane lost a glove and she can’t find it, Jane is the antecedent of she and glove is the antecedent of it. 15. Antithesis – A rhetorical device which employs a balanced pair of opposites . (lesson 16. Aphorism – A terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton). 17. Apollonian – Pertaining to the cult of Apollo; serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised and disciplined; having the properties of or preferring classic beauty. (Compare Dionysian) 18. Apostrophe – A digression in the form of an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea, as “O Death, where is thy sting?” 19. Arch – Playful roguish, or mischievous: an arch smile. Cunning; crafty; sly. 20. Archetype – An original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; a prototype: “’Frankenstein’. . . ‘Dracula’ . . . ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ . . . the archetypes that have influenced all subsequent horror stories” (New York Times). 21. Argument – The process by which a writer tries to persuade a reader to adopt a particular view. (lesson2) 22. Arrangement – The order in which ideas are presented in a speech or essay. 23. Artistic proofs – The proofs that are within the control of the speaker or writer; identified by Aristotle as ethos, logos, and pathos. 24. Assonance – Resemblance of sound, especially of the vowel sounds in words, as in: “that dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea” (William Butler Yeats). The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, especially in stressed syllables, with changes in the intervening consonants, as in the phrase tilting at windmills. 25. Asyndeton – A rhetorical device in which expected conjunctions are omitted. Compare this to polysyndeton, where there are more conjunctions than usual. (lesson 26. Attitude – Manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: a...
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