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Tool Kit for Rhetorical Analysis accismus Coyness: a form of irony in which a person feigns a lack of interest in something that he or she actually desires. accumulation Figure of speech in which a speaker or a writer gathers scattered points and lists them together. allegory Extending a metaphor so that objects, persons, and actions in a text are equated with meanings that lie outside the text. alliteration Repetition of initial consonant sound. allusion A brief, usually indirect reference to a person, place, or event--real or fictional. ambiguity The presence of two or more possible meanings in any passage. amplification General term for all of the ways that an argument, an explanation, or a description can be expanded and enriched. anadiplosis Repetition of the last word of one line or clause to begin the next. analogy (rhetoric) Reasoning or arguing from parallel cases. anaphora Repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses. anticipation General name for argumentative strategies whereby a speaker or writer foresees and replies to objections. anticlimax An abrupt shift from a noble tone to a less exalted one--often for comic effect. antirrhesis Rejecting an argument because of its insignificance, error, or wickedness. antithesis Juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases. antonomasia Substitution of a title, epithet, or descriptive phrase for a proper name (or of a personal name for a common name) to designate a member of a group or class. aphorism (1) A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion. (2) A brief statement of a principle. aporia The expression of real or simulated doubt or perplexity. aposiopesis An unfinished thought or broken sentence. apostrophe (1) Mark of punctuation used to indicate possessive case or omission of a letter. (2) Rhetorical term for breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing. apposition


Placing side-by-side two coordinate elements, the second of which serves as an explanation or modification of the first. arrangement The parts of a speech or the structure of a text. assonance Identity or similarity in sound between internal vowels in neighboring words. asyndeton Omission of conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses (opposite of "polysyndeton"). auxesis A gradual increase in intensity of meaning with words arranged in ascending order of force or importance. bdelygmia A litany of abuse--a series of critical epithets, descriptions, or attributes. boosting An adverbial construction used to support a claim or express a viewpoint more assertively and convincingly. categoria Direct exposure of an adversary's faults. chiasmus A verbal pattern in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed. chleuasmos A sarcastic reply that mocks an opponent, leaving him or her without an answer. climax Mounting by degrees through words or sentences of increasing weight and in parallel construction with an emphasis on the high point or culmination of a series of events. commonplace Any statement or bit of knowledge that is commonly shared among a given audience or a community. commoratio Repetition of a point several times in different words. confirmation The main part of a speech or text in which logical arguments in support of a position are elaborated. concession Argumentative strategy by which a speaker or writer concedes a disputed point or leaves a disputed point to the audience or reader to decide. connotation The emotional implications and associations that a word may carry. copia Expansive richness as a stylistic goal. crot Verbal bit or fragment used as an autonomous unit without transitional devices. deduction A method of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the stated premises. dehortatio Dissuasive advice given with authority. deliberative rhetoric


Speech or writing that attempts to persuade an audience to take (or not to take) some action. delivery One of the five traditional parts or canons of rhetoric, concerned with control of voice and gestures. demonstrative rhetoric See epideictic: persuasion that deals with values that bring a group together; the rhetoric of ceremony, commemoration, declamation, demonstration, play, and display. denotation The direct or dictionary meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings. diacope Repetition broken up by one or more intervening words. diatyposis Recommending useful precepts or advice to someone else. distinctio Explicit references to various meanings of a word--usually for the purpose of removing ambiguities. dysphemism Substitution of a more offensive or disparaging word or phrase for one considered less offensive. effectio Personal description; a head-to-toe inventory of a person's physical attributes or charms. ellipsis Omission of one or more words, which must be supplied by the listener or reader. encomium Tribute or eulogy in prose or verse glorifying people, objects, ideas, or events. enthymeme An informally stated syllogism with an implied premise. epanalepsis Repetition at the end of a clause or sentence of the word or phrase with which it began. epicrisis Circumstance in which a speaker quotes a passage and comments on it. epideictic rhetoric Speech or writing that praises or blames. epimone Frequent repetition of a phrase or question; dwelling on a point. epiphora Repetition of a word or phrase at the end of several clauses. epiplexis Asking questions to reproach rather than to elicit answers. epithet Using an appropriate adjective (often habitually) to characterize a person or thing. epizeuxis Repetition of a word for emphasis (usually with no words in between). erotesis A rhetorical question implying strong affirmation or denial. ethopoeia


Putting oneself in place of another so as to both understand and express his or her feelings more vividly. ethos Persuasive appeal based on the projected character of the speaker or narrator. euphemism Substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit. euphuism Elaborately patterned prose style evidence Facts, documentation, or testimony used to strengthen a claim or reach a conclusion. exordium The introductory part of an argument in which a speaker or writer establishes credibility (ethos) and announces the subject and purpose of the discourse. exuscitatio Emotional utterance that seeks to move hearers to a like feeling. fable A short narrative meant to teach a moral lesson. figures of speech The various uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance. gradatio A rhetorical term for a sentence construction in which the last word of one clause becomes the first of the next, through three or more clauses. hyperbole An extravagant statement; the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect. hypophora Raising questions and answering them. hypotaxis An arrangement of phrases or clauses in a dependent or subordinate relationship. identification Any of the wide variety of means by which an author may establish a shared sense of values, attitudes, and interests with his or her readers. induction Method of reasoning by which a rhetor collects a number of instances and forms a generalization that is meant to apply to all instances. invective Denunciatory or abusive language; discourse that casts blame on somebody or something. invention The discovery of the resources for persuasion inherent in any given rhetorical problem. irony Use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. A statement or situation where the meaning is directly contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea. isocolon A succession of phrases of approximately equal length and corresponding structure. judicial rhetoric Speech or writing that considers the justice or injustice of a certain charge or accusation. kairos The opportune time and/or place, the right time to say or do the right thing.


litotes A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite. logos In classical rhetoric, the means of persuasion by demonstration of the truth, real or apparent. meiosis To belittle, use a degrading epithet, often through a trope of one word; rhetorical understatement. memory One of the traditional five parts or canons of rhetoric, that which considers methods and devices to aid and improve the memory. metaphor An implied comparison between two unlike things that actually have something important in common. metonymy A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated (such as "crown" for "royalty"). narratio The part of an argument in which a speaker or writer provides a narrative account of what has happened and explains the nature of the case. onomatopoeia The formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to. oxymoron A figure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory terms appear side by side. parable A short and simple story that illustrates a lesson. paradox A statement that appears to contradict itself. paralepsis Emphasizing a point by seeming to pass over it. See apophasis. parallelism Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses. parataxis Phrases or clauses arranged independently: a coordinate, rather than a subordinate, construction. parenthesis (1) Either or both of the upright curved lines, ( ), used to mark off explanatory or qualifying remarks in writing. (2) The insertion of a verbal unit that interrupts the normal flow of the sentence. pathos The means of persuasion in classical rhetoric that appeals to the audience's emotions. periodic sentence Long and frequently involved sentence, marked by suspended syntax, in which the sense is not completed until the final word--usually with an emphatic climax. peroration The closing part of an argument. persona


Voice or mask that an author or speaker or performer puts on for a particular purpose. personification A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities. ploce Repetition of a word with a new or specified sense, or with pregnant reference to its special significance. polyptoton Repetition of words derived from the same root but with different endings. polysyndeton A style that employs a great many conjunctions (opposite of "asyndeton"). prolepsis (1) Foreseeing and forestalling objections in various ways. (2) Figurative device by which a future event is presumed to have already occurred. proverb Short, pithy statement of a general truth, one that condenses common experience into memorable form. pun A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words. refutation The part of an argument wherein a speaker or writer anticipates and counters opposing points of view. rhetor (1) A speaker or writer. (2) A teacher of rhetoric. rhetoric The study and practice of effective communication. rhetorical canons In classical rhetoric, the five overlapping offices or divisions of the rhetorical process. rhetorical question A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected. rhetorical situation The context of a rhetorical act; minimally, made up of a rhetor, an issue, and an audience. running style Sentence style that appears to follow the mind as it worries a problem through. series A list of three or more items, usually arranged in parallel form. simile A stated comparison (usually formed with "like" or "as") between two fundamentally dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common. sprezzatura The rehearsed spontaneity, the studied carelessness, the well-practiced naturalness that lies at the center of convincing discourse of any sort. style Narrowly interpreted as those figures that ornament speech or writing; broadly, as representing a manifestation of the person speaking or writing. syllogism A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.


synecdoche A figure of speech is which a part is used to represent the whole, the whole for a part, the specific for the general, the general for the specific, or the material for the thing made from it. tapinosis Undignified language that debases a person or thing. tenor The underlying idea or the principal subject that is the meaning of a metaphor. testimony A person's account of an event or state of affairs. tetracolon climax A series of four members. tricolon Series of three parallel words, phrases, or clauses. trope Rhetorical device that produces a shift in the meaning of words--traditionally contrasted with a scheme, which changes only the shape of a phrase. understatement Figure of speech in which a writer deliberately makes a situation seem less important or serious than it is. vehicle In a metaphor, the figure itself. A metaphor carries two ideas: the vehicle and the tenor, or underlying idea. voice The quality of a verb that indicates whether its subject acts (active voice) or is acted upon (passive voice). zeugma Use of a word to modify or govern two or more words although its use may be grammatically or logically correct with only one.


Figurative Language