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Figures by Type with Link Definition
Tropes figures which change the typical meaning of a word or words
Metaplasmic Figures figures which move the letters or syllables of a word from their typical places
Figures of Omission figures which omit something--eg. a word, words, phrases, or clauses--from a sentence
Figures of Repetition (words) figures which repeat one or more words
Figures of Repetition (clauses and ideas) figures which repeat a phrase, a clause or an idea
Figures of Unusual Word Order figures which alter the ordinary order of words or sentences
Figures of Thought a miscellaneous group of figures which deal with emotional appeals and techniques of argument

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Tropes Definition Example
metaphor the substitution of a word for a word whose meaning is close to the original word Poor broken glass, I often did behold/ In thy sweet semblance my old age new born...---The Rape of Lucrece,1758-59
metonymy a noun is substituted for a noun in such a way that we substitute the cause of the thing of which we are speaking for the thing itself; this might be done in several ways: substituting the inventor for his invention, the container for the thing contained or vice versa, an author for his work, the sign for the thing signified, the cause for the effect or vice versa I must comfort the weaker vessel, as doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat.---As You Like It, 2.4.6
synecdoche substitution of part for whole, genus for species, or vice versa Was this the face that launched a thousand ships,/ And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?---Dr. Faustus, 12.80-81
irony expressing a meaning directly contrary to that suggested by the words He was no notorious malefactor, but he had been twice on the pillory, and once burnt in the hand for trifling oversights.---Direccions for Speech and Style
metalepsis a double metonymy in which an effect is represented by a remote cause Woe worth the mountain that the mast bear/ Which was the first causer of all my care (Medea cursing Jason).---The Arte of English Poesie, 183
paradox a seemingly self contradictory statement, which yet is shown to be true For what the waves could never wash away/ This proper youth has wasted in a day.---The Arte of English Poesie, 226
oxymoron a condensed paradox at the level of a phrase O modest wantons! wanton modesty!---The Rape of Lucrece, 401
anthimeria the substitution of one part of speech for another; for instance, an adverb for a noun or a noun for an adverb Lord Angelo dukes it well.---Measure for Measure, 3.2.100
litotes deliberate understatement or denial of the contrary He is no fool.---The Arte of English Poesie, 184
hyperbole exaggerated or extravagant statement used to make a strong impression, but not intended to be taken literally His legs bestrid the ocean, his rear'd arm/ Crested the world, his voice was propertied/ As all the tuned spheres...---Antony and Cleopatra, 5.2.82

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Metaplasmic Figures Definition Example
prosthesis addition of letters to the beginning of a word I all alone beweep my outcast state.---Shakespeare Sonnets, 29
aphaersis omission of letters from the beginning of a word Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?---Hamlet, 2.2.561
epenthesis addition of letters to the middle of a word Lie blist'ring fore the visitating sun.---Two Noble Kinsmen, 1.1.146
syncope omission of letters from the middle of a word Thou thy worldly task hast done,/ Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages. Cymberline, 4.2.258
paragoge addition of letters to the end of a word I can call spirits from the vasty deep.---Henry IV, Part I, 3.1.52
apocope omission of letters from the end of a word I am Sir Oracle,/ And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!---The Merchant of Venice, 1.1.93
antisthecon substitution of a letter or sound for another within a word Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cesse!---All's Well That Ends Well, 5.3.75
metathesis transposition of a letter out of its normal order in a word With liver burning hot. Frevent.---The Merry Wives of Windsor, 2.1.122
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Figures of Omission Definition Example
ellipsis omission of a word And he to England shall along with you.---Hamlet, 3.3.1
zeugma an ellipsis of a verb, in which one verb is used to govern several clauses How Tarquin wronged me, I Collatine.---The Rape of Lucrece, 819
scesis onamaton omission of the verb of a sentence A maid in conversation chaste, in speech mild, in countenance cheerful, in behavior modest ...[etc.]---The Garden of Eloquence
anapodoton omission of a clause Haply you shall not see me more; or if,/ A mangled Shadow.---Antony and Cleopatra, 4.2.26.
aposiopesis stopping a sentence in midcourse so that the statement is unfinished He said you were, I dare not tell you plaine:/ For words once out, never returne againe.---The Arte of English Poesie, 139
occupatio When the orator feigneth and maketh as though he would say nothing in some matter, when, notwithstanding he speaketh most of all, or when he saith something: in saying he will not say it.---The Garden of Eloquence, 130 I will make no mention of his drunken banquets nightly, and his watching with bawds, dicers, whore masters. I will not name his losses, his luxurity, and staining of his honesty.---The Garden of Eloquence, 131
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Figures of Repetition (words) Definition Example
epizeuxis emphatic repetition of a word with no other words between Reputation, reputation, reputation! O! I have lost my reputation.---Othello, 2.3.264
polyptoton repetition of the same word or root in different grammatical functions or forms Disturb his hours of rest with restless trances,/ Afflict him in his bed with bedrid groans;/ Let there bechance him pitiful mischances,/ To make him moan but pity not his moans.---The Rape of Lucrece, 974-977
antanaclasis repetition of a word, but in two different meanings Whoever hath her wish, thou has thy Will,/ And Will to boot, and Will in overplus---Shakespeare Sonnets, 135
anaphora repetition of a word at the beginning of a clause, line, or sentence Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition!---King John, 2.1.561
epistrophe repetition of a word at the end of a clause, line, or sentence I'll have my bond!/ Speak not against my bond!/ I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond.---The Merchant of Venice, 3.3.4
symploce repetition of both beginnings and endings Most true that I must fair Fidessa love,/ Most true that fair Fidessa cannot love./ Most true that I do feel the pains of love,/ Most true that I am captive unto love.---Fidessa, 62
epanalepsis repetition of the beginning at the end Blood hath bought blood, and blows have answer'd blows:/ Strength match'd with strength, and power confronted power.---King John, 2.1.329-30
anadiplosis repetition of the end of a line or clause at the next beginning For I have loved long, I crave reward/ Reward me not unkindly: think on kindness,/ Kindness becommeth those of high regard/ Regard with clemency a poor man's blindness---Fidessa, 16
gradatio repeating anadiplosis My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,/ And every tongue brings in a several tale,/ And every talecondemns me for a villain.---Richard III, 5.3.194
congeries a heaping together and piling up of many words that have a similar meaning But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in/ To saucy doubts and fears.---Macbeth, 3.4.24
antimetabole repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order; a chiasmus on the level of words (AB; BA) Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hearsed,/ and not the puddle in thy sea dispersed.---The Rape of Lucrece, 657-658
pleonasm the needless repetition of words; a tautology on the level of a phrase Sober he seemde, and very sagely sad,/ And to the ground his eyes were lowly bent,/ Simple in shew, and voyde of malice bad...---The Faerie Queene, Book 1, 1.29
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Figures of Repetition (clauses and ideas) Definition Example
auxesis arrangement of clauses or sentences in ascending order of importance I may, I must, I can, I will, I do/ Leave following that which it is gain to miss.---Astrophil and Stella, 47
isocolon repetition of phrases or clauses of equal length and corresponding grammatical structure I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.---Charles V
tautology needless repetition of the same idea in different words; pleonasm on the level of a sentence or sentences If you have a friend, keep your friend, for an old friend is to be preferred before a new friend, this I say to you as your friend.---The Garden of Eloquence, 49
chiasmus reversal of grammatical structures or ideas in sucessive phrases or clauses, which do not necessarily involve a repetition of words But O, what damned minutes tells he o'er/ Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet strongly loves.---Othello, 3.3.169
antithesis repetition of clauses or idea by negation A bliss in proof; and prov'd, a very woe;/ Before, a joy propos'd; behind a dream.---Shakespeare Sonnets, 129
periphrasis the replacement of a single word by several which together have the same meaning; a substitution of more words for less While memory holds a seat/ In this distracted globe...---Hamlet, 1.4.96
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Figures of Unusual Word Order Definition Example
anastrophe arrangment by reversal of ordinary word order, usually confined to the transposition of two words only Figures pedantical---Love's Labour's Lost, 5.2.407
hyperbaton departure from ordinary word order Yet I'll not shed her blood,/ Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow...---Othello, 5.2.3
hysteron proteron reversal of temporal order My dame that bred me up and bare me in her wombe.---The Arte of English Poesie, 142
hypallage a reversal of words which seems to change the sense Open the day, and see if it be the window.---The Garden of Eloquence
parenthesis a word, phrase, or sentence inserted as an aside in a sentence complete by itself But now my Deere (for so love makes me to call you still)/ That love I say, that lucklesse love, that works me all this ill.---The Arte of English Poesie, 141
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Figures of Thought Definition Example
adynaton the impossibility of expressing oneself adequately to the topic Words cannot convey how much your letters have delighted me.---Elementorum rhetorices libri, 44f
aporia true or feigned doubt or deliberation about an issue Whether he took them from his fellows more impudently, gave them to an harlot more lasciviously, removed them from the Roman people more wickedly or altered them more presumptuously, I cannot well declare.---The Garden of Eloquence, 109
correctio a correction or revision of previous words Shameful it is--ay, if the fact be known...---The Rape of Lucrece, 239
prosopopoeia representing an imaginary or absent person as speaking or acting; attributing life, speech or inanimate qualities to dumb or inanimate objects With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies,/ How silently, and with how wan a face!---Astrophil and Stella, 31
apostrophe a diversion of discourse from the topic at hand to addressing some person or thing, either present or absent Within a month.../ She married--O most wicked speed: to post/ With such dexterity to incestuous sheets...---Hamlet, 1.2.153

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