figures of speech
turns of phrase, schemes, tropes, ornaments, colors, flowers
schemes and tropes

Groupings of Figures

Among the least consistent but most important aspects of the rhetorical tradition is the systematic arrangement of figures. The simplest arrangements have been broad dichotomies:

  1. figures of speech
  2. figures of thought
    (See Figures of Speech and Thought)


  1. schemes
  2. tropes
    (See Schemes and Tropes)
Within Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric, the figures are associated with larger rhetorical categories to which they are related (For example, figures of division are listed with the Topic of Invention: Division, etc.); also, the figures are grouped according to function or strategy:
Original suggestions for other kinds of groupings are invited.
Please contact Gideon Burton

Figures of Speech: Groupings by rhetorical category


  • Figures in which an audience is addressed:

Persuasive Appeals:

Figures of Speech: Groupings made by well-known authorities (authors and texts)

  1. From Antiquity
  2. From the Middle Ages
    • Geoffrey of Vinsauf (1210)
  3. From the Renaissance
  4. From the 17th and 18th Centuries
  5. From the 19th Century
  6. From the 20th Century

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" (

Trees | SILVA RHETORICAE | Flowers