Stylistic Vices  

A rich vocabulary has been developed for identifying stylistic faults. The terms for stylistic vices do not strictly denote changes of meaning or arrangement as do most terms for rhetorical figures; rather, these are qualitative labels whose accuracy will always be relative to the context and purpose.

Every dimension or aspect of style has vices associated with it, and every vice has a corresponding virtue. Indeed, the very same locution may in one sense be regarded as exemplifying a stylistic virtue, and in another, a vice.

It is helpful to understand that all figurative language alters the normal meaning or arrangement of words to some degree. When figurative language is apt for a given context and purpose, it is eloquent and effective (and thus exemplifies one or more of the virtues of style); when figurative language is not apt for a given context and purpose, it is ineloquent and ineffective (and thus exemplifies one or more of the vices of style).

  • battologia
    Vain repetition.
  • tautologia
    The repetition of the same idea in different words, but (often) in a way that is wearisome or unnecessary.
  • perissologia
    Superfluity of speech generally; the vice of wordiness.
  • macrologia
    Longwindedness. Using more words than are necessary in an attempt to appear eloquent.
  • parelcon
    The addition of a superfluous word.
  • pleonasmus
    Use of more words than is necessary semantically. Rhetorical repetition that is grammatically superfluous.
  • homoeoprophoron
    Repetition of the same consonant (especially the initial consonant) in neighboring words.
  • paroemion
    Alliteration taken to an extreme where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant.
  • homiologia
    Tedious and inane repetition.
  • epenthesis
    The addition of a letter, sound, or syllable to the middle of a word. A kind of metaplasm that can be a vice.
  • catachresis
    The use of a word in a context that differs from its proper application.
  • periergia
    Overuse of words or figures of speech; over-labored.
  • acyrologia
    An incorrect use of words, especially the use of words that sound alike but are far in meaning from the speakerís intentions.
  • hypallage
    Shifting the application of words.
  • solecismus
    An element of speech or writing that is incorrect grammatically.
  • barbarismus
    The use of nonstandard or foreign speech (= cacozelia); the use of a word awkwardly forced into a poem's meter; or unconventional pronunciation.
  • soraismus
    To mingle different languages affectedly or without skill.
  • heterogenium
    Avoiding an issue by changing the subject to something different.
  • amphibologia
    Ambiguity of grammatical structure, often occasioned by mispunctuation.
  • cacemphaton (=aischrologia)
    An expression that is deliberately either foul (such as crude language) or ill-sounding (such as from excessive alliteration).
  • cacosyntheton
    The ill placing of words, as when an adjective improperly follows a noun or when there is any other unpleasing order of words.
  • bomphiologia
    Exaggeration done in a self-aggrandizing manner, as a braggart.
  • cacozelia
    A stylistic affectation of diction, such as throwing in foreign words to appear learned. Bad taste in words or selection of metaphor, either to make the facts appear worse or to disgust the auditors.
  • acyron
    The use of a word repugnant or contrary to what is meant.
  • aschematiston
    The use of plain, unadorned or unornamented language. Or, the unskilled use of figurative language.
  • hypallage
    Shifting the application of words. Mixing the order of which words should correspond with which others.
  • parrhesia
    Either to speak candidly or to ask forgiveness for so speaking. Sometimes considered a vice.
  • graecismus
    Using Greek words, examples, or grammatical structures. Sometimes considered an affectation of erudition.

See Also

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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