figures of pathos
figures of speech
groupings index

Although any figure of speech may be employed to evoke an emotional response, many figures are specifically designed to do so, or else are themselves functions of the emotional state of the speaker.

Why are you so stupid?

This use of epiplexis, a kind of rhetorical question, does not seek the information it ostensibly asks for, but is likely an attempt to provoke anger in the listener.

Figures used to provoke emotional response (pathos)

  • adhortatio
    A comandment, promise, or exhortation intended to move one's consent or desires.
  • adynaton
    The expression of the inability of expression —almost always emotional in its nature.
  • aganactesis
    An exclamation proceeding from deep indignation.
  • apagoresis
    A statement designed to inhibit someone from doing something.
  • aposiopesis
    Breaking off suddenly in the middle of speaking, usually to portray being overcome with emotion.
  • apostrophe
    Turning one's speech from one audience to another, or addressing oneself to an abstraction or the absent—almost always as a way of increasing appeal through emotion.
  • cataplexis
    Threatening/prophecying payback for ill doing.
  • conduplicatio
    The repetition of a word or words in adjacent phrases or clauses, either to amplify the thought or to express emotion.
  • congeries
  • deesis
    The vehement expression of desire put in terms of "for someone's sake" or "for God's sake."
  • descriptio
    Vivid description, especially of the consequences of an act, that stirs up its hearers. (See enargia, below)
  • diacope
    Repetition of a word with one or more between, usually to express deep feeling.
  • ecphonesis
    An emotional exclamation.
  • enargia
    Enargia, or vivid description, can be inherently moving, especially when depicting things graphic in nature.
  • energia
    Energia, the vigor with which one expresses oneself, can obviously be emotionally affecting.
  • epanorthosis
    Amending a first thought by altering it to make it stronger or more vehement.
  • epimone
    Persistent repetition of the same plea in much the same words, a direct method for underscoring the pathetic appeal.
  • epiplexis
    Asking questions in order to chide, to express grief, or to inveigh.
  • epitrope
    A figure in which one turns things over to one's hearers (often pathetically).
  • excitatio
    To excite an audience, especially out of a stupor or boredom.
  • exuscitatio
    Stirring others by one's own vehement feeling.
  • inter se pugnantia
    Using direct address to reprove someone before an audience openly.
  • mempsis
    Expressing complaint and seeking help.
  • ominatio
    A prophecy of evil. As the term's name connotes, this can be "ominous" in tone.
  • paenismus
    Expressing joy for blessings obtained or an evil avoided.
  • pathopoeia
    A speech or figure designed to arouse emotion.
  • perclusio
    A threat against someone, or something.
  • synonymia
    The use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds force.
See Also

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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