Figures of Speech: Tropes

Trope: An artful deviation from the ordinary or principal signification of a word.

  1. Reference to One Thing as Another

    • Metaphor Reference to one thing as another, implying a comparison.
    • Simile Explicit comparison of one thing to another.
    • Synecdoche A whole is represented by naming one of its parts.
    • Metonymy Reference to something or someone by naming one of its attributes.
    • Personification Reference to abstractions or inanimate objects as though they had human qualities or abilities.

  2. Wordplay and puns

    • Antanaclasis Repetition of a word in two different senses.
    • Paronomasia Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning).
    • Syllepsis Using a word differently in relation to two or more words that it modifies or governs (sometimes called zeugma).
    • Onomatopoeia Use of words whose sound correspond with their semantic value.

  3. Substitutions

    • Anthimeria Substitution of one part of speech for another.
    • Periphrasis Substitution of a descriptive word or phrase for a proper name or of a proper name for a quality associated with the name.

  4. Overstatement/Understatement

    • Hyperbole Use of exaggerated terms for emphasis or effect.
    • Auxesis Reference to something with a name disproportionately greater than its nature (a kind of hyberbole).
    • Litotes Understatement used deliberately.
    • Meiosis Reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes).

  5. Semantic Inversions

    • Rhetorical Question Asking a question for a purpose other than obtaining the information requested.
    • Irony Using language in such a way as to convey a meaning opposite of what the terms used denote (often by exaggeration).
    • Oxymoron Placing two ordinarily opposing terms adjacent to one another. A compressed paradox.
    • Paradox An apparently contradictory statement that contains a measure of truth.

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Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University
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