Honors Language and Composition Rhetorical Terms


The repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables
Ex. She sells seashells by the seashore


A reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art
Ex. Don't act like a Scrooge


A comparison of two different things that are similar in some way
Ex. He was as busy as a bee


Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines
Ex. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...


A short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person
Ex. I woke up and was blinded by the sun. Why is the sun so bright in the morning? I grabbed my phone and looked at the time. I did it again. I ran downstairs and grabbed my bag, bol


Something out of place in time
Ex. So easy, a caveman could do it


A statement of truth or opinion expressed in a concise and witty manner.
Ex. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise


When a speaker breaks off from addressing one party and instead addresses a third party
Ex. Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee! I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.


Assonance - repetition of vowels in a sentence
Ex. I crawl away from the ball.
Consonance - Repetition of consonants in a sentence
Ex. Some mammals are clammy.


The word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers
Ex. Tom was late to school because the traffic held him up


The literary scheme in which one or more conjunctions are deliberately omitted from a series of related clauses
Ex. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil


Cacophony: a harsh discordant mixture of sounds
Ex. The squirrel chomped on a nut with its sharp teeth while the pigeon squawked to its friends.
Euphony: the quality of being pleasing to the ear, especially through a harmonious combination of words
Ex. Wi


A rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order, in the same or a modified form
Ex. I meant what I said and I said what I meant


A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
Ex. Don't judge a book by its cover


A word or phrase that is not formal or literary, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation. Commonly known as slang or dialect.
Ex. I'm gonna go to the movies, are y'all coming?


Connotation - the feelings or emotions associated with a word. It goes beyond the actual meaning of the word and paints a picture or invokes a feeling
Ex. "blue" evokes a sense of sadness
Denotation - the dictionary definition of the word; literal meaning


Word choice
Ex. Jargon, slang


A mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing
Ex. She is between two jobs (Which means she is unemployed)


Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally
Ex. The shipping cost me a million dollars.


A group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words
Ex. That was a piece of cake


Visually descriptive or figurative language in literature. Can be used to engage all 5 senses (touch, sound, smell, etc)
Ex. It was dark and dim in the forest


A rhetorical device, technique, or event in which something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning is expressed (Situational, Dramatic, Verbal)
Ex. Someone walks outside to a hurricane and says, "What a beautiful day! (Verbal)
A fir


The fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect
Ex. Beggars can't be choosers


A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable
Ex. The snow is a white blanket


Figure of speech that directly compares two things using like or as
Ex. He was as brave as a lion


An attribute of a thing or person is represented by another closely related to it
Ex. Referring to the king as the crown


The process of creating a word that phonetically resembles the sound it describes
Ex. "Achoo", she sneezed


A figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase.
Ex. Wise fool, original copies


A rhetorical device that is made up of two opposite things and seems impossible or untrue but it is actually possible or true
Ex. I must be cruel to be kind


Giving human traits to nonhuman objects
Ex. The trees overhead whispered as she made her way through the darkening night


Conjunctions are used repeatedly in quick succession, often with no commas. Gives text style and creates rhythm
Ex. My teacher gave me math homework and science homework and a project to complete


A joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings
Ex. Two fish are in a tank, one says to the other "how do you drive this thing?

Rhetorical question

A question asked in order to create a dramatic effect or to make a point rather than to get an answer
Ex. Does money grow on trees!?


The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language
Ex. The boy jumped happily vs the boy happily jumped


The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language
Ex. Reading ideas and writing a paper about it


One word to modify two other words, in two different ways
Ex. The storm sank my boat and my dreams