List of Really Cool Figures of Speech
  • Adianoeta: A word or phrase that has both a clear meaning and a second, more subtle meaning
    Ex. I go with your heart (I am giving you my love, or maybe I am stealing your affection, taking it away with me).
  • Adynaton: A declaration of impossibility through exaggerated comparison
    Ex. You’ve got as much chance with her as I have of becoming president.
  • Autoclesis: The introduction of a topic by refusing to talk about it
    Ex. Don’t ask me about what happened today!
  • Chiasmus: A reversal of the meaning of words in consecutive phrase
    Ex. I thought you good, originally, but your originality is not that good.

  • Dvstmesis: The insertion of one word into the middle of another word
    Ex. Fan-bloody-tastic!

  • Epanorthosis: A mid-sentence correction of what has just been said
    Ex. I have had two…no, that’s three…heart attacks.

  • Malaphor: A mixture of two idioms
    Ex. I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it (I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it//Don’t burn your bridges).
    Ex. You hit the nail right on the nose. (You hit the nail right on the head//That’s right on the nose).

  • Merism: Referencing something by listing its parts or by using multiple descriptors
    Ex. Flesh and bone (the body).
    Ex. Search every nook and cranny (look everywhere).

  • Paradiastole: The conversion of a vice into a virtue
    Ex. Yes, I know it does not work all the time, but that is what makes it interesting.

  • Paraprosdokian: The use of words at the end of a sentence that changes the apparent initial meaning
    Ex. Take my hand, I don’t want it.
    Ex. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

  • Periphrasis: Talking around a subject (circumlocution)
    Ex. When I am with you, my toes tingle and my knees are weak. The world is a better place altogether and I find myself giving my fortune to beggars, and I am a beggar before you, craving a smile, a whim (I love you).

  • Ploce: Moving between specific and general meanings of a word
    Ex. He is more English than the English.
    Ex. That is a very dog-like dog.

  • Symploce: Using the same words at the start and end of successive sentences
    Ex. If they argue, we will resist. If they fight, we will resist. If they invade, we will resist.

  • Zeugma: A figure of speech in which a word applies to two others in different senses or to two others of which it semantically suits only one
    Ex. John and his license expired last week.
    Ex. With weeping eyes and hearts.