Overall, figures of speech function as literary devices because of their expressive use of language. A figure of speech relies on such figurative language and rhetoric. My grandchildren are the flowers of my garden. In serious poetry and prose, however, their use is more fully conscious, more artistic, and much more subtle; it thus has a stronger intellectual and emotional impact, is more memorable, and sometimes contributes a range and depth of association and suggestion far beyond the scope of the casual colloquial use of imagery. In other words, the typical definition or popularly assumed meaning or structure of the word or phrase does not apply. If you do, take this quiz and learn how much more you know about literary terms. The hurricane brought a couple of rain showers with it. Last night, Joe’s grandfather passed away (died). Almost all the figures of speech that appear in everyday speech may also be found in literature. - Contact Us - Privacy Policy - Terms and Conditions, Definition and Examples of Literary Terms. Many figures of speech invoke humor or provide a sense of irony in ways that literal expressions do not. This can create a greater sense of engagement for the reader when it comes to a literary work. Imagery Imagery is a figure of speech, which employs words to create mental images in the mind of the reader. It is a phrase made up of two or more words which can add effect to the meaning of something and is used in a … In oral communication, figures of speech can clarify, enhance description, and create interesting use of language. Arabic literature is rich in simile and metaphor, but the constructions used are so different from those familiar in the West that translation requires much adaptation. Greeting-card rhymes, advertising slogans, newspaper headlines, the captions of cartoons, and the mottoes of families and institutions often use figures of speech, generally for humorous, mnemonic, or eye-catching purposes. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/art/figure-of-speech, figure of speech - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). A figure of speech is a rhetorical device that achieves a special effect by using words in distinctive ways. The device is used in writing of all types, from speeches and songs to novels and plays. Figures of Speech. Copyright © 2021 Literary Devices. Figures of speech are departures from the direct way of speaking or writing, intended to explain, emphasize, elucidate or embellish what is being said. Here are some common examples of conversational figures of speech: Hyperbole is a figure of speech that utilizes extreme exaggeration to emphasize a certain quality or feature. The argots of sports, jazz, business, politics, or any specialized groups abound in figurative language. A pun is a figure of speech that contains a “play” on words, such as using words that mean one thing to mean something else or words that sound alike in as a means of changing meaning. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. This effect may be rhetorical as in the deliberate arrangement of words to achieve something poetic, or imagery as in the use of language to suggest a … If a writer tried the hyperbole “I could eat a barn made of licorice,” the figurative language is ineffective and the meaning would be lost for most readers. Personified in this way, the meaning of time in the novel is enhanced to the point that it is a character in and of itself. Though there are hundreds of figures of speech, below are 20 of the most common figures. Updates? They carry connotative or deeper meanings. Climax has the effect of building excitement and anticipation. In European languages, figures of speech are generally classified in five major categories: (1) figures of resemblance or relationship (e.g., simile, metaphor, kenning, conceit, parallelism, personification, metonymy, synecdoche, and euphemism); (2) figures of emphasis or understatement (e.g., hyperbole, litotes, rhetorical question, antithesis, climax, bathos, paradox, oxymoron, and irony); (3) figures of sound (e.g., alliteration, repetition, anaphora, and onomatopoeia); (4) verbal games and gymnastics (e.g., pun and anagram); and (5) errors (e.g., malapropism, periphrasis, and spoonerism). Figures involving a change in sense, such as metaphor, simile, and irony, are called tropes. The term figure of speech covers a wide range of literary devices, techniques, and other forms of figurative language, a few of which include: Many people use figures of speech in conversation as a way of clarifying or emphasizing what they mean. Sue won the lottery, so she’s a bit excited. Most figures in everyday speech are formed by extending the vocabulary of what is already familiar and better known to what is less well known. This is an example of rhetorical effect in that the wording carefully achieves the idea of two things meant to connect to each other. A figure of speech is a word or phrase that possesses a separate meaning from its literal definition. The effect is further reflection…. This downplaying of reaction is a surprise for the reader and generally has the effect of showing irony. A Broader Definition of Figure of Speech 3. Time is personified as an entity that “stumbled” and “had accidents.” This is an effective use of figurative language in that this personification of time indicates a level of human frailty that is rarely associated with something so measured. Writers can often share a difficult truth or convey a particular concept through figurative language so that the reader has a greater understanding of the material and one that lasts in memory. They are chiefly used in poetry for the sake of vividness. 2. Other common forms of figurative speech are hyperbole (deliberate exaggeration for the sake of effect), as in “I’m so mad I could chew nails”; the rhetorical question (asked for effect, with no answer expected), as in “How can I express my thanks to you?”; litotes (an emphasis by negation), as in “It’s no fun to be sick”; and onomatopoeia (imitation of natural sounds by words), in such words as “crunch,” “gurgle,” “plunk,” and “splash.”. Here’s a quick and simple definition:Some additional key details about climax: 1. A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is not intended to be interpreted literally. A figure of speech is often used to portray an idea more clearly or more interestingly. It can be a metaphor or simile, designed to make a comparison. 2. 4. Fitzgerald makes use of simile here as a figure of speech to compare Gatsby’s party guests to moths. For example: Cock-a-doodle-do, quack, moo, etc. A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used in a non-literal way to create an effect. Figures of Speech. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. This effect may be rhetorical as in the deliberate arrangement of words to achieve something poetic, or imagery as in the use of language to suggest a visual picture or make an idea more vivid. The simile in the first two lines sets forth a comparison between the way “you” fits into the poet like a hook and eye closure for perhaps a garment. As a literary device, figures of speech enhance the meaning of written and spoken words. For example, the hyperbole “I could eat a horse” is effective in showing great hunger by using figurative language. It’s important that writers construct effective figures of speech so that the meaning is not lost for the reader. A figure of speech that resembles the metaphor is the simile. word or phrase using figurative language—language that has other meaning than its normal definition A figure of speech relies on such. Ryken explains that “poetry is heightened speech, far more compressed than prose. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are rich in simile, metaphor, and personification and in the special figure of Hebrew poetry, parallelism. Figures Speech. This is an effective literary device for this novel because, in the story, books are considered weapons of free thought and possession of them is illegal. I need to powder my nose (go to the bathroom). In this passage, Garcia Marquez utilizes personification as a figure of speech. Our company has decided to let you go (fire you). For example, Margaret Atwood utilizes figures of speech in her poem “you fit into me” as a means of achieving poetic meaning and creating a vivid picture for the reader. Therefore, figures of speech are words or phrases used in a figurative sense for rhetorical or vivid effect. Understatement is a figure of speech that invokes less emotion than would be expected in reaction to something. It’s helpful, though, to avoid certain clichéd figures of speech. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Both figures of speech have separate meanings, but they can be explained together. Euphemism is a figure of speech that refers to figurative language designed to replace words or phrases that would otherwise be considered harsh, impolite, or unpleasant. A figure of speech is something which is used to convey a more deep or intense meaning. This simile, as a figure of speech, underscores the themes of superficiality and transience in the novel. While asyndeton refers to the absence of conjunctions and the constant presence of commas in their place, polysyndeton is a figure of speech characterised by using more conjunctions than necessary to give the sentence a slower pace and make it more dramatic. Japanese poetry is based on delicate structures of implication and an entire vocabulary of aesthetic values almost untranslatable to the West. A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetorical effect. You will probably remember many of these terms from your English classes. Works of literature feature innumerable figures of speech that are used as literary devices. Personification is a figure of speech that attributes human characteristics to something that is not human. In the second two lines, the wording is clarified by adding “fish” to “hook” and “open” to “eye,” which calls forth an unpleasant and even violent image. Thus metaphors (implied resemblances) derived from human physiology are commonly extended to nature or inanimate objects as in the expressions “the mouth of a river,” “the snout of a glacier,” “the bowels of the earth,” or “the eye of a needle.” Conversely, resemblances to natural phenomena are frequently applied to other areas, as in the expressions “a wave of enthusiasm,” “a ripple of excitement,” or “a storm of abuse.” Use of simile (a comparison, usually indicated by “like” or “as”) is exemplified in “We were packed in the room like sardines.” Personification (speaking of an abstract quality or inanimate object as if it were a person) is exemplified in “Money talks”; metonymy (using the name of one thing for another closely related to it), in “How would the Pentagon react?”; synecdoche (use of a part to imply the whole), in expressions such as “brass” for high-ranking military officers or “hard hats” for construction workers. In writing, when figures of speech are used effectively, these devices enhance the writer’s ability for description and expression so that readers have a better understanding of what is being conveyed. Joe got his dream job, so that’s not too bad. But what is a figure of speech? It uses words to convey a figurative instead of a literal meaning. A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? A figure of speech is a rhetorical device that achieves a special effect by using words in a distinctive way. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. 'Get up with the lark' is a figure of speech, meaning 'Get out of bed early'. The poet’s descriptions of hooks and eyes are not meant literally in the poem. Common Figures of Speech. And it uses the words “like” or “as” in showing how one thing is similar to another. We use them all the time without realizing it. Figures of speech are formed by a set of words that come together causing alterations in the traditional syntax so to emphasise, exalt feelings or provoke an idea. What are the figures of speech? Omissions? 3. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Figures of speech are literary devices intended to make language more interesting, intense or colorful. These figures of speech add meaning to literature and showcase the power and beauty of figurative language. All Rights Reserved. Though there are hundreds of figures of speech, here we'll focus on 20 top examples. Corrections? Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. In other words, simple rearrangement or juxtaposition of words is not effective in the way that deliberate wording and phrasing are. It is used to replicate sounds created by objects, actions, animals and people. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Figures of speech are used in everything from descriptions (of people, settings, events, etc) to comparisons to explanations. …treated metaphor, perhaps the major figure of speech, in a way that was to plague rhetoricians and poets for centuries. Figure of speech definition: Figure of speech is the use of language to add richness to the literal meaning of words. How to Use Figures of Speech. They are also used in prose especially in public speeches to … One of the most powerful single literary influences upon world cultures has been the Bible. Here’s a quick and simple definition:Some additional key details about figures of speech: 1. Figures of speech are traditionally classified into schemes, which vary the ordinary sequence or pattern of words, and tropes, where words are made to carry a meaning other than what they ordinarily signify. 5. In addition, this is effective in the novel as a figure of speech because time has a great deal of influence on the plot and characters of the story. The imagery used by Fitzgerald is one of delicacy and beauty, and creates an ephemeral atmosphere. Let us take for example the phrase”fast like lightning”. Fish are smart because they travel in schools. What I’ve learned is that I know nothing. It was just a figure of speech. Words are used in other ways than their literal meanings or typical manner of application. Figure of speech, any intentional deviation from literal statement or common usage that emphasizes, clarifies, or embellishes both written and spoken language. A type of scheme is polysyndeton, the repeating of a conjunction before every element in a list, where normally the conjunction would appear only before th… Being able to create poetic meaning, comparisons, and expressions with these literary devices is how writers form art with words. A paradox is a figure of speech that appears to be self-contradictory but actually reveals something truthful. A: It was a figure of speech, sir. Figure of speech, any intentional deviation from literal statement or common usage that emphasizes, clarifies, or embellishes both written and spoken language. To be able to use them well is an art, which can be mastered over time. Definition of Figure of Speech A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used in a non-literal way to create an effect. When using figures of speech the words will diverge from their literal meanings, to give a more stylized and specialized meaning to these words. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). It can be the repetition of alliteration or the exaggeration of hyperbole to provide a dramatic effect. any expressive use of language, as a metaphor, simile, personification, or antithesis, in which words are used in other than their literal sense, or in other than their ordinary locutions, in order to suggest a picture or image or … The most common types of figures of speech are metaphors, similes, idioms, personification, hyperbole, and euphemisms. In this passage, Bradbury utilizes metaphor as a figure of speech to compare a book to a loaded gun. Basically, it is a figurative language that may consist of a single word or phrase. In particularly, metaphors and proverbs are extremely common in everyday language. I heard she has cancer, but it’s not a big deal. This figure of speech is partly pleasure and partly business. In a culture not influenced by classical Greece and Rome, some figures may be absent; irony is likely to be confined to fairly sophisticated cultures. Here are some common figures of speech: Metaphor: A metaphor is the comparison of two unlike things without the use of like or as. A figure of speech is an expression whose words are not used in their literal sense. Here are some examples of figures of speech in well-known literary works: In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. This second section on Figures of Speech are departure from the ordinary form of expression, or the ordinary course of ideas in order to produce a greater effect. It may be a simile, a metaphor or personification to convey the meaning other than the literal meaning. Young adults are curious about the birds and bees (sex). Of course I'm not. Forming an integral part of language, figures of speech are found in oral literatures as well as in polished poetry and prose and in everyday speech. In rhetoric, a figure of speech is a type of figurative language (such as metaphor, irony, understatement, or anaphora) that departs from conventional word order or meaning. Here are some ways that writers benefit from incorporating figures of speech into their work: Effective use of figures of speech is one of the greatest demonstrations of artistic use of language. What is a Figure of Speech?A “figure of speech” is figurative language. There are a wide range of figures of speech … 42+2 sentence examples: 1. noun, plural figures of speech.Rhetoric. Here are some common examples of figures of speech used in writing: Simile is a figure of speech in which two dissimilar things are compared to each other using the terms “like” or “as.”, A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two different things without the use of the terms “like” or “as.”. This metaphor is particularly powerful because the comparison is so unlikely; books are generally not considered to be dangerous weapons. Figures of speech provoke a thought process and bring depth to the language. Figures of Speech in Psalms. Definition of figure of speech : a form of expression (such as a simile or metaphor) used to convey meaning or heighten effect often by comparing or identifying one thing with another that has a meaning or connotation familiar to the reader or listener First Known Use … It can be a metaphor or simile that is designed to further explain a concept. Whereas a metaphor is an implied resemblance, a simile is a stated resemblance—in other words, a similarity. What is a figure of speech? However, the comparison does have a level of logic in the context of the story in which the pursuit of knowledge is weaponized and criminalized. By using effective figures of speech to enhance description and meaning, writers make their works more memorable for readers as an experience. Writers also use figures of speech in their work as a means of description or developing meaning. A figure of speech is a deviation from the ordinary use of words in order to increase their effectiveness. He describes it not as an instrument of thought but as an ornamentation, an adornment that at best serves the functions of clarity and vividness. Yet the use of figurative language allows the poet to express two very different meanings and images that enhance the interpretation of the poem through contrast. The more you read, the more you will be able to understand. The term \"climax\" also has another meaning: climax, the figure of speech, is different from climax, the moment in a plot when the central conflict of the story reaches peak intensity. / ˌfɪɡ.jʊr əv ˈspiːtʃ / plural figures of speech an expression that uses words to mean something different from their ordinary meaning: "Break a leg " is a figure of speech, meaning "good luck ". What is a climax? Effective figures of speech often elevate the entertainment value of a literary work for the reader. it is easier to understand than an idiom as you do not have to be familiar with the language in order to decipher it Of course, Bradbury is only stating that a book is a loaded gun as a means of figurative, not literal meaning. And Forming an integral part of language, figures of speech are found in oral literatures as well as in polished poetry and prose and in everyday speech. However, the likening of Gatsby’s guests to moths also reinforces the idea that they are only attracted to the sensation of the parties and that they will depart without having made any true impact or connection. PUN: A Pun consists in the use of a word in such a way that it is capable of more than one application, the object being to introduce a ludicrous effect. Whereas expository prose uses the sentence or paragraph as its basic unit, and narrative the episode or scene, the basic unit of poetry is the individual image or figure of speech.” Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Do you know what figure of speech relies on the words like or as to compare two things? A common figure of speech often uses an inanimate object. All languages use figures of speech, but differences of language dictate different stylistic criteria. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that connects two opposing ideas, usually in two-word phrases, to create a contradictory effect. A figure of speech creates a figurative rather than a literal meaning for a word or phrase via adding, deleting, or changing words and ideas in a phrase. You'll probably remember many of these terms from your English classes. 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