English Language Stylistic Devices

Some definitions and examples of stylistic devices such as rhetorical questions etc...

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STYLISTIC DEFINITION EXAMPLE
DEVICE
Alliteration The initial consonant sound is usually repeated For the greater good of ...
in two neighboring words.
Allusion Allusion is used to explain or clarify a complex Plan ahead. It was not raining
problem, using something the audience will be when Noah built the Ark.
familiar with.
Anaphora The same word or phrase is used to begin Every child must be taught these
successive clauses or sentences. principles. Every citizen must
uphold them. And every
immigrant, by embracing these
ideals, makes our country more,
not less, American.
Antithesis Antithesis emphasises the contrast between That's one small step for a man,
two ideas. one giant leap for mankind.
Assonance Repetition of the same vowel sound in How now brown cow.
nearby words.
Epiphora Repetition of a word or phrase at the end of What lies behind us and what lies
successive clauses or sentences. before us are tiny compared to
what lies within us.
Hyperbole Deliberate exaggeration. I was so hungry, I could eat an
elephant.
Hypophora Question raised and answered by the speaker. Why is it better to love than be
loved? It is surer.
Litotes Litotes is a form of understatement which uses Boats aren't easy to find in the
the denied opposite of a word to weaken or dark.
soften a message.
(instead of: Boats are hard to find
in the dark.)
Metaphor Metaphor compares two different things in a Truths are first clouds, then rain,
figurative sense. then harvest and food.
Metonymy A figure of speech in which one word or phrase "The B.L.T. left without paying."
is substituted for another with which it is closely (waitress referring to a customer)
associated (such as "crown" for "royalty").
Onomatopoeia The pronunciation of the word imitates a The bomb went off with a bang.
sound.
Oxymoron Adjacent words that seem to contradict one Loud silence.
another.
Paradox Seeming contradiction. Nobody goes to that restaurant,
it's too crowded.

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Parallelism Parallel sentence structure Successive clauses Tell me and I forget. Teach me
or sentences are similarly structured. This and I may remember. Involve me
similarity makes it easier for the listener to and I will learn.
concentrate.
Parenthesis Parenthesis gives additional information. The William Smith--you must know
normal progression of a sentence is interrupted him--is coming tonight.
by extra information or explanations enclosed
in commas, brackets or dashes.…read more

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