Rhet / Comp

Rhetoric and Composition

Types of Rhetorical Devices

Rhetoric is the art of persuasive spoken or written discourse that was developed in Ancient Greece. Rhetorical techniques use several methods to influence, convince, and please an audience. Here are some examples of the types of rhetorical devices that you should know.


Refers to an expansion of details do provide a clarification of a fact or point e.g. we are rich, we are brother, we own several malls


It is the repetition of words that are located at the end of clauses or phrases and at the beginning of the next e.g. I lack words, words to express how I feel.


This is the repetition of a word at the start of consecutive sentences, clause, or phrases e.g. I saw, I stood, I walked.


A rhetorical device wherein if there is a negative point in a statement, then there is also a positive point to balance it. [Read more: Antanagoge]


Bomphiologia, or verborum bombus, is the use of big words to brag about oneself in an exaggerated manner. [Read more: Bombphiologia]


Used to exaggerate things or a figure of speech that emphasizes a point e.g. I’m as hungry as a starving hyena.


Hypophora, also known as antipophora or anthypophora is a figure of speech in which the speaker or writer poses a question and immediately answers it himself or herself. [Read more: Hypophora]


The device makes an understatement by refuting the opposite of a phrase or word that should have been used e.g. the company’s terms and regulations are not disagreeable to us.


A metaphor compares two by directly stating that one is the other e.g. my riches are my wealth or your eyes are the windows of your soul.


It is an important device that qualifies or corrects a statement e.g. You are the prettiest woman in this town, not the entire world. [Read more: Metanoia]


It’s a kind of metaphor used in comparing something with another, but both are closely related e.g. the knights will forever remain loyal to the crown.


These are words in sentences that are used to imitate the sound they describe i.e. hydrogen gas burns with a pop sound.


This is simply a two-word paradox, for example, seriously stupid, near miss, really funny


Features in sentences where words used have a similar structure, for example, I went to the shop, I parked my bike, and bought a cookie.


It compares an object to another i.e. he smokes marijuana like a chimney every day.


It makes concepts less valuable than they really are, for example, the bomb destroyed my bicycle.


Used to show an abusive language or express abhorrence and hatred for a person i.e. I hate proud women. Were you born this stupid, or is scoring 30% in science is the best performance from you? [Read more: Bdelygmia]


It is a series of three parallel phrases, clauses, and statements, for example, tell me I forget, teach me I remember, involve me and I learn.


It refers to the absence of conjunctions such as I have a wife, she cannot cook, I cannot cook too, I will never cook.


Used when offering advice, for example, please live to do good because you do to others will also be done unto you.


It refers to the use of redundancy for the sole purpose of emphasizing e.g. I saw it with my own eyes, she heard it with her own ears.


This is the reversal of the correct words in a sentence with two parallel phrases, for example, I went to the city, to the village went she. [Read more: Chiasmus]


Commoratio is a simple rhetorical and writing device that harnesses the power of repetition. It involves different words and phrases used to express the same idea. [Read more: Commoratio]


It is the purposeful or conscious replication of phrases and sentences to stress a point.

Rhetorical Questions

Questions that one should not expect answers, for example, why are you so stupid?

This is a ever growing but perpetually incomplete of the various rhetorical devices. If you have any you’d like to contribute, or you have some favorite examples of the ones above, go ahead and write them in the comments below. The comments are also a good place to practice with rhetorical devices, and let others critique and review your work.

Bdelygmia | Definition and Examples

In literature, the use of bdelygmia in Rhetoric comes out as a stylistic device that authors/writers use for a variety for reasons. The term ‛bdelygmia’, meaning filth or nastiness, is greek in origins. Bdelygmia in Rhetoric means expression of vile hatred for someone, something, someplace, or some kind of action happening. Its place in literature as a stylistic device has been used since classical literature and still being practiced by modern writers.

The speaker often does this kind of expression in a flurry of explicit and even creative verbiage. It is important to distinguish between critiquing language, and the kind that can be termed as abusive hatred (bdelygmia). In the case of the latter, there is a clear break of control as the speaker launches into a fit of words expressing disgusted hate towards a person, object, or behavior.

Critiquing language usually is composed and rational, unlike the fiery fluid emotions offered by bdelygmia style of language. There are ways this stylistic device is used in rhetoric. First, it is used to evoke emotions from readers in a pathos kind of appeal – kind of like drawing in the reader to join in the emotion of hatred expressed by the speaker.

Done correctly the strong descriptive language vividly depicts the attitude of the speaker. When not used properly, and this is the second type of use of this literature device, it can antagonize the reader towards the attitudes and behavior and beliefs of the speaker. For example, a misogynistic rant of hatred against a defenseless old lady by a foul-mouthed large man will make readers sympathize with the lady, hate the man, even if the man is the hero of the story!

Writers use rhetoric in literature to advance and to set up conflicts/confrontations/discussions/and conversations between characters, all in the advancement of the story/plot. Writers combine rhetoric with bdelygmia speech to create/shape the visual image readers have of a certain kind of character. One famous example of a literary figure described in this rhetorical style is the famed mean grouch of Christmas, Mr. Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!), especially when described by others who abhor what this character does and stands for!

When bdelygmia in Rhetoric is used to express intolerant views of the speaker, it can lead to serious ramifications. This is especially true in real life politics (as it is also true in great works of literature), when political rhetoric creates condition of actual violence towards a minority group by the majority.

And since art imitates life just as life imitates art, bdelygmia rhetoric is both helpful and dangerous, depending on how it is used. As a rhetorical tool of literature, bdelygmia in Rhetoric can work for and/or against the writer depending on how its used and understood inside the context of the story.

Chiasmus | Definition and Meaning

In rhetoric, chiasmus also known as chiasm is a figure of speech wherein words, concepts or grammatical constructions are repeated in reversed order without repeating the words themselves. In this literary device, the phrases or causes present inverted parallelism which balances phrases bearing similar but not identical meanings.

It is good to avoid confusing chiasmus with antimetabole, which is a subtype of this figure which also implicates a reversal of words and phrases in successive order, but different from chiasmus in the way that it presents repeated words in A-B-B-A configuration.

Example of antimetabole with A-B-B-A structure

This medicine kill diseases because diseases kill living things.

Consider the following example of chiasmus to get differentiating features.

A mentor advises a child “Ask not what your parents should give you; ask what you should give to your parents.”

In the above chiastic statement, they’re two allowable questions; whether the child should ask what parents should give him/her, or ask what they should give to their parents.

Here are a couple more examples:

  • Run like a hare fast as dear to safe the next month exercise time.
  • The members were aware it was a scam but they accepted blindly

Effectiveness of Chiasmus

The effectiveness depends on the balanced structure of the phrases. The symmetrical structure of this figure impresses the listener or reader that the whole argument has been taken care of.

In the argument, the latter statement is considered more favorable. As a result, it gains the rhetorical efficiency via symmetrical structure making the audience’s trust that all code of belief of an argument is appraised.

Purposes of Chiasmus

This literary device has several purposes in the artwork. When used appropriately, it serves related tasks to enhance audiences’ attention.

  • To give literature work a poetic structure which is ideal for easy digestion and memorizing of the text. This ensures that audiences understand whatever writer or a speaker is talking about.
  • To establish the act and attraction readers from outer to the inner core. When a phrase or a clause consists of this rhetoric device, it produces an emphasizing effect that attracts the audience due to the poetic mood they create.
  • To safeguard the essential core of the literature concerned. With all efforts, the writer tries to attract the reader to the intended intensity of the phrase stated in the same line. This makes sure that the main work of this device is effective through the stressed motive.
  • To articulate the stability of order in the text.

In many literary works, these rhetoric figures of speech strengthen antithesis. It is good and must include a device when making a speech or writing text to make the work appear well-structured and enjoyable when reading and listening. If your hobby is reading, look for materials with this literary device and explore it for the appropriate application.

Commoratio | Definition and Examples

Commoratio comes from a Latin term used to denote the act of delaying or dwelling on a point. In modern English terms, it refers to the deliberate repetition of the same idea and is also known as synonymia or communio.

In simplest terms, it manifests as saying or writing something in multiple ways, rewording it for emphasis. Thus, it is not to be confused with two other types of repletion in rhetoric and writing— anaphora and epiphora.

Definition And Origin

Commoratio is a simple rhetorical and writing device that harnesses the power of repetition, one of the oldest tools in human communication. Unlike techniques like anaphora and epistrophe, commoratio involves different words and phrases used to express the same idea. It is also not the same as copia, which includes a search for different words, but entails the use of only one in the end.

In rhetoric, commoratio was commonly employed as a strategy for winning an argument. The logic is to revisit and emphasize the strong point, that idea on which the whole story is built on. Some scholars also associate it with goals such as swaying the opinion of the crowd. This kind of use we find in of famous novels such as Shakespeare’s “The-Merchant-of-Venice”.

And when it comes to writing, commoratio serves a somewhat similar purpose. However, instead of beating the opponent, writers can use it as a stylistic choice. It even appears in business correspondence, when one party mentions the same thing back to back. This is often an attempt to put an exclamation mark or cautiously convey emotional sentiments.

Application And Examples of Commoratio

In everyday speech, you can use commoratio to gain an upper hand and ensure your message gets picked up by the audience. The beauty of it is that you can achieve these things without being too “on the nose”.

That way, you avoid putting people off. For instance, you could use following words in your conversation to point out to the fact that someone died:

  • no more
  • ceased to be
  • meet the maker
  • late
  • rest in peace
  • bite the dust

Popular culture and literature are teeming with creative and interesting examples. One comes from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, where verses of the famous song about “Brave-Sir-Robin” end with:

  • ran away
  • fled
  • turned about
  • chickened out
  • taking to his feet
  • beat a very brave retreat

On the other hand, in Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, Douglas Adams uses commoratio to communicate to us just how big space is. In just two short sentences he writes:

  • big
  • vastly
  • hugely
  • mind-bogglingly big

The list goes on, but I think that about covers it for now.

Hypophora | Definition and Examples

In literature, speaking and writing are main activities that convey information and communications for audiences to react accordingly. There are many literary devices used to make literature work attractive and have humor to its audiences. This includes metaphors, sarcasm, irony, rhetoric questioning which give rise to rhetorical questions and hypophora among other literary devices.

Define Hypophora

Hypophora, also known as antipophora or anthypophora is a figure of speech in which the speaker or writer poses a question and immediately answers it himself or herself. It’s a rhetoric device which is slightly distinct from a rhetorical question by the structure and the implication.

Hypophora vs Rhetorical Questions

In hypophora, a question is usually posed first and its answer provided by the writer in the same paragraph immediately after the question while in a rhetorical question, the question is posted and no answer provided or expected to be provided as the speaker assumes audiences obvious to know it.

Examples of antipophora in a speech

1. In the past, there was no fire. “Did people suffer from hungry due to lack of fire? No, people had alternatives to the cooked meals this include fruits, roots, and nuts.”

2. According to the story by. “What differentiate human beings other animals? Human beings are differentiated from other animals by their ability to use senses in reasoning and decision making.”

Examples of a rhetorical question

When you’re asking for self-answer questions.

1. “In case of a car accident on which you can help, would you watch and see the victim dying?”

From above examples, you have to differentiate the two literary devices – which many people confuse – in order to use them appropriately.

Why use Hypophora in literature?

Hypophora serves many functions as briefly explained below:

• It creates curiosity among readers and listeners. A well-timed silence has a heightening effect which increases audiences’ interest in the art.

• It keeps audiences’ attention hence enjoy reading or listening literature in place.

• It’s applied in the introduction of new topics and discussions of significance which the readers were not aware of hence giving easy connectivity.

• Can raise questions which readers would like them answered, therefore, giving reader morale for more fun and information.

When this literary device is used together with others to write a book, you’ll not hesitate to buy it to enjoy well structure writer-reader interface. When giving a speech you should make use of this device to make your speech lively, draw and maintain the audience’s attention.

Antanagoge | Definition and Examples

What is an Antanagoge?

It is simply a figure in rhetoric, wherein if there is a negative point in a statement, then there is also a positive point to balance it. But sometimes, it is also used when a person is not able to reply aptly to a the points in an argument, so the person then uses a tangentially related counter-argument to oppose the other person’s accusation in either speech or writing without directly responding to the initial point(s). This “bringing up” of some other point that isn’t related to the initial point is where the modern word is derived, which in Ancient Greek meant “a leading or bringing up.”

Antanagoge Examples

There are two ways in which an antanagoge is used in speech or writing. We shall see examples for both the usages.

1) As a balancing statement

ie, “You are actually doing some good work here, but I think you should involve the other people more in what you do. You have the potential to become a highly valued member of the team.”

Here, even though the person was praised for doing good work, he’s also being told to involve others more. Positive and negative (encouragement), both in one statement.

or, “It’s a hard time for me as I’ve just lost my job, but I’m still looking forward to our vacation after all this time.”

The negative is losing the job, and the positive is that he is still looking forward to the vacation.

or, “Did you know that she lives alone? Yet she tells me that she enjoys her life to the fullest.”

While the woman living alone is a negative point, she is also enjoying her life, which is the positive point.

2) As a counter-argument

Person 1: I love cookies, they’re delicious, easy to pack and make a great snack.

Person 2: Cookies are riddled with sugar and fat and shouldn’t be eaten.

So, this is what the rhetoric device, antanagoge is and how it is used in writing and speech to better evoke a thought or to make a point.

Metanoia | Definition and Examples

Metanoia is a Greek word that means a change of mind. In this context metanoia is a rhetorical device that means retraction of a statement and then alter it to accommodate a few things forgotten to mention.

The correction of statements is done either through writing or speech. The aim of metanoia is always to strengthen, retract, weaken or amplify. In most cases people mistake metanoia for additional statements or corrections. Additional statements such as I went to school earlier that morning; however Jane decided to stay home.

In this case the use of however does not make this statement metanioa it’s just an additional statement. If a school writes a letter to a parent dismissing his son from school and later retracts the letter that does not make it metanoia either.

Metanonia Examples

  • Chelsea thinks of herself a-no I can’t say that; she is; she is an amazing person.
  • The school is nothing without the parents –or to put in a better way- Parents play a very big role in solving issues that the board cannot solve and that is why we need you.
  • Those who can’t walk or see will be favored- no scratch that- Those with a disability will be given proper attention at the new school.
  • I was conflicted – or rather should I say we Mr. Barkly and I were conflicted on what to do for the children when the rollercoaster broke down and therefore we decided to take them for camping instead.
  • It was Kenya Davis’ house – Or rather as I did not know Kenya Davis, It was a house owned by a very attractive young man.
  • To have the best barbecue ever- no, scratch that. To have the best barbecue experience you have to visit Craig’s.
  • The plan was to take on the best group in class when this large tummy-like ball –No let me correct that. The plan was to take on the best group in class when Jason threw this tummy-like ball towards us. The ball was filled with chocolate. You can guess what happened to us.
  • Kelvin is a very attractive guy at some point I thought we would get married and have kids- or at least, maybe no kids something like that. Bottom line is that I trusted him.

There are great examples of metanoia in speeches made by famous people. We use metanoia every day in conversations and writing especially when unsure of what to say in certain awkward conversations.

Bomphiologia | Definition and Examples

Bomphiologia, verborum bombus, is the use of big words to brag about oneself in an exaggerated manner. It is braggadocio at its best. The words uttered do not have to be entirely true, but they are nevertheless meant to convey self-importance and hint at uniqueness. Bragging and bombastic words and behaviors fall under this mode of rhetoric.

Bomphiologia in Rhetoric

The use of bomphiologia in rhetoric has to come along with other elements of writing or orating. There is the use of rich language full of metaphor and identifiable features using colorful language. Hence, speakers or orators using the rhetoric device must have a rich vein of vocabulary. Exaggeration and hyperbole are other techniques usually used with the rhetoric device.

Examples of Bomphiologia

Celebrities, athletes, politicians, and rappers use bomphiologia a lot in a variety mostly to establish their dominance while putting down a rival. Here are a few examples of the rhetoric art of bragging in style used by two famous people: Muhammad Ali the boxer and Kanye West, the rapper.

Muhammad Ali (American professional boxer)

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

–Mohammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was bragging about his boxing style. He was a big man in the ring, 6’3” but his movement was fast and mesmerizing (like a butterfly). His punches were quick and sharp. One moment he would be backpedaling away from opponents, and in an instant, he would deliver a surprise package of punches to opponents.

Boxers and martial artists such as Floyd Mayweather Jnr., Anthony Joshua, and Connor Mcgregor usually use bomphiologia to intimidate opponents.

There are several quotes by Muhammad Ali that use bomphiologia. He once said that he “arrested lightning” and “jailed thunder”. These are physically impossible feats

In these cases, Muhammad Ali was bragging about his strength and power. To top it off, Muhammad Ali was a great boxer. One can only imagine how people felt when he said these words confidently. Probably, fans felt elated; neutrals admired his confidence and opponents felt challenged to respond likewise with bomphiologia.

Kanye West (American rapper)

In the modern age, Kanye West uses bomphiologia a lot. He often tweets about how he is a genius. For example in his 2012 song “Clique” he raps:

“Break records at Louis, ate breakfast at Gucci, my girl a superstar all from a home movie.”

— Kanya West

Louis and Gucci are expensive brands when Kanye mentions them he is bragging about the fact that he is rich. The girl he is talking about is Kim Kardashian, a massive source of pride for him.

Using Bomphiologia The Right Way

In the examples given, both Kanye West and Muhammad Ali brag, but some of it is true.

For bomphiologia to work, there must be at least some element of truth or an allusion. Bomphiologia is not words carelessly strewn together, but the word choice must be meticulous, controversial and most importantly a little bit factual or alluding to some undeniable truth.

Types of Irony Part 1: Verbal Irony

Irony is a widely used and often misunderstood rhetorical device. Due to the depth of information, as well as its tendency to be misused, I’ve broken the subject down into a multi-part explainer.

First, let’s start with the irony definition. After a quick search of The Web, I found a good definition at typesofirony.com.

Irony is a figure of speech which is a contradiction or incongruity between what is expected and what actually occurs.

While this is a reasonable definition, it should be noted that it is imprecise, and no specific definition of irony is completely agreed upon throughout the literary community.

Verbal Irony

There are actually 3 types of irony, and the first we’re going to talk about in our series is verbal irony.

As you might expect, verbal irony is that which is spoken. It’s usually an intentional effect of the speaker to say the opposite of what is obvious, and vocal inflection is very useful for this type of irony.

sensible chuckle magazineAn example might be, on a 90° degree summer day, a corny dad might say “Brr, sure is chilly today!” Clearly it’s not chilly, but the intended effect is to make a verbally ironic joke. These types of jokes generally illicic a sensible chuckle. They are also a great way to embarrass your teenage children.

Sub-Type: Sarcasm

A sub-class of verbal irony is sarcasm. Not all verbal irony is sarcasm, just like not all sarcasm is ironic, however there’s a lot of overlap.

An example of verbally ironic sarcasm might be something like: After seeing a terrible movie you might say, “I’d sure love to see that one again.” Vocal inflection is particularly important in the case of sarcasm lest someone believe you’re speaking in earnest. You definitely don’t want to get stuck seeing Kangaroo Jack a second time.

Another very common example of verbally ironic sarcasm is when people say “Yeah, right!” when they actually mean “No.” You can see that both “yeah” and “right” are affirmative words, but with the right sarcastic inflection, they become a negative.

That concludes Part 1 of my series on Irony. I hope you’ve learned a little something.