Ap language & composition dobbs & Murphy Rhetorical and Stylistic Devices Assignment



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AP LANGUAGE & COMPOSITION


Dobbs & Murphy

Rhetorical and Stylistic Devices

Assignment: Memorize, make flash cards & find 1 example for each

Test first week of class.


Ad hominem: Latin for “against the man.” An argument that appeals to emotion rather than reason, feeling rather than intellect.
Allegory: a story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning.
Alliteration: The repetition of the same sounds – usually initial consonants of words.
Assonance: The repetition o identical or similar vowel sounds in the syllables of neighboring words.
Consonance: The repetition of identical or similar consonants in neighboring words whose vowel sounds are usually different.
Allusion: An indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work, the nature and relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader’s familiarity with what is thus mentioned.
Ambiguity: Multiple meanings either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.
Analogy: Illustration of an idea by means of a more familiar idea that is similar or parallel to it in some significant features.
Anaphora: A rhetorical figure of repetition in which the same word or phrase is repeated in (and usually at the beginning of) successive lines, clauses, or sentences.
Epistrophe: A rhetorical figure by which the same word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive sentences.
Antecedent: The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.
Anti-hero: A central character in a dramatic or narrative work who lacks the qualities of nobility and magnanimity expected of traditional heroes and heroines in romances and epics.

Aphorism: A statement of some general principle, expressed memorably by condensing much wisdom into few words.

Apology: In the literary sense, a justification or defense of the writer’s opinions or conduct, not usually implying any admission of blame (as in the everyday use).
Apostrophe: A rhetorical figure in which the speaker addresses a dead or absent person, or an abstraction or inanimate object.
Asyndeton: A form of verbal compression which consists of the omission of connecting words between clauses. The most common form is the omission of “and,” leaving on a sequence linked by commas.
Colloquialism: The use of informal expressions appropriate to everyday speech rather than to the formality of writing.
Comic Relief: The interruption of a serious work by humor.
Connotation: The range of further associations that a word or phrase suggests in addition to its straightforward dictionary meaning.
Denotation: The explicit or direct meaning or set of meanings of a word or expression, as distinguished from the ideas or meanings associated with it or suggested by it.
Diction: The choice of words used in a written work.
Didactic: A term used to describe fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.
Hyperbole: Extreme exaggeration.
Imagery: A rather vague critical term covering those uses of language in a work that evoke sense-impressions by literal or figurative reference to perceptible or “concrete” objects. (symbols)
Irony: A subtly humorous perception of inconsistency.

Verbal: A discrepancy between what is said and what is really meant.

Situational: A discrepancy between what is thought to happen and what actually does.

Dramatic: When the audience knows more about a character’s situation that the character does, foreseeing an outcome contrary to a character’s expectations.

Logic: An implied comparison resulting when one thing is directly called another. To be logically acceptable, support must be appropriate to the claim, believable and consistent.

Metaphor: A comparison between two unlike things without using the words “like” or “as.”
Metonymy: A figure of speech that replaces the name of one thing with the name of something else closely associated with it.
Narrative: The telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events.
Onomatopoeia: The use of words that seem to imitate the sounds they refer to.
Oxymoron: A figure of speech wherein the author groups apparently contradictory terms to suggest a paradox – jumbo shrimp, cruel kindness.
Parallelism: Refers to the grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs in order to give structural similarity. A famous example begins A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …”

Paradox: A seemingly contradictory statement which is actually true. This rhetorical device is often used for emphasis or simply to attract attention.


Parody: A work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule.
Pedantic: An adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic, or bookish.
Personification: A figure of speech by which inanimate objects are given humanlike characteristics.
Point of View: The perspective from which a story is told.
Polysyndeton: A rhetorical device for the repeated use of conjunctions to link a succession of words, clauses, or sentences.

*Often found in stream of consciousness.


Predicate Adjective: An adjective, group of adjectives, or adjective clause that follows a linking verb.
Predicate Nominative: A noun, group of nouns, or noun clause that renames the subject.

Pun/Double Entendre: In rhetoric, dealing with one word that suggests two different meaning. Often is used for humor.

Rhetoric: The deliberate exploitation of eloquence for the most persuasive effect in public speaking or in writing.
Rhetorical Question: A question asked for the sake of persuasive effect rather than a genuine request for information.
Satire: A mode of writing that exposes the failings of individuals, institutions, or societies to ridicule and scorn.
Simile: A comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as.”
Subordinate Clause: This word group contains both a subject and a verb plus accompanying phrases or modifiers.
Subject complement: The word or clause that follows a linking verb and completes the subject of the sentence by renaming or describing it.
Syllogism: A form of logical argument that derives a conclusion from two propositions, sharing a common term. Usually in this form: all x are y; z is x; therefore z is y.
Symbol: Anything that stands for or represents something else beyond it, usually an idea conventionally associated with it.


  • Natural Symbol: Objects and occurrences from nature to represent ideas commonly associated with them.

  • Conventional Symbol: Something that has been invested with meaning by a group (religious symbols, such as a cross or a Star of David; national symbols, such as a flag or an eagle).

Syntax: The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences.


Theme: The central idea of a work, revealed and developed in the course of a story or explored through argument.
Tone: A writer’s attitude toward his or her subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization on the sentence and global levels.

Wit: In modern usage, intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights.

Understatement: The ironic minimizing of fact. The effect can be frequently humorous and emphatic.


  • Litotes: A figure of speech by which an affirmation is made indirectly by denying its opposite, usually with an effect of understatement.

Ex: “I’m not averse to a drink.”

  • Meiosis: The Greek term for understatement or belittling; a rhetorical figure by which something that is very impressive, is represented with simplicity; i.e. When Mercutio calls his mortal wound a “scratch.”


Zeugma: One words, usually a noun or the main verb, which governs two other words not related in meaning – he maintained a business and his innocence.




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