Guide to Literary Terms

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Figure of Speech

Figure of speech (also called trope) - the expressive use of language in which words are used in other ways than their literal senses so as to suggest and produce pictures or images in a reader or hearer’s mind, bypassing logic and appealing directly to the imagination in order to give particular emphasis to an idea or sentiment. There are three classes:

1. imagined similarities such as allegory, allusion, conceit, and simile 2. suggestive associations in which one work is linked with another such as hypallage, hyperbole, metonymy, and synecdoche 3. appeals to the ear and eye such as alliteration, anacoluthon, and onomatopoeia

Figures of speech may also be grouped into figures of thought in which words retain their meaning but not their rhetorical patterns.

Examples are given under each of the following listings.

see: analogy, allegory, alliteration, allusion, conceit, irony, metaphor, onomatopoeia, simile