Stylistic Devices Dictionary

  • Alliteration
  • is a phonetic stylistic device which aims at imparting a melodic effect to the utterance. The essence of this device lies in the repetition of similar sounds, in particular consonant sounds, in close succession, particularly at the beginning of successive words.
  • Anastrophe
  • - is a figure of speech involving an inversion of the natural order of words; for example, saying "echoed the hills" to mean "the hills echoed".
  • Antithesis
  • is a stylistic device based on the author's desire to stress certain qualities of the thing by appointing it to another thing possessing antagonistic features.
  • Antonomasia
  • . It is the result of interaction between logical and nominal meaning of a word.
  • Aposiopesis
  •  (Break - in - the narrative). Sudden break in the narration has the function to reveal agitated state of the speaker.
  • Asyndeton
  • is a deliberate avoidance of conjunctions in constructions in which they would normally used.
  • Catachresis
  • - is the (usually intentional) use of any figure of speech that flagrantly violates the norms of a language community. 
  • Chiasums
  • is based on repetition of syntactical patterns, but it has a reversed order in one of the utterances.
  • Climax
  • (gradation) - an ascending series of words or utterances in which intensity or significance increases step by step.

Stylistic and rhetorical devices

- A comparison between two things which basically are quite unlike each other
- The metaphor says that something is something else
- A metaphor never uses the words "as" or "like" to make the comparison
- E.g.: A mighty fortress is our God.
He has a heart of stone.
 - Usage: Shakespeare writes metaphorically when he says...

- Another type of comparison
- The simile says that something is like something else and uses the words "as" or "like"
- E.g.: He is as strong as a lion.
She smells like a rose.
- Usage: His style is rich in simile.
He uses interesting similes.

More info about  English-Russian Similies
  • Symbol (C)

- A word or phrase that stands not only for itself but also for a certain idea.
- As in the case of the metaphor and the simile the meaning goes beyond the literal
- E.g.: Red is a symbol of danger.

  • Synecdoche ( U or C)

- A figure of speech using one part for the whole or something special for something general
- E.g.: saying "ten sail" for ten ships or "Croesus" for a rich man
Another example:
Shakespeare repeatedly made use of is using the word "board" to imply a stage
- Another expression for synecdoche : pars pro toto

  • Onomatopoeia (U)

- The formation of words from sounds which seem to suggest their meaning
- E.g.: pocketa, pocketa ; bang ; hiss ; buzz
- Usage: An example of onomatopoeia can be found in line 35: ...

- Two contradictory words or phrases are combined
- E.g.: fiery ice, screaming silence ; foul is fair ; very tragical mirth
- Usage: Shakespeare makes use of several oxymorons in this extract

  • Plurisignation (U)

- Use of ambiguities (words or expressions with more than one meaning)
- Usage: The following statement is plurisignificant : ...

  • Euphemism (U or C)

- Use of a mild word for one thought to be rough or offensive
- E.g.: "pass away" for die
- Usage: He writes euphemistically when he describes his mother′s death

  • Redundancy (C)

- Writing (talking) more than the required minimum, repetitive.
- E.g.: Full of vexation come I, with complaint against my child, my daughter Hermia
- Usage: The following paragraph is full of redundancies.
His speech is full of redundant words.

  • Pleonasm (C)

- Use of more words than necessary.
- E.g.: 4 quarters, two twins
- Usage: Pleonasms should be avoided.

  • Litotes (C - plural same form)

- An ironically moderate speech, rhetorical under-statement
- E.g.: That′s not half bad.
He′s no amateur.
- Usage: He is a master of litotes.

- Exaggeration for the purpose of emphasis.
- E.g.: I′ve waited an eternity.
He had a hangover that made his head feel like the spot on the fortress that′s just been hit by a thirty-foot battering ram.
- Usage: Shakespeare loves to employ hyperbole.

  • Enjambment (U or C)

- The continuation of the sentence into the next line.
- Effect: It makes the speech sound more natural
- E.g.: But see! The angry victor hath recalled
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
Back to the gates of Heaven.

  • Chiasmus (C pl. -mi)

- Contrasted terms are arranged crosswise, the word order in the first phrase is reversed in the second.
- E.g.: Flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike
Fair is foul, and foul is fair
Weigh oath with oath and you will nothing weigh

  • Anacoluthon (C pl. -a)

- A broken sentence construction, lacking a grammatical sequence
- In so far the anacoluthon is unintentionally used by the speaker • unwillingly
- Usage: The anacolutha in the following lines are supposed to emphasize Richard′s mental confusion.

  • Ellipsis (C pl. -es)

- An incomplete sentence construction.
- The ellipsis is used deliberately by its speaker (e.g. for emphasis) • willingly

  • Anaphora (U)

- The repetition of a word or a phrase at the beginning of two or more successive lines, sentences etc.
- E.g.: And she forgot the stars, the moon, the sun
And she forgot the blue above the trees (...)

  • Epiphora (U)

- The repetition of a word or a phrase at the end of two or more successive lines, sentences etc.
- E.g.: We are born to sorrow, pass our time in sorrow, end our days in sorrow.

- Words or phrases presented in series, separated by commas only, without conjunctions
- E.g.: Veni, vidi, vici.
He has provided the poor with jobs, food, money.

  • Polysyndeton (C pl. -a)

- Words or phrases presented in series separated by "end", "as well as", etc.
- E.g.: und es wallet und siedet und brauset und zischt.

  • Exclamation (C)

- E.g. : What a strange idea !

  • Address (C)

- But always - do not forget this, Winston - always there will be the thrill of victory ...

  • Request (C)

- Polite or formal appeal
- E.g.: Why don′t we all go to...?

  • Urgent appeal (C)

- It′s stronger form of request
- E.g.: For heaven′s sake, come and help me now!

  • Climax (C pl. -es)

 - A figure consisting of a series of of related ideas so arranged that each is stronger than the proceeding one
- E.g.: Berlin-, Deutschland-, Weltnachrichten

  • Personification (U)

 - A figure of speech in which a lifeless object is spoken of as if alive
- E.g.: My blood speaks in your veins.
 And when she weeps, weeps every little flower.
- Usage: In "Romeo and Juliet" the personification of the stars is unforgettable .
In this poem of Keats′ autumn is personified.

  • Gemination (U)

- The immediate repetition of a word or phrase for rhetorical effect
- E.g.: And when she weeps, weeps every little flower.
- Usage: Shakespeare often employs gemination as a means of realizing his iambic pentameter.

  • Allusion (C)

- An allusion is a reference to another author or historical figure or event.
- E.g.: Oberon′s: "A fair vestal throned by the west" doubtlessly alluded to Queen Elizabeth I, who watched the play herself

  • Pun (C)

- With puns Shakespeare shows his exceptional wit
- Puns work through ambiguities, often caused by homophones (i.e. words that sound the same)
- E.g.: There is mettle in death. (mettle = courage; at the same the word suggests the homophone metal, a synecdoche for sword, a weapon causing death)
- Very often Shakespeare makes use of sexual puns (also called innuendoes)
- Here textual notes are often not very helpful...
- E.g.: My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones. (the character is referring to the stones in a wall, but to the Elizabethans "stones" were also testicles ...)

  • Parallelism (C)

- Any parallel structure
- E.g.: To watch the night in storms, the day in cold.

  • Alliteration

- Repetition of the inititial consonant sound

  • Assonance

- Repetition of vowel sounds

  • Consonance

- Similarity of end consonants
Their common aims:
 Increase pleasure in hearing and catch the listener′s attention

  • Masculine rhyme

- One-syllable rhyme

  • Feminine rhyme

- Two-(or more) syllable rhyme

  • Off-rhyme

- Rhyme is not quite exact ,but listener still feels it

  • Internal rhyme

- Rhyme within one line

  • Volta

- Change in argumentation
- It always follows after the 8 line of a sonnet

  • Final complet

- These are the two final lines of a sonnet
- They always contain a message
- It always lays a certain stress on it

  • Meter

- The length of a line of verse, measured by counting the stresses, is called the metre

  • Pentameter

- When there are five stresses the line is called a pentameter

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