Different Types of Figure of Speech

The figure of Speech is where a word or words are used to create an effect, often where they do not have their original or literal meaning. If someone says that they are ‘starving,’ they do not mean that they are in fact dying of hunger, but that they are starved.

is the repetition of the last word of a preceding clause. The word is used at the end of a sentence and then used again at the beginning of the next sentence. “The frog was a prince / The prince was a brick / The brick was an egg The egg was a bird”

is the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed grammatical order. It is similar to chiasmus although chiasmus does not use repetition of the same words or phrases.

Aphorismis an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic (concise) and memorable form. Aphorism literally means a “distinction” or “definition”.

Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar  vowel sounds close together to create an effect similar to rhyming inside a line of poetry or in prose.

Chiasmus is a figure of speech in which two clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures to make a larger point, though the reversal does not have to feature the same words as in antimetabole, which could be considered to be a type of chiasmus.

Epanadiplosis is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning and end of a phrase, clause or sentence.

Epanalepsis is the repetition of a word or phrase, but in no particular position as long as there are words between the repetitions.

Epistrophe is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of different phrases, clauses or sentences:

Epizeuxis is the repetition of words or phrases next to each other.

Hyperbole is an overstatement or exaggerated language that distorts facts by making them much bigger than they are if looked at objectively.

An irony is common in English, especially in humor. When the speaker or writer says one thing but wants you to understand something different, they are ironic.

Litotes is a kind of an understatement, where the speaker or writer uses a negative of a word ironically, to mean the opposite.


Meiosis is another term for understatement, where someone represents something as less than it is for a rhetorical effect, often used ironically.

Metaphor is a word or phrase that describes one thing being used to describe another; on a simple level a phrase such as ‘the heart of the matter’ is a metaphor as matters do not actually have hearts. Metaphorical phrases are widely used in English.

Oxymoron combines two terms that are normally contradictory.

Pleonasm is the use of an excessive number of words to say something, including unnecessary repetition, especially when this is done through ignorance rather than for effect.

Polyptoton is when words are repeated that are not identical but are derived from the same root.

Redundancy is the use of unnecessary words or phrases that express something already said in the utterance or sentence

Sarcasm is a form of irony that is widely used in English especially when people are being humorous.

A simile is a comparison between two different things, designed to create an unusual, interesting, emotional or another effect often using words such as ‘like‘ or ‘asas‘.


Spoonerisms originates from the Reverend Spooner, who is well known in England because of a speech problem he is supposed to have had; it is said that he used to mix up the first couple of letters of words, sometimes creating strange sentences. One of the most famous spoonerisms attributed to him is when he told a student off because he had ‘hissed the mystery lectures’ when he meant to say ‘missed the history lectures’.

Tautology is where two near-synonyms are placed consecutively or very close together for effect.

is used to make something appear smaller or less important than it really is.


Where a word is used to link two words or phrases, this is zeugma.The term is also used where the link between the words is unusual or mixed, also know as syllepsis.

Tags : EnglishLiterature
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