A rhetorical device uses words in a certain way to convey meaning or to persuade. It can also be a technique to evoke an emotion on the part of the reader or audience.
Rhetorical Devices in Writing
Here are examples of rhetorical devices with a definition and an example:
- Alliteration - the recurrence of initial consonant sounds - rubber baby buggy bumpers
- Allusion - a reference to an event, literary work or person - I can’t do that because I am not Superman.
- Amplification - repeats a word or expression for emphasis - Love, real love, takes time.
- Analogy - compares two different things that have some similar characteristics - He is flaky as a snowstorm.
- Anaphora - repeats a word or phrase in successive phrases - "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?” (Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare)
- Antanagoge - places a criticism and compliment together to lessen the impact - The car is not pretty but it runs great.
- Antimetabole - repeats words or phrases in reverse order - “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” (J F Kennedy)
- Antiphrasis - uses a word with an opposite meaning - The Chihuahua was named Goliath.
- Antithesis - makes a connection between two things - “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong)
- Appositive - places a noun or phrase next to another noun for descriptive purposes - Mary, queen of the land, hosted the ball.
- Enumeratio - makes a point with details - Renovation included a spa, tennis court, pool and lounge.
- Epanalepsis - repeats something from the beginning of a sentence at the end - My ears heard what you said but I couldn’t believe my ears.
- Epithet - using an adjective or adjective phrase to describe - mesmerizing eyes
- Epizeuxis - repeats one word for emphasis - The amusement park was fun, fun, fun.
- Hyperbole - an exaggeration - I have done this a thousand times.
- Litotes - makes an understatement by denying the opposite of a word that may have been used - The terms of the contract are not disagreeable to me.
- Metanoia - corrects or qualifies a statement - You are the most beautiful woman in this town, nay the entire world.
- Metaphor - compares two things by stating one is the other - The eyes are the windows of the soul.
- Metonymy - a metaphor where something being compared is referred to by something closely associated with it - The knights are loyal to the crown.
- Onomatopoeia - words that imitate the sound they describe - plunk, whiz, pop
- Oxymoron - a two word paradox - near miss, seriously funny
- Parallelism - uses words or phrases with a similar structure - I went to the store, parked the car and bought a pizza.
- Simile - compares one object to another - He smokes like a chimney.
- Understatement - makes an idea less important that it really is - The hurricane disrupted traffic.
Now you see how these different examples of rhetorical devices work. You can use rhetorical devices in your own writing to create more interesting or persuasive content.