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Rhetorical Figures

samples of various rhetorical devices


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Anesis (an-NEE-sis)
"This year's space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at 5 billion-400 million dollars a year -- a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year."
Sententia (sen-TEN-chee-uh)
"There has been this tendency to set aside some of the women, and if they were willing, either to set themselves aside in a religious service, or in some dedicated activity where they didn't act as wives and mothers. Society was willing, then, to accord them quite a few of the privileges that were accorded to men, as if it was being said, implicitly -- but of course...sometimes explicitly: 'You can't have everything.'"
"Safe sex -- now there's an oxymoron. That's like 'tactical Nuke' or 'adult male.'"
Anaphora (an-NAF-ruh)
"We are a people in a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future. We are a people in search of a national community."
Appositio (apposition)
"John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a great and good President, a friend of all people of goodwill, a believer in the dignity and equality of all human beings, a fighter for justice, an apostle of peace, has been snatched from our midst by the bullet of an assassin."
Aposiopesis (a-poe-sigh-uh-PEA-sis)
"At this juncture I want to get into -- By the way I was told to give you some advice about the media. You don't know how small I feel giving you advice, but I'll be glad to anyway since I've been asked to."
"And we read, incredible as it seems, we read of survivors struggling in the water...."
I've said throughout the campaign that there are two entities that have the most to fear from us winning this election. One is corruption and the other is incompetence. If you happen to see either of them, let them know the party is over."
"We must address ourselves to the fact that if we dare end discrimination against women, which means if we dare finally take women seriously as people...."
'I can resist everything except temptation' Oscar Wilde
Scesis Onomaton
"For whatever reasons, Ray, call it fate; call it luck; call it karma. I believe that everything happens for a reason."
Epanalepsis (eh-puh-nuh-LEAP-siss)
"A minimum wage that is not a livable wage can never be a minimum wage."
"Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Epistrophe (eh-PISS-truh-FEE)
"I said you're afraid to bleed. [As] long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people. But when it comes time to seeing your own churches being bombed and little black girls be[ing] murdered, you haven't got no blood."
"Now, in this anxious autumn from those heroic men, there comes back an answering appeal."
"I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey."
"Remember this, ladies and gentlemen. It's an old phrase, basically anonymous. Politicians are a lot like diapers: You should change them frequently and for the same reason. Keep that in mind next time you vote. Good night.
Antimetabole (an-tee-meh-TA-boe-lee)
"And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
"You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall -- you need me on that wall."
"Isn't extraordinary that the Prime Minister of our country can't even urge his Party to support his own position?! Yeah. Weak! Weak! Weak!".
and I am filled with a profound and abiding gratitude to the American people. Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being."
Rhetorical Question
"Some have asked, 'How could you have the United States Senate vote on Judge Thomas' nomination and leave Senators in the dark about Professor [Anita] Hill's charges?' And to this I answer, 'How can you expect us to have forced Professor Hill against her will into the blinding light which you see here today."
"...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
"And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side."
"Step forward, Tin Man. You dare to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk...And you, Scarecrow, have the effrontery to ask for a brain! You billowing bale of bovine fodder!"
Asyndeton (a-SIN-dih-tawn)
"When we listen to the better angels of our nature, we find that they celebrate the simple things, the basic things -- such as goodness, decency, love, kindness."
Captain Willard: "I'm a soldier." Colonel Kurtz: "You're neither. You're an errand boy...sent by grocery collect a bill."
Catachresis (cat-a-KREE-siss)
"Honey, you are a regular nuclear meltdown. You'd better cool off."
"I've had some long nights in the stir. Alone in the dark with nothing but your thoughts, time can draw out like a blade. That was the longest night of my life."
Enthymeme (EN-thuh-meme)
Dr. Eldon Tyrell: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy."
"Who's gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It's chocolate; it's peppermint; it's delicious."
Antithesis (an-TIH-theh-sis)
'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'"
Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers."-- delivered by George C. Scott (from the movie Patton)
Anadiplosis (an-uh-dih-PLO-sis)
"They call for you: The general who became a slave; the slave who became a gladiator; the gladiator who defied an Emperor. Striking story."
"Henry was 18 when we met and I was queen of France. He came down from the north to Paris with a mind like Aristotle's and a form like mortal sin. We shattered the commandments on the spot."
Polysyndeton (paulee-SIN-dih-tawn)
"Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war -- not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government -- not any other thing. We are the killers."
Euphemismos (you-feh-MISS-muss)
Will: "We're going to steal the ship? That ship? Jack: "Commandeer. We're going to commandeer that ship. Nautical term."
"What is George Bush doing about our economic problems? He has raised taxes on the people driving pickup trucks and lowered taxes on the people riding in limousines."
Synecdoche (sih-NECK-duh-kee)
"Take thy face hence."

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