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3
votes
2answers
28 views

What figure(s) of speech or expression are in play here?

I recently heard a somewhat poetic song lyric that I couldn't pin down. The writer says of a failed relationship: We broke a diamond with our bitter words. I get diamond as a metonym for ...
38
votes
9answers
5k views

“Childlessness is hereditary in our family” What do you call a statement containing a contradiction such as the example?

This kind of sentence is usually absurd and may or may not be recognized as such by the person who utters it. She will regret it till the day she dies, if she lives that long! "Aren't you going to ...
2
votes
3answers
70 views

“Freedom is slavery” and “Ignorance is strength” - What kind of rhetorical strategy is this?

What kind of rhetorical strategy (or fallacy?) is it when someone uses words with opposite meanings and combines them in what seems to be a contradiction? In George Orwell’s 1984 we can find: ...
1
vote
2answers
60 views

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Is there a term for a word like Democratic in Democratic People's Republic of Korea? The key point here is that the word is being used precisely because it's false. It has something in common with a ...
1
vote
1answer
151 views

“The only witness is a prostitute!” What do you call this type of rhetoric in English? [closed]

The defense attorney: “…and finally, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client can never be considered legally guilty unless the prosecutor can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And, ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What kind of rhetorical strategy is it when someone points out a potential sticking point in his proposition before anyone can criticize it?

e.g. "I know some of you might consider this question general reference, but think of all those people who will be reading it all over the world and how it will enrich our data bank." "Of course we ...
1
vote
1answer
32 views

What figures of speech are common in “roasts”? [closed]

When a celebrity or personality is "roasted", lots of bad things are said about and to the (un)fortunate guest; at the end usually there is a change in mood and the person is acknowledged by the ...
0
votes
2answers
87 views

What is the term to describe the use of “City Hall” in “you can't fight City Hall”?

I know there's a word to describe the use of the words "City Hall" in the common phrase "you can't fight City Hall", where "City Hall" = "the office of the mayor of the city", but I can't remember ...
1
vote
9answers
835 views

Is there a metaphorical word or phrase for a potential trouble maker?

More specifically, someone who might open "undesirable doors" and fill you with profound regret for letting him/her into your life. The idiom I'm trying to find would be used in the following ...
0
votes
1answer
92 views

What figure of speech is it when we say “This meat is swimming in fat.”?

What figure of speech is it when we say: "The meat is swimming in gravy. I'll have fish instead." "Her eyes were swimming with tears." "They say he's swimming in money."
16
votes
3answers
499 views

What is the origin of “in a jiffy”?

What is the origin of "in a jiffy"? Etymology online Dictionary says origin unknown but speculates that it was slang (cant) for lightning and dates it as 1785. Wikipedia agrees but adds that the ...
4
votes
5answers
140 views

“Not as heavy as an elephant.” Which literary device is this?

I was having a conversation with a friend today. He jokingly asked me to help him pick up a desktop printer later (he's obviously strong enough to carry one on his own - a typical desktop printer is ...
0
votes
4answers
179 views

How does “not least” mean “in particular; notably”?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning? not least = In particular; notably I couldn't find the etymology for this ??adverbial phrase?? I ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

What kind of figurative language is this phrase?

What figurative language is this phrase? Is it an idiom or personification? Or something else? I have tried to figure it out but I can't. "to drive the idea out of my mind"
3
votes
2answers
263 views

Are “I scream” and “Ice cream” homophones, or do we have another term here?

When two phrases are pronounced alike but have different spelling and meaning, can they be called homophones? e.g. "ice-cream" and "I scream", "nitrate" and "night rate", "that's tough" and "that ...
0
votes
2answers
42 views

contempt formula when talking about something [closed]

What is the figure of speech that should be used to express contempt of something? I tried this expression and I don't know if it is suitable for that context: Main phrase: You had proposed ...
-1
votes
1answer
125 views

Using the word “So” too much that it is annoying [closed]

So, ...........I'm tired of using the word "so" and I'm tired of hearing everyone using it also! What are alternatives and how long will it be before I can make myself stop using it?
0
votes
2answers
371 views

What does 'fooling around' mean to a 1st Grader?

In English, when I say don't fool around with that, am I saying You are stupid! I mean, my son came back from school today with a note from the teacher: Dear Dad, I was fooling around with a ...
1
vote
2answers
333 views

What is unfreeze your hearts?

Stephen Colbert was taking about the CIA Interrogation Report when he said, "unfreeze your heart!" @6:12 in the video. What does that mean? How can I use that term? Does it mean, 'forget about it"?
4
votes
2answers
239 views

Can a single metaphor be 'mixed'?

M-W has the following definition for mixed metaphor: a figure of speech combining inconsistent or incongruous metaphors Hence a requirement is that a 'mixed metaphor' contains more than one ...
3
votes
10answers
695 views

Is “The Walking Dead” a personification?

Personification (or anthropomorphism) is attributing human features to non-humans. Technically, a dead human is not a human and we give the attribute of walking to the dead. So, Is "the walking dead" ...
0
votes
1answer
564 views

What is the figure of speech called when there is a conjunction of things that are actually in subset relation?

For example "animals and cats", "plants and flowers", "stars and suns" etc. It’s similar to tautology but the things aren’t synonym. Is there a name for this figure?
2
votes
2answers
57 views

Are the abbreviations IMO and IMHO synonymous to each other?

Is there a difference between IMO (In My Opinion) and IMHO (In My Honest Opinion)? You see both forms frequently being used in online conversatiosn. Do they mean the same, or is there a slight ...
-1
votes
3answers
169 views

Children caught by an adult doing something wrong, relaying the blame onto each other

Here's the basic situation: two fairly young children, boy and girl, caught by an adult after doing something really wrong (i.e., for example, breaking some sort of precious vase or something like ...
0
votes
2answers
209 views

What's the meaning of “emotional stake”?

What does an "emotional stake" mean? E.g: to increase the emotional stakes, I had my favorites in both.
1
vote
4answers
460 views

Possession and personification

Is the act of possessing an example of personification if attributed to inanimate objects? Here, "possession" means the possession of physical things as well as the possession of virtues or qualities ...
0
votes
2answers
167 views

What is the correct grammar to use for this common style of speaking?

Oftentimes when people want to emphasize something, an idea is repeated three times, but without closing it as a full sentence. I am not sure how to write this in a formal essay. Here is my example: ...
1
vote
2answers
136 views

How would you characterize the phrase 'a more perfect union'? [closed]

My question pertains to the usage of 'a more perfect union' in its original context-- the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. I want to say that this is a metaphor, because the authors are using the ...
4
votes
2answers
105 views

Is 'to gain an advantage' a pleonasm?

The definition of "advantage" is roughly "something positive". Definitions for "to gain" are rather varied, but usually mean "to win something" with a positive connotation. With this in mind, is "to ...
1
vote
1answer
84 views

Categorization of figures of speech

Is there a clear categorization of tropes? Some talk of the four master tropes (Metaphor, Synecdoche, Metonymy, Irony), Whereas some give An extended, unsorted list of tropes Some talk about the ...
0
votes
1answer
316 views

Is there a name for this literary device?

Is there a term that describes the act of giving tangible qualities to an intangible noun? I stumbled over a metaphor or I felt sadness condense on my skin The first one might just be ...
1
vote
1answer
201 views

What is the meaning of these two sentences in David Copperfield?

There are two sentences in David Copperfield that I don't quite understand, with regards to their (possible) figurative meaning. Chapter XIII: [...] a muslin curtain partly undrawn in the middle, ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Meaning of a mixed metaphor from “The Gift of The Magi”?

This is from The Gift of The Magi by O Henry (William Sydney Porter). Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. (part 4, paragraph 5 in the reference ...
-2
votes
2answers
166 views

What is 'decreased activity' an example of?

People use decreased activity (for example) where decrease in activity would be more literally correct. For example, reasons for my decreased activity usually refers to reasons for a decrease, not to ...
3
votes
5answers
417 views

What is the term for a common expression that is inaccurate or misleading?

What is the term for a common expression or colloquialism that is inaccurate or misleading, such as the use of "mental math" to mean "mental calculation" or "mental arithmetic"?
9
votes
2answers
275 views

Name for phrase of words in increasing significance

I'm looking at the phrase "THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY". The thing I'm trying to think of is the joke format where you list a bunch of things and then change the last word for humorous effect. I ...
1
vote
2answers
139 views

Is unknown certainty oxymoronic?

If someone started a story thus, In a time lost, in a certain yet unknown place, is the Castle of Umberdeen ... How could an entity be a certainty and yet unknown? It does not make sense. But ...
1
vote
1answer
438 views

When can a metaphor become a double entendre

I've been engaged in debate for some days now, about a discussion in a panel of a Captain America comic book. In the comic book, Bucky, his sidekick, says that "you have been running a mile a minute ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

What's the origin of the figure of speech “call the shots”?

I'm well aware that when someone says "he's the one who calls the shots" it means that that person is the one in charge, the one who takes all the relevant decisions. But what's the origin of this ...
1
vote
1answer
249 views

Polish your mug idiom

Recently I've heard couple of interesting idioms one of which was "Make yourself scarce or I'll polish your mug". So, I was wondering is it really used like that? I've heard of "Make yourself scarce" ...
0
votes
2answers
373 views

Proverb/Idiom for Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other? [duplicate]

I am looking for a figure of speech which means something vaguely like this: "Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other" Is there a proverb or phrase for this because I am not ...
5
votes
5answers
13k views

What is a synonym for “jack of all trades, master of none”?

What is a synonym of jack of all trades, master of none? I want to differentiate it from a generalist (might have deep knowledge about everything)? On the same note, is there a better way to say ...
2
votes
1answer
905 views

Litotes: Always for Emphasis? Used for Non-committal Hedging? Any Authoritative Source?

My question is about litotes. I’m wondering if it is always for emphasis, or whether it can be a type of non-committal statement or hedging. And, is there an authoritative source that can be cited ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Change is the only constant – antithesis or oxymoron?

Change is the only constant – Isaac Asimov Can the above quote be called an example of antithesis or that of oxymoron, or neither of these? I am confused because both antithesis and oxymoron have ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “desperacy” not an English word?

I know one says an act of desperation, but I've heard desperacy much more than I've ever heard desperation, it's like I've almost never heard desperation. Why exactly was desperation preferred over ...
8
votes
2answers
202 views

Why PBS is called Big Bird as its byname?

I found “Big Bird” being used as the byname of public broad services in the article titled,“The Red and Blue Fantasies behind the Big Bird War” appearing in Time magazine’s October 9 issue which ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Idiom for opportunistically exploiting a situation to one's advantage

I was wondering what various figures of speech could be used to describe a situation where somebody exploits a situation in order to push their own agenda. For example in Persian we have 'Catching a ...
5
votes
2answers
378 views

Talking about not talking about the topic—name of figure of speech [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a name for “I don't mean to…, but” phrases? Term for mentioning X by saying “I will not say X” I am looking for a name of a ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Can you really “See that thing in person”?

Consider the following scenario: A woman at a store is shown a dress by a clerk. After a few moments, she tells the clerk that she would like "to see it in red". The clerk would then go and ...
1
vote
4answers
663 views

Figurative expression for outrageous/unlikely/overly bold claim

What expressions could one use to qualify an expression as unlikely, to soften the impact by changing it from accusation or hyperbole into unlikely (if outrageous) conjecture? Something like "God ...