Rhetoric is the art and study of the use of language with persuasive effect. Along with grammar and logic or dialectic, rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse.

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Does the type of play on words in “Some people are immune to good advice” have a name?

On Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman remarks, "Some people are immune to good advice." Similarly, a friend of mine described a weekend as "a celebration of procrastination". Does word play that juxtaposes ...
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2answers
79 views

Is there a name for the rhetorical device that uses difficult but irrelevant theories to advance one's argument?

Some arguments cite quantum mechanics as evidence to suppose the existence of a metaphysical being. In order to argue with these people, one would have to study quantum mechanics which is very ...
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3answers
1k views

Usage and example of the word “litotes”

I've come across the word litotes, which means a rhetorical understatement. However, I’m having trouble understanding how to use it in colloquial English. Could someone please give an example?
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2answers
51 views

Does the phase “what's an honest man to do?” have a specific literary origin, or is it simply a common-usage rhetorical question?

I have seen the phrase used in this form or as a template for other rhetorical questions - e.g., "what's an honest economist to do?"; "what's an honest business owner to do?";"what's an honest ...
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1answer
40 views

Variation(?) on Antanaclasis

US President Obama in his recent annual State of the Union address to the Congress: In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise ...
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1answer
45 views

What kind of rhetoric is (this particular) “No one ever […]”

The President also knows that we have to stop blaming victims for these crimes. No one ever asks the person who got robbed at gunpoint in the street -- why were you there, what were you doing, ...
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3answers
67 views

A statement of request in that implies an obvious answer is expected

Is there a name for a statement someone makes, in which they issue a command for feedback, or request information, but the answer they want is totally obvious? For example, your friend shows you ...
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2answers
130 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 ...
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2answers
137 views

How can a run-on sentence be valid as, say, a rhetorical device?

On run-on sentences, Wikipedia says: This is generally considered a stylistic error, though it is occasionally used in literature and may be used as a rhetorical device. At the end of the ...
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2answers
123 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: ...
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2answers
272 views

What is the opposite of synecdoche?

If synecdoche represents when a part of a thing or person refers to the whole, what is it called when the whole is used to refer to a part? For example, we often hear about what "The American People ...
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4answers
168 views

Is there a grammatical name for this type of sentence construction?

Zookeepers encouraged him to spend more time in the Monkey House…until one day they locked him inside. This quote was taken from an article about an African man who, in 1906, was locked in a zoo ...
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2answers
80 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 ...
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1answer
130 views

Logical fallacy brain-freeze

There must be a name for this sort of after-the-fact non-argument. Sorry, this is the only way I could find to describe it. Debbie finds a kitten. Kitten has been burned over half its body, but ...
3
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5answers
223 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"?
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2answers
241 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 ...
2
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3answers
240 views

Term that means making humans look inanimate

Keeping personification as a related (yet opposite) concept, is there a term that means "to give humans lifeless or inanimate appearance"? For example, in a recent photo shoot, the photographer ...
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2answers
81 views

Is “Tsuki hits” an example of alliteration?

I understand alliteration to be "repetition of a sound in successive stressed syllables". Assuming that's correct then "Tsuki hits" should be alliterate (since stress pattern is "TSU-ki HITS"). But ...
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5answers
120 views

literary or rhetorical definition

Looking for single word definition for a question or riddle that seemingly has no answer. Designed to confuse. Not paradox or conundrum. I.e "What is the sounds of on hand clapping?"
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3answers
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Is there a word for answering a question with a question?

I am aware that answering student questions with further, leading questions is sometimes dubbed “Socratic,” but I am asking more broadly about all occasions where someone asks a question and, instead ...
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1answer
188 views

What is it called when one word in a sentence “downplays” another?

In sentences such as "I'm a little devastated" "He's a little obese" We tend to think of obese and devastated as being on the more extreme end of the scale when describing something, but what is ...
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5answers
2k views

“A whole nother” way of looking at things

People say this so much (instead of "another whole" way, etc.) that I wonder how it got started. How did "another whole..." get changed to "a whole nother..."?
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3answers
266 views

What is the name of this stylistic device?

There is a stylistic device where you begin and end a text with the same metaphor.I'm sorry I don't have a "real-world" example in English, but I'll try to describe what I mean. Let's say there's an ...
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1answer
69 views

Which kind of logical fallacy is this?

A blogger writes of the artisanal movement that it is born out of a preference for things that are hand made. He points out (presumably as a criticism of this) that in the 16th century a gentleman ...
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2answers
90 views

Responding with a basic fact to imply a point of view is clearly flawed or wrong

What is a word or concept that describes a situation where one person puts forth a point of view, and another person does not directly address the position, but instead responds with an obvious, basic ...
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1answer
75 views

Usage of “Who's to Say X”, Followed by Defending X, or Attacking X?

I have seen two different uses of "Who's to say X". It appears to me, that the author could either defend X in a sarcastic or ironic way, or could attack X by presenting evidence contrary to X. My ...
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2answers
2k views

Figure of Speech vs. Figure of Thought

Is there any meaningful difference between a "figure of speech" and a "figure of thought". Searching for a definition of "figure of thought" leads to many esoteric discussions relating to ancient ...
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1answer
153 views

What kind of rhetoric is “The computer runs as fast as a rocket.”?

At first sight I would say it is a metaphor, but after some thought I'm not sure anymore. The parallel is not so exact between the two objects, since the speed of a computer usually refers to the ...
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1answer
705 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 ...
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1answer
60 views

Isn’t it odd to refer the king of winner as the king of loser?

There was the following sentence in the article titled, “Vegas. Rove attack ads seal victory for Hillary” appearing in May 10 New Yorker magazine: “The oddsmaker’s only concern, he added, was that ...
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1answer
714 views

Why would you want to do that? [closed]

I recently shared with several coworkers that I wanted to go to a particular class. My coworker responded to me with the following question: "Why would you want to do that?" I responded with a ...
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1answer
106 views

What is this type of argument called?

There is a kind of argument that goes like this: x is good because if x were not there, y would be bad. What is this kind of argument called? I learned about this in school but forget the name ...
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1answer
262 views

Rhetorical analysis — compare? [closed]

Can someone please explain similarities and differences between rhetorical analysis and close reading?
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1answer
516 views

Analyzing rhetorical strategies used [closed]

This essay question prompts: Read the letter carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze the rhetorical strategies Lewes uses to establish her position about the development of a writer. ...
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280 views

Advice on rhetorical usage?

A rhetorical question is a question asked in order to make a point, without expectation of an answer. Here is something similair, and I want to know if there exists a name for it, I'll illustrate it ...
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1answer
358 views

Difference between “hypotyposis”, “ekphrasis” and “iconotext” [closed]

What is the difference between hypotyposis, ekphrasis and iconotext?
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2answers
310 views

Literary device: frequently referenced object which never appears

What do you call an object or a person which is frequently referenced but never actually appears? For example, Godot from ‘Waiting for Godot’?
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4answers
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Did the “We shall fight on the beaches” speech mainly use words from Old English? If so, why?

I read today that Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches" speech mainly used words from Old English. Wikipedia's article states that Melvyn Bragg claimed in "The Adventure of English" that only ...
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4answers
907 views

Is there a term for referring to an organization by its city rather than by its name?

This happens specifically often in the technology press: There's no point trying to ascribe motives to what Redmond [instead of "Microsoft"] does. We'll see shortly if Cupertino [instead of ...
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3answers
765 views

Is there a name for inverting word order to accomplish a different meaning?

There are many sayings that invert the word order to convey a different meaning. e.g. "Do you live to work or do you work to live?" "He who fails to plan, plans to fail" Is there a name for this ...
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5answers
432 views

Word for rhetorical style where different arguments get progressively weaker

I'm looking for a word to describe the rhetorical style where one uses different arguments that are not additional, but rather get weaker and weaker. I'm not explaining it very well, so let me give an ...
4
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2answers
215 views

Name for equivocal similes such as found in hip-hop lyrics?

I've observed a figure of speech used heavily by rappers which uses the basic construction of a simile—a "this like that" comparison—when the similarity in the comparison is purely linguistic. That ...
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3answers
5k views

A word for when a word is used incorrectly (grammatically) but can still be parsed in a grammatically correct way?

Does such a word exist? An example: Do good. Supposing that my intention in saying "Do good!" was actually "Do well (on your test)!", the sentence still parses correctly as "Do good (deeds)!" I ...
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6answers
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Dropping the subject from sentences

Consider this example: He got into the car. Started the engine, checked the mirrors. Stepped on the gas and headed down Main Street. Omitting the subject from a sentence isn't proper ...
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4answers
271 views

What is the grammatical term for the following idiom?

When there is a group or list of specific items, its components are curiously pluralized when reciting them in one sentence. For instance,when a person discusses the qualities of blue-chip stocks, he ...
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12answers
11k views

What is a word for a question that has no answer because it is seemingly invalid?

A friend of mine posted a riddle on Facebook involving adding money and then subtracting money. It ended with a question asking where $1 went, but the trick was that there was no discrepancy, so the ...
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10answers
3k views

What are some old-world alternatives or precursors to 'WTF' (expressions of frustration or surprise)? [closed]

Such as 'what on Earth' or 'what in the world', etc. I'm trying to come up with a list of witty alternatives. Note: I'm not looking for alternatives to the letters W, T, and F. I'm looking for ...
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5answers
321 views

Word to describe this specific kind of irrational reasoning

I would like to know if there is a word/idiom to describe a certain phenomenon (maybe social inclination is a better word). I think it's kind of an anti-intellectualism, but anti-intellectualism ...
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Phrase for asking the obvious

In my language when a question is asking something really obvious we are using a phrase that if translated means: What is making a "meow meow" sound on the roof/rooftop? Is there an equivalent ...
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5answers
338 views

Word for suggesting solutions to a problem solely to demonstrate contempt for the expected problem-solver

I have noticed that, with certain kinds of problems - political problems spring to mind - some people (who are not in a position to make decisions about the problem) are prone to suggesting a certain ...