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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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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2answers
2k views

Rhetoric vs. Mathematics: ellipsis/ellipse, parable/parabola, hyperbole/hyperbola

Do ellipsis, parable, and hyperbole from rhetoric have anything in common with the geometric curves ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola used in mathematics? There are three geometric curves known as ...
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12answers
13k 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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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
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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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3answers
6k 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 ...
8
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3answers
921 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 ...
8
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2answers
265 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 ...
8
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6answers
325 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 ...
7
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5answers
451 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 ...
7
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9answers
2k views

What to call certain types of vague words that trigger strong emotions

I guess I can call them 'politician words' but.... What do you call a word/phrase that has a lot of emotion behind it, but doesn't necessarily have any specific meaning. E.G.: Freedom, Liberty, ...
7
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4answers
288 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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5answers
8k views

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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6answers
2k views

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
2k views

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 ...
5
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3answers
2k views

Meaning of a quote in movie Casino Royale (2006)

Vesper Lynd: There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table. Here what does the line "There are dinner jackets ...
5
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3answers
991 views

Is there a term for switching syllables of words?

Primary question: A common speaking mistake is to exchange syllables of words, saying "It's trace rhyme!" instead of saying "It's race time!", or pronouncing "kickin' chackatory" instead of "chicken ...
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4answers
4k views

“You could do worse than [x]”

I can't really tell what someone means when he says "you could do worse than [x]." Live example: If you are just interested in a simple command line processor which uses MSXML 6 then you could do ...
5
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2answers
74 views

Dramatic hijacking of a sentence

A common trope in movies. What's it called? Person A: The President was a brilliant man! A truly one-of-a-kind-- Person B: killer, who used his ruthless abandon to get ahead!
5
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3answers
118 views

Use of “well” to signal a pseudo-awkward pause before an impending word repetition or pun

In an article titled “The Ice Age Cometh” (Fortune, May 25, 1998, reprinted in The Great Unraveling, 2003), Paul Krugman writes: Suppose that two tribes—the Clan of the Cave Bear and its neighbor, ...
4
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5answers
6k views

The same word used to define itself [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a word for an acronym which spells out one of its component words? What's that figure of speech in which you use the same word to define its meaning, thereby ...
4
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3answers
346 views

Is this an example of irony?

It's ironical that Linux, the most secure OS, is commonly used to hack other machines. Is that sentence correct, with respect to the irony part?
4
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1answer
899 views

Term for mentioning X by saying “I will not say X” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the origin of the phrase “not to mention …” Is there a name for “I don't mean to…, but” phrases? Is there a term for ...
4
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5answers
94 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 ...
4
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1answer
225 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 ...
4
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2answers
240 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
715 views

Rhetorical device in Julius Caesar

I thrice presented him a kingly crown/ which he did thrice refuse" Just wondering what the rhetorical technique is in that phrase.
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4answers
582 views

What do you call the exploitation of ambiguous statements to form a logical argument?

If I were construct an argument containing the postulation Men commit more crimes than women. I would be guilty of a logical fallacy because this statement implies All men commit crimes. The ...
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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 ...
4
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5answers
405 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 ...
4
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4answers
2k views

What makes a question rhetorical?

according to Wikipedia: A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Example: "How much longer ...
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3answers
2k 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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3answers
101 views

Stylistic / rhetorical device used by Obama over and over

After reading some of his speeches, I see one rhetorical device used over and over by Obama, some examples for it include: large or small wealthy or poor able or disabled gay or straight young or ...
3
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5answers
343 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"?
3
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3answers
104 views

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 ...
3
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2answers
350 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’?
3
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2answers
976 views

Difference between a synecdoche and metonym?

From the definitions of these two types of figures of speech (tropes, if you will), I have always understand them to mean the same thing. Essentially, that is the usage of either a specific attribute ...
3
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3answers
59 views

Word/name for rhetorical technique to give appearance of expertise where none exists?

For example, the speaker states "Anyone that has taken probability and statistics in college knows... blah blah blah", implying the speaker has such a background, with the intent to assert some ...
3
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5answers
128 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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10answers
4k 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 ...
2
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3answers
255 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
174 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 ...
2
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5answers
338 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 ...
2
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1answer
54 views

Can't think of a name for a rhetorical figure

I have a feeling there's a name for a rhetorical figure, or perhaps a misuse of language, along the following lines: He went out to get drunk, and the mail. In other words I'm looking for a term ...
2
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1answer
448 views

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

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

How to describe the rhetorical technique of dismissing the question?

I seek an elegant term for argument or technique of rhetoric that takes the form of dismising the question, instead of responding to the argument. I first assumed that this would be a fallacy of ...
2
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3answers
76 views

Placing the object of an infinitive before it instead of after it

At the beginning of 1807, based on information gathered from Burr’s correspondence allegedly showing that he had begun preparations for a large-scale military expedition, the former vice ...
2
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1answer
42 views

What rhetoric is applied in this sentence?

There is no point in pretending that XXX is what it is not, nor that it is not what it is. I feel that English language has many of these kind of usage that exploits the fact that the logically ...
2
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1answer
55 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, ...
2
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1answer
829 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 ...