I was wondering if there is a literary technique in the following quote:

"Let us be sacrificers but not butchers"

  • Hello Jaydon, I think your question might fit more the Writers SE...
    – Alenanno
    Jun 17, 2011 at 9:53
  • Only one I can think of is metaphor, if the phrase here wasn't meant literally. But Alenanno's right, this is wrong forum
    – Philoto
    Jun 17, 2011 at 9:58
  • @Philoto, Alenanno if he 1) rephrase 'literary technique' into speech pattern or 'language usage technique' (or my favorite - 'rhetorical technique'), 2) asks for a word that describes it - would you then see the question as appropriate for EL&U?
    – Unreason
    Jun 17, 2011 at 10:12
  • @Unreason You can always call the black white, but that won't make it actually white, will it? We use metaphor and hyperbole in common speech quite often, but that doesn't make them "language using techniques". They are still literary techniques.
    – Philoto
    Jun 17, 2011 at 10:20
  • 1
    @Philoto, good argument regarding rhetoric not specific to a particular language (at least not as much as grammar is), but I would still argue that it falls under usage. For example, if someone asks is certain expression sarcastic I think there is no objection that this is appropriate for EL&U. For me, that is also a question that should be tagged rhetoric. Anyway, this is noisy for here, so... meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/1375/…
    – Unreason
    Jun 17, 2011 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


Under classic rhetoric I think this would be called correctio (L. “correction, amendment”)

The amending of a term or phrase just employed; or, a futher specifying of meaning, especially by indicating what something is not (which may occur either before or after the term or phrase used). A kind of redefinition, often employed as a parenthesis (an interruption) or as a climax.


I desire not your love, but your submissive obedience.

It might also be called restrictio (from L. restringere “to restrain”)

Making an exception to a previously made statement. Restricting or limiting what has already been said.


She's the most beautiful woman in the world—present company excepted.

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