Questions tagged [rhetorical-devices]

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8
votes
2answers
10k views

Is there a name for “I don't mean to…, but” phrases?

"I don't mean to change the subject, but..." but you are changing the subject. "I don't mean to interrupt, but..." but you are interrupting. Is there a name for these type of "polite" phrases?
17
votes
4answers
1k views

What should we call language that intentionally conveys the opposite of the literal meaning?

This seems to me to be a kind of rhetorical figure, but I cannot find a classical term for it in Silva Rhetoricae. Examples include the following from Tristram Shandy (Vol. 2 Chap. 24): I define a ...
20
votes
4answers
12k views

Origin of “he's 6 feet tall if he's an inch”

I have heard this pattern used before in American English: She's 6 feet tall if she's an inch. It was a gallon of blood if it was a drop. The baby was 10 pounds if it was an ounce. I ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Repeating the consonant in many words in a sentence or phrase

In the movie 'V for Vendetta' you have for example (bold part): Evey: Who are you? V. : Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask. Evey: ...
7
votes
1answer
217 views

Reversing Binomials

Siamese twins or binomials are pairs of expressions which are often conjoined. For example: back and forth ebb and flow near and far better or worse do or die Is there is a name for the rhetorical ...
2
votes
1answer
457 views

Is there a rhetorical term for remarks like “you're exactly what I've come to expect from…”?

Is there a specific term for a statement that uses words such that their precise meaning conveys a subtext contrary to the colloquial meaning? For example, the joke in Men in Black: Gentlemen, ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the literary device that describes phrases like “faithfully unfaithful”?

I came across a Wikipedia page a few months ago that described a literary device that had two opposite words side by side in a sentence. Unlike an oxymoron ("horribly kind", "run slow"), this page ...
0
votes
2answers
890 views

What figure of speech is this?

"Cannon to the right of them, Cannon to the left of them, Cannon in front of them." Years ago, when I was introduced to "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (Tennyson, 1854) our teacher ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

“I'm happy to see that you are sober as a judge” Is this a rhetorical device?

Context: A few decades ago, during the electoral campaign for governor, there was a televised debate between the three major parties candidates. Candidate A, the favorite according to the polls, was ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Do people actually address their male child “Son” rather than a name, in real life English, or is this mainly a written English usage?

I regularly see films, books, stories and other English usages in which a person uses the term "son" where one might normally use a name. Usually, it's a father and they're portrayed in a reasonably ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

What is it called when someone uses a slightly absurd specific example of something to be humorous?

For example, "We're competing for attention with teenagers who would rather be playing Angry Birds," or "You need to explain this in a way that your grandmother who thinks the internet works by magic ...