Home GRAMMAR Figures Of Speech: Definition, Types and Examples

Figures Of Speech: Definition, Types and Examples

Figures of Speech
Figures Of Speech: Definition, Types and Examples

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What is Figure of Speech?
A Figure of speech is a word or phrase which is used in a non-literal sense to add interest to language, in a spoken form or written one. It is a divergence from the simple and ordinary manner of speaking or writing in order to have a greater effect in language.

Figures of speech are very important as they enhance the charm and beauty of language and their careful and correct use can create the picture before the eyes of readers or listeners. Figures of speech have a pictorial quality, so one can visualize the description after reading the figurative text.
  • non-literal way to create an effect
  • deliberate arrangement of words to achieve something poetic
  • words possess a separate meaning from its literal definition
  • used to convey meaning or heighten effect
A Simile is the most commonly used figure of speech in which two dissimilar ideas, things, objects or concepts are compared with each other for something common between them. In simile, the comparison is very evident because the markers such as ‘like’  or ‘as’ are present in the sentence.
  • My love is like a red, red rose.
  • John is brave as a lion.
  • Her complexion is white as a snow.
  • It is as light as a feather.
  • He was eating like a pig.
  • It is bright as the sun.
  • The floor was as slippery as eel.
  • She was looking fresh like a newly bloomed flower.
  • You are so slow as a snail!
A Metaphor is also the most commonly used figure of speech in which a comparison is made between two apparently unlike or different things, ideas, or concepts.  Metaphor is a condensed form of simile and the comparison is implied. The markers such as ‘like’ or ‘as’ are not used in the metaphor.
  • A camel is the ship of the desert.
  • John is a lion.
  • Laughter is the best medicine.
  • Your words pierce deeper than the sword.
  • He was drowned into the sea of sorrow.
  • Love is a battlefield.
  • Time is money.
  • All the world is a stage.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • Silence is golden, speech is silver.
Personification is one of the common a figures of speech in which an ideas, animals, inanimate things or objects are given human qualities as if they were human beings.
  • The phone is dead.
  • Love is blind.
  • My heart leaps up when I behold the rainbow.
  • The wind whispered!
  • The picture speaks a lot.
  • Time and tide wait for none.
  • The nature is angry with man.
  • Walls have ears.
  • His laptop is not working.
  • The star is winking.
Alliteration is a common figure of speech in which there is a repetition of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of two or more words. But it should be noted that Alliteration does not refer to the repetition of consonant letters that begin words, For example, the phrase“ Kate’s Cake” is alliterative; though the words begin with different consonant letters, they produce the same consonant sounds. Moreover, the phrase “ Pick up the Phone” is not alliterative; though both words begin with the same consonant, the initial consonant sounds are different.
Alliteration gives a kind of rhythm to the poem. Tongue-twisters are the best examples of alliteration and those really help to improve one’s pronunciation and speech.
  • She sells seashells.
  • Fresh fried fish.
  • Curiosity killed the cat.
  • The ship sailed and sank like the Titanic.
  • The student shook his head positively.
  • He is Fredrick’s fast friend
  • Time and tide wait for none.
  • It was chilling cold that chopped me.
  • ‘Love’s labour’s lost’ is written by William Shakespeare.
  • The delicious cake made his mouth water.
Hyperbole is a figure of speech that contains an exaggeration of ideas for the purpose of emphasis. It is a device which is employed in our daily conversation most of the times to highlight the point and intensify the feeling. Basically, in love-poems, this figure of speech is used on a large scale.
  • It’s been ages since I last met you.
  • Your bag weighs a ton!
  • She is as heavy as an elephant!
  • John is solving a million issues these days.
  • I am dying of hunger.
  • She was more beautiful than the Moon.
  • Till all the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt with the sun.
  • You sit on the throne of lies.
  • I am the king of the world.
A Paradox is a statement which seems to be contradictory on the surface, but after contemplating, it makes sense as it contains the truth of life.
  • I must be cruel only to be kind.
  • He is a wise fool.
  • It is strange to be not strange.
  • I know one thing, that I know nothing.
  • Do not go into the water until you have learnt to swim.
  • Your enemy’s friend is your enemy.
  • I shut my eyes so that I can see.
  • All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
  • The more you give, the more you get.
  • It is the beginning of the end.
Euphemism is an inoffensive expression which is used instead of disagreeable, unpleasant or embarrassing words. Euphemisms are used in relation to such subjects as religion, bodily functions, death, aging, sex, and so on.
Common words Euphemism
  Died/related to death    i. Passed away
   ii. Bought the Farm
   iii. Kicked the bucket
   iv. Resting in peace
   v. Meet the maker
   vi. Six feet under
  Poor    Economically Challenged
  Old    Senior
  Overweight    Big-boned
  Toilet    Porcelain Throne
  Urination    Number one
  Defecation    Number two
  Euthanize    Put to sleep
Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech in which words create the sound of the objects or things they refer to. For example- zoom, buzz, tick-tock, hum, sizzle, jingle, hiss, woof, meow, moo, bang etc.
  • The bee flew away buzzing.
  • The snake hissed at the man.
  • Baa, baa black-sheep.
  • Cows moo here and there.
  • The bell rang.
  • I was frightened by the rustle of leaves.
  • The door banged.
  • We heard the lion roaring in the forest.
  • The baby cackles.
  • Birds are chirping in the sky.
An Apostrophe is a figure of speech in which the speaker directly addresses someone or something, living or dead, inanimate objects or ideas. The person or thing being addressed may be absent or dead and cannot respond.
  • Death, be not proud.
  • Thou was not born for death, immortal bird!
  • Poor soul, thy centre the sinful earth!
  • O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being.
  • The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind.
  • Then come, sweet death, and rid me of this grief.
  • O, black night!
  • Thou glorious sun!
  • Oh,god! Help me.
  • Twinkle,twinkle, little star!
Oxymoron is the figure of speech where two opposing or contradictory words are juxtaposed.
  • Found missing
  • Original copy
  • Silent scream
  • Irregularly regular
  • Virtual reality
  • Only choice
  • Wise fool
  • Kind cruelty
  • Same difference
  • Close distance
Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is employed to indicate the whole or the whole is used to indicate the part of something.
  • Wheels indicates vehicles
  • The Pentagon indicates the U.S. Military leaders
  • The White House indicates government/president of the U.S.
  • Hands indicate workers
  • Threads indicate garments
  • Bread indicates food
  • Ivories indicate the piano keys
  • Boots indicate soldiers
  • I have not read Shakespeare indicates the works of Shakespeare
  • Pearly gates indicate heaven
Pun is a figure of speech which is also known as ‘a play upon words’. Pun contains identical or alike words having different meanings. They are used in speech or literature for creating a humorous effect, but they have serious purpose too in works of art.
  • Life of the liver depends on the liver.
  • This librarian is a great book-keeper.
  • He likes archery, but he is not able to see the point.
  • The cyclist was two-tired to win the race.
  • The wedding cake had me in tiers.
  • The population of Ireland is always Dublin.
  • Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  • The road to success is always construction.
  • It’s difficult for crabs to share because they are shellfish.
  • The cat is near the computer and having an eye on the mouse.
Metonymy literally means ‘a change of name’, in this figure of speech, the speaker or writer replaces an idea or object with something else because of some close association existing between them.
  • Be the rainbow in someone’s cloud
  • Silver screen for movies or theatre
  • Hollywood for film industry abroad
  • Booze for alcohol
  • Cup for beverage
  • Press for news media
  • Academics for everything associated with school, study, university and so on
  • Jocks for athletes
  • Fluids for hydrating substances
  • Ride for car or bike
Antithesis is a figure of speech in which two opposing ideas or thoughts are placed side by side. Antithetic statements have deeper and more serious meaning.
  • To err is human, to forgive divine.
  • No pain, no gain.
  • Speech is silver, but silence is golden.
  • Spicy food is heaven on the tongue but hell in the tummy.
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
  • Some people make money, some waste it.
  • Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
  • Where there is a will, there is a way.
Litotes is a common figure of speech in which negative words are used to assert some positive meaning.
  • It’s not bad dress.
  • Your decision is not the worst.
  • This lesson is not too hard.
  • His performance is not that bad.
  • Success doesn’t come for free.
  • He is no Prince charming.
  • This is not an ordinary lamp.
  • The weather is not much bad.
  • He is not wrong.
  • His car is not cheap.
Antanaclasis is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is repeated within a sentence, but the word or phrase means something different each time it appears in the sentence.
  • Put out the light, then put out the light. (light- candle, light- life)
  • “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
        But I have promises to keep,
        And miles to go before I sleep,
        And miles to go before I sleep.” (sleep- rest, sleep- death)
  • If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm. (fired- ignited, fired- dismissed)
  • If we don’t hang together, we will hang (hang- united, hang- hanged)
  • Your argument is sound….. nothing but sound. (sound- strong, sound- noise)
The word climax is derived from the Greek word which means ‘a ladder’. In this figure of speech, the words, phrases or clauses are arranged in a sequence of increasing importance, means the most important comes first and least one in the end.
  • I came, I saw, I conquered.
  • When it rains, it pours.
  • Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Lost, vaded, broken, dead within an hour.
  • He begs, he lies, he steals, he kills for gold.
Repetition is a very common figure of speech in which the poet or the writer repeats the word or phrase two or more times in the same text, in order to highlight or emphasize the importance of the idea or feeling being expressed through the same.
  • Rain,rain go away!
  • The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
       But I have to go miles before I sleep,
       And  I have to go miles before I sleep.
  • Home sweet, home!
  • The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round!
  • Men will be men.
  • I gazed-and gazed-but little thought.
       What wealth the show to me had brought.
Inversion is the figure of speech in which the poet changes the grammatical order of the words for the purpose of making lines rhyme with each other or for emphasizing something.
  • To me alone there came a thought of grief.
  • In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
  • Ten thousand I saw at a glance.
  • For oft, when on my couch I lie
      In vacant or in pensive mood.
  • And then my heart with pleasure fills,
      And dances with the daffodils.
Exclamation is the figure of speech which is used to express a strong emotion like joy, sorrow, anger, surprise, fear, excitement, wonder and so on. At the end of the sentence, there is an exclamation mark or point.
  • Oh lord, help me!
  • My goodness, you did it!
  • Get lost!
  • Hurrah, it’s holiday tomorrow!
  • How beautiful it is!
Interrogation is the figure of speech where there is a question which is asked  in order to get information. It is used to bring a dramatic effect in the speech.
  • What do you want now?
  • Why did you do that?
  • Where does she live?
  • How far will you go?
  • Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Rhyme is a literary device which is mainly used in poetry. Identical or similar syllables are repeated at the end of two or more lines. Rhyme is related with sounds rather than letters. For example, make-shake-lake-take-wake-neck etc are rhyming words.
  • Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
    In the forest of the Night.
  • The Pansy at my feet
    Doth the same tale repeat.
  • At length the Man perceives it die away,
    And fade into the light of common day.
  • Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
    And let the young Lambs bound
    As to the tabor’s sound!
  • Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
    Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
    To me the meanest flower that blows can give
    Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Transferred Epithet
Epithet means adjective which describes the noun. Transferred Epithet means the transfer of an adjective from its proper subject to another which is related to it.
  • Sleepless night. (Actually, the person is sleepless, not night)
  • The ploughman homeward plods his weary way. (The ploughman is weary, not the way)
  • The days are so busy! (The person is busy, not the day)
  • They were in an unhappy marriage!
  • He had a wonderful day!
Irony is one of the most widely used figures of speech in which the words are used to convey the meaning that is exactly opposite to what is actually said. Irony is used to express a strong emotion or highlight the point.

There are three types of Irony- Verbal, Situational and Dramatic.

  • Verbal Irony: In this irony, the meaning is different from what the speaker actually says.
    e.g. After looking at the poor performance of the student in the exam, the teacher says, “You got a very good marks in the exam, well done!”
  • Situational Irony: This irony happens when whatever is expected to happen does not occur, instead the opposite thing happens.
    e.g. The lawyer failed to rescue his son from the criminal case.
  • Dramatic Irony: This irony occurs when the audience or readers are aware of something which the characters of the story are not at all.
    e.g. The wife believed that her husband died in an accident, but the audience know that he survived somehow.


Figures Of Speech Quiz

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1 / 10

1. A Figure of speech is a word or phrase which is used in a _________ sense to add interest to language.

2 / 10

2. “A camel is the ship of the desert.” This is an example of _____________

3 / 10

3. Choose the example of 'Inversion' from the following options.

4 / 10

4. In this figure of speech, the words are arranged in a sequence of increasing importance.

5 / 10

5. "At length the Man perceives it die away
     And fade into the light of common day"

This is the example of ____________

6 / 10

6. 'Antithesis' is a figure of speech in which ____________________

7 / 10

7. Choose the perfect example of 'Personification'

8 / 10

8. A figure of speech in which words create the sound of the objects or things they refer to-

9 / 10

9. ____________ is a common figure of speech in which there is a repetition of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of two or more words.

10 / 10

10. Choose the perfect example for the Figure of Speech 'Hyperbole'.

Your score is


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