Figures of Speech : Types and Examples | Most common figures of speech

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What are figure of speech ? ( figure of speech )

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A figure of speech refers to a phrase or word that is used in a nonliteral sense to create rich or rhetorical effects. It’s an expression that is not the literal meaning of its original meaning.

A figure of speech describes something or someone in a vivid and interesting way. Although the words and phrases might not necessarily mean what they suggest they do, they create a clear picture for the listener or reader. A figure of speech may be expressed as a phrase, or as a single word. These figures are also called rhetorical figures.

Figurine of speech is more understandable than idioms, because you don’t have to know the language to understand it. Each language has its own figures of speech and idioms. These idioms are used to make writing more exciting.

Additional key information about figures of speech :

  • To better understand the use of language, the ancient Greeks and Romans meticulously listed, classified, and categorize figures of speech. Most figures of speech are named after the Latin or Greek original.
  • Figures of speech which play with the literal meanings of words are known as tropes. Schemes are figures of speech which play with the order and pattern of words.
  • There are many types of figures of speech. A figure of speech could be a single word, phrase, an omission, repetition of words, sounds, or specific sentence structures.

Common Types of figures of Speech ( figure of speech )

There are many kinds of English speech figures, but we will only be able to recognize the most popular.

All Types of Figure of Speech List


Alliteration refers to a form of speech where two words that are usually consecutive start with the same consonant sound, but not always the latter.

Although the words don’t have to be exactly next to one another, they are repeated when spoken or read together.

Take, for example: four fabulous fish And Go and collect the flowers from the grass.

Alliteration makes it easier to understand what you are writing or saying. Alliteration is used by poets and writers to make their writing more memorable and enjoyable to read. Below is a list of alliterative phrases.

Examples of alliteration

  1. Cold coffee
  2. Happy Harry
  3. Peter Piper selected a pickle pepper from a group
  4. She sells seashells at the beach shore
  5. Becky’s beagle, Becky, barked and bayed, which annoyed Billy
  6. Donald Duck
  7. Jackrabbits jump, jiggle and jump wildly

As you practice, there are many other things you’ll see and new ones that you can create.


Metaphors are used all the time. Imagine your Mummy saying, “This house a zoo!” but not implying that it is where animals live. She simply means that everybody in the house is as loud as a group of animals.

To make the comparison clear, she is using the metaphor of the zoo to describe the house.

It’s great to use metaphors. They make our words more colorful and help people understand what we’re trying to say.

Examples of Metaphors

This list will help you understand the meaning of these metaphors. This will help you get started.

  1. Dirty pig – Very filthy
  2. To get cold feet – to become anxious
  3. To be an early bird – to arrive first or earlier
  4. pearls of wisdom – wise words


Personification refers to the addition of human characteristics to an object that is not human or alive.

For example, when you say: “The flowers nodded their head cheerfully.”

This is what you are referring to. The flowers were moving in the wind as if happy and cheerful. This is how you imagine that flowers can feel human emotions.

Personification examples

  1. Laughing flowers
  2. Howling wind
  3. smiling sun
  4. Opportunity knocks at your door
  5. Shoe bite


This big word simply means words that imitate sound sounds. Pitter-patter is an example of onomatopoeia. It sounds like rain, or perhaps little feet.

Onomatopoeia also includes the word tinkle. It sounds like falling water or a bell.

Onomatopoeia is a common word in everyday speech. This figure of speech is used by writers and poets to express themselves in their writing.

Onomatopoeia Examples

  1. Zoom
  2. Beep
  3. Groan
  4. Boom
  5. Click here
  6. Clip-clop
  7. Ding-dong


Similes are a form of speech where two things are directly compared. To make the comparison, we use the words like or as.

  1. As dark as the night
  2. as cool as a cucumber
  3. They fought like cats or dogs
  4. eat like a horse

All four of the above phrases are similes. A simile helps us to understand the meaning of the writer’s words. Similes are used by writers and poets to bring their writing to life.

Similes Examples

  1. Blind as a bat
  2. Bold as brass
  3. Bright as a button
  4. As black as coal
  5. Clear as crystal
  6. As cold as ice
  7. Cool as a cucumber


An oxymoron brings two Contrary ideas Together. They are used to draw attention to the reader/listener. To create a new word, two words that seem to have contradictory meanings are combined into one.

Examples of Oxymoron

  1. alone Together
  2. Deafening silence
  3. bittersweet
  4. living dead


Hyperbole means using Exaggerated statements to achieve effect. Hyperbole is often used by politicians and the media to grab attention and make their speeches or articles more compelling or more important.

See also  Positive, Comparative and Superlative Adjectives List

Hyperbole examples

  1. I have repeatedly told you not to get your feet dirty.
  2. Jake’s mom always makes enough food to feed an army.
  3. What are you storing in this suitcase? It weighs a ton.
  4. I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.


When a phrase is used too often, it loses its impact and lacks originality. Cliches can be considered old-fashioned and a sign that you are not writing well. They are expressions that are too common and no longer relevant or useful.

Cliche Examples

  1. All that glitters is not gold.
  2. All is fair in love and war.


A repetition is when a phrase or word is repeated, Effect or emphasis. Teachers frequently teach times tables through repetition, and musicians often repeat choruses in their songs. Martin Luther King’s speech, ‘I Have a Dream’, is a good example.

Repetition examples

  1. I will not do it.
  2. Let it snow, let it snow!
  3. It was years and years and years ago that he told me.
  4. Home sweet home.

Rhetorical Questions

This is the type of question doesn’t require an answer because it assumes that the listener or reader already knows the answer. Politicians and public speakers use rhetorical questions to convey their point and not because they expect to be answered. The answer is often obvious or what they believe it to be.

Rhetorical question examples

  1. Can pigs fly?
  2. Is the Pope Catholic?
  3. This is supposed to be a joke?
  4. We don’t need more failures, do we?

Three-Part List (Rule for three)

These are commonly used in advertising and speeches to grab attention and give emphasis.. It seems that three parts are more complete and well-informed than two.

Three-Part List Examples

  1. Snap, crackle, and pop.
  2. I came, I saw and I conquered.
  3. That project required me to put in my sweat, blood, and tears.
  4. Hear all, See all, Say Now (nothing).


When words are used to describe similar ending sound . It’s most commonly found in poetry and song lyrics, but it can also be seen in advertising and public speeches. Rhyming words are distinctive.

Rhyme examples

  1. 7-eleven
  2. Birds of one feather stick together.


An euphemism can be described as: Innocuous or indirect word. A phrase or expression that is used in place of something considered embarrassing, harsh, sensitive, sensitive or embarrassing. This is used to make light of or downplay an offensive or distressing situation. They can be used to cover sensitive topics such as gender, disability and death.

Euphemism Examples

  1. Friendly fire (attack by allied forces)
  2. He tells us a tall tale (a lie).
  3. Senior citizen (old person)
  4. Staff restructure (making people redundant)


Litotes is an understatement. It is often accompanied by a hint or irony. A phrase that is contrary to the truth is used instead of simply saying what you think.

Litotes examples

  1. It’s not rocket science, is it? This is often used when the task is simple.
  2. Today’s weather isn’t so great. (Said during a thunderstorm)
  3. She is not a spring chicken. (meaning that someone is not young).

Circumlocution (or periphrasis).

Circumlocution is also known as circumduction, circumvolution or periphrasis is Unnecessary use of many words, When fewer words would be more appropriate. Instead of directly referencing an idea or topic, it is better to circle, talk about, or avoid it altogether.

Example of circumlocution

  1. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I work from 9am to 2pm. (I work part time)
  2. He lives in a Victorian-era residence on the edge of town. (He lives in a terraced home.)
  3. Our Lord in heaven, our holy father. (God).
  4. My car is a stunning shade of metallic dark blue. (My car is blue.


It is Say the exact same thing twice using different words. This is a way to add emphasis or clarity, but it can also be unnecessarily wordy.

Tautology Examples

  1. Sally proudly told everyone that she made the handmade sweater herself.
  2. She is currently reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography about her life story.
  3. They climbed all the way up to the top Kilimanjaro all the way to the summit. .


Pun is a Play with words . It is often a jokey way to exploit the fact that words can sound similar or have multiple meanings or spellings. To get the job done, they rely heavily upon homophones or homonyms.

Pun Examples

  1. A coupe is the favorite car of chicken farmers.
  2. He has been to the dentist so many times that he is now familiar with the drill.
  3. I forgot where my wife was taking me, Alaska is right there.
  4. To win the race, the cyclist had to be two tired.


An epigram can be described as a “symbol” or a combination of two words. Use clever, witty or satirical phrases. A line of poetry. It usually expresses an innovative, paradoxical or memorable idea.

Examples of Epigrams

  1. I can resist temptation, Oscar Wilde
  2. Talking about something is worse than not talking about it.
  3. Never quit. Quitters lose.
  4. Virginia Woolf – Anonymous was a woman for most of history –


This comes from the Greek word Klimax which means “stairway or ladder”. The words and clauses in narrative are to create tension or drama to reach a peak (main portion of the story), and grab the attention of the entire audience. As tension or conflict builds, the reader mentally prepares for the final chapter.

Many films, books, and plays have conflict/drama that reaches a peak, then it is resolved at the end.

Climax examples

  1. Titanic – Imagine the tension rising as the ship hits the Ice-burg and begins to sink. There was water everywhere, and people running to rescue themselves or find their loved ones. The intrigue grows until the ship sinks beneath the surface. There is shock and disbelief at what remains of the survivors floating above.
  2. Martin Luther King – His “I have a Dream Speech” builds tension and reaches this climax.-A promise that all people, black and white, would be guaranteed “Unalienable Rights”, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
  3. Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is full of plot twists and increasing tension. These include family conflicts, love, death, and murder.

Irony – (Sarcasm)

A subtle form or humor that uses words in opposition to what they actually mean. There are three types of irony.

Verbal irony– Usually the opposite of what was said.
Exemple: Saying you can’t eat another food and then reaching for more cake.

Dramatic irony- This is when the audience is more attentive to the plotline than the characters.
Exemple: Shakespeare’s Macbeth. While Duncan believes Macbeth to be faithful, Macbeth actually plans to kill him. Duncan does not know this.

Situational irony– When something is totally unexpected or out of the ordinary. There is often a sense of surprise or shock.
Exemple: The possibility of winning the lottery and then dying the next day. For more examples, listen to Ironic by Alanis Morette


This is the exact opposite of something when two things are in stark contrast.

Antithesis examples

  1. Neil Armstrong 1969: One small step for man and one huge leap for humanity
  2. Many are called but only a few are selected.


Assonance is the opposite of harmony. Repeating the same vowel sound in a sentence or phrase.

See also  Essay on Education for all|A Short and Comprehensive Essay on Education for all.

Examples of Assonance

  1. Hear the mellow wedding bells.
  2. ​The rain in Spain, stays mainly on the plain.


Consonance is the repetition of the same consonant sound in a sentence or phrase.

Examples of consonance

  1. The rain pitter pattered in puddled.
  2. The baker baked the most adorable cupcakes.
  3. Peter Piper selected a handful of pickled peppers.


Anastrophe can be defined as a deliberate change of the normal word order for emphasis.

Anastrophe examples

  1. The greatest teacher, is failure.
  2. Into the lake the jeep drove.


A logosglyph refers to a word that is written in a symbol. It looks exactly like the image it portrays.

Example of a logoglyph

  1. The word bed, it actually looks like a bed.


The best way to comparing things based on their similarities. This is done to demonstrate the similarity, but not to explain.

Analogy Examples

  1. Life is like a box full of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. (From Forrest Gump).
  2. He is as strong as an ox.
  3. She is as quiet as a mouse.


Paradox refers to a statement that contains two contradicting facts, which may seem absurd or impossible but could be true.

Paradox Examples

  1. I cannot be cruel. Only to be kind. – Hamlet by Shakespeare.
  2. Because it’s so crowded, nobody goes to the beach on weekends.
  3. The young are the ones who waste their youth.


It is what it is added to a statement to provide additional information or explanation. These are often separated from main clauses by brackets, dashes, or commas.

Example of Parentheses

  1. His older brother, who has six children, will be visiting him next week.
  2. Sean Mullins ( last year’s winner), is the current favorite to win.
  3. The singer- and her backing band – arrived two hours late.


An exclamation mark punctuates a statement, strong emotion or excitement.

Exclamation Examples

  1. Oh! It really did hurt!
  2. You made me leap out of my skin!
  3. It’s a girl!


This sentence is what I mean asks a direct question. It is punctuated by a question mark.

Example of Interrogation

  1. What is Canada’s capital?
  2. Shall we invite our neighbours to a barbecue tomorrow ?
  3. Where are my car keys?


A part of something can be used in place of the entire.

Synecdoche Examples

  1. He took us out for a spin in the new wheels (Wheels = car).
  2. There was no comment from The White House. (The White House = President)


Metonymy is a synonym for a word or phrase with something similar. It is closely related to it.

Metonymy Examples

  1. Have you seen the most recent Hollywood blockbuster? Hollywood = The entire film industry
  2. The Crown cannot take a political side. (crown =the queen or royal family)
  3. The Press will have a field day. (press = All news agencies)


Dialect is The way people talk In a specific region. This involves representing speech as it sounds in literature with phonetic spelling and missing words.

Example of a Dialect

  1. Hey Y’all! (Hello everybody!)
  2. Am not gonna to do that. (I won’t do that).

Transferred epithets

When we combine two or more of these, it is called “Combining an Incongruous adjective or adverb with incongruous noun.

Examples of Transferred Epithets

  1. I was able to balance a thoughtful lump of sugar, On the teaspoon.
  2. The farmer continued to trot along the Weary Lane.

Origin of Figure of Speech ( figure of speech )

Each figure of speech is unique. It is unclear where the phrase “figures of speech” came from. Figures of speech were first used in the Bible. They have been around for hundreds years. Similes are the most common ones found in the Bible. Similes are used to substitute for one thing to another. ‘God is light’ is an example for this.

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Importance of the Figure of Speech

  1. It adds beauty to the writing. It enriches the sentence and gives the reader a sense of wonder. It gives life to the words of the writer.
  2. The figure of Speech reveals not only the writer’s intent, but also his motivation for using this language.

Figure of speech pronunciation

Here are some tips for how to pronounce figures of speech: Fig-yer of Speech

Figures of Speech vs. Figurative Language ( figure of speech )

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between the terms “figures of speech” and “figurative language.” The confusion is mostly due to the fact that people use “figurative terminology” to refer to slightly different things. These are the two most commonly used (and most accepted) definitions for figurative language.

  • Figurative language is any language that includes figures of speech. This definition suggests that figures of speech and figurative language are not the same thing. However, it is pretty close. Figures of speech are specific to a particular type of figure of speech. Figurative language is more general and can include any language that includes any kind of figures.
  • Figurative language is a term that refers to expressions or words with non-literal meanings. This definition associates figurative speech only with the tropes category of figures of spoken speech (which are figures that alter the literal meaning of words). According to this definition, figurative languages are any language that includes tropes but not the figures of speech called scheme.

Sometimes, you might come across someone using figurative language to mean one of the above. It’s impossible to know which one is correct. You’ll be able to relate figurative language and figures in speech in a way that is most familiar to you.

Figures of speech, tropes, or schemes ( figure of speech )

Splitting figures of speech into two groups is the oldest and most popular way to organize them.

  • Tropes: These are figures of speech which involve a departure from the literal and expected meanings of words.


  1. The metaphor
  2. Simile
  3. The oxymoron
  4. Hyperbole
  5. Antanaclasis
  6. Anthimeria
  7. Irony
  8. Litotes
  9. Metonymy
  10. Onomatopoeia
  11. Paradox
  12. Personification
  13. Periphrasis
  14. Pun
  15. Rhetorical Question
  16. Synecdoche
  • Schemes: These are figures of speech that go against the normal mechanics of a sentence. Schemas are mechanical. They’re figures that alter the structure, sounds and words of speech to create an effect. Schemas can be broken down into useful ways to define the type of tinkering that they are.

Repetition: Repetition of words, phrases, and sounds in a specific way.

Omission: You may leave out words or punctuation you would expect.

Modifications to word order: A typically shifting words and phrases around.

Balance: A way to create sentences or phrases that have equal parts. This is often done by using identical grammatical structures.


  1. Alliteration
  2. Assonance
  3. Ellipsis
  4. Parallelism
  5. Anadiplosis
  6. Anaphora
  7. Anastrophe
  8. Antanaclasis
  9. Antimetabole
  10. Antithesis
  11. Apostrophe
  12. Apposition
  13. Appositive
  14. Asyndeton
  15. Brachylogia
  16. Chiasmus
  17. Climax
  18. Consonance
  19. Epanalepsis
  20. Epistrophe
  21. Isocolon
  22. Parenthesis
  23. Polyptoton
  24. Polysyndeton
  25. Symploce
  26. Tricolon
  27. Zeugma

Although the scheme/trope classification system is not the only way to organize figures in speech, it is a good starting point. It however, is the most popular method and it is simple enough to be able to understand figures of speech.

Example of Figures in Speech

Language can be made more creative, beautiful, rhythmic, memorable and meaningful by figures of speech. So it shouldn’t surprise that figures of speech can be found in every type of written language. These examples show many different types of figures. Each type can be found at its own LitChart entry.

See also  active and passive voice | Active Passive Voice Rules

Literature: Examples of Figures of Speech

Literature is brimming with figures of speech, because they make language rich and complex.

Metaphor in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca

The poor thread that was once our drive continued to unravel, moving east and west. I thought it was lost at times, but it came back, perhaps under a fallen tree or fighting in the muddied ditch from the winter rains.

Rebecca quotes Daphne du Maurier, who refers to a road that is “poor thread” as a washed-out road. This is a metaphor–and a trope–because the writer indirectly compares the thread to the road and expects that readers will understand that “thread” is not used literally.

Parallelism in Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best and worst times.

Dickens used parallelism in the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities to highlight the contradictions of the period in which the book was set. Dickens altered his sentence structure to emphasize the oppositional nature his words (“it wasn’t the best, but it was the worst”) The figure of speech does not alter the meaning of words; it emphasizes them through repetition and structure.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book “The Birthmark” uses alliteration

Aylmer chose the birthmark as the symbol of his wife’s sin, sorrow, decay and death. His sombre imagination did not take long to make the birthmark a frightening object. It caused him more horror and trouble than Georgiana’s beauty of soul and sense.

The passage in “The Birthmark” uses alliteration as a way to connect all the things Georgiana’s birthmark is meant to represent. Haughtone uses alliteration to make the reader believe that these ideas are linked, instead of simply saying that they are. Alliteration can be described as a figure or speech, a scheme. It uses the mechanics and language to emphasize meaning.

Verbal Irony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Brutus is an honorable gentleman;
They are all men of honor,

Marc Antony spoke at Caesar’s funeral and this quote is from Julius Caesar. Antony needs to hold Brutus and his conspirators accountable for Caesar’s death without contradicting the crowd’s positive impression of Brutus, so Antony uses verbal irony to simultaneously please and trouble the crowd. Although Antony seems to be saying what the audience wants (that Brutus was honorable), it becomes apparent that he is actually saying the opposite. The audience then believes this meaning. Because it is based on Antony’s words, this is a trope (a figure of speech).

Example of Music Figures of Speech

Music also uses figures of speech. Songs and schemes are compatible because they both manipulate sound and rhythm to increase the meaning of words. Music uses many tropes because words with meanings other than their literal ones make language more interesting. Songwriters can create music that only uses a few words to convey a complex meaning.

In Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, Assonance and Metaphor are a part of her song.

You and I should shine bright tonight!
We are beautiful as diamonds in the sky
So alive, eye to eye
We are beautiful as diamonds in the sky

Rihanna uses assonance when she repeats the “eye” sound throughout the chorus of “Diamonds.” The words will echo each other, which highlights the similarities between Rihanna and the person she is comparing. Because it uses the sound of words, not their meaning, to draw parallels between two things, assonance is a scheme.

Rihanna also uses the phrase “Diamonds in the sky” as a metaphor for stars. This is a trope, a phrase that has a meaning other than the literal meaning. Rihanna doesn’t believe there are diamonds in heaven. This verse shows how figures of speech can sometimes overlap and work together. The metaphor she uses to substitute “stars”, “diamonds”, fits well into her use of “asonance” (since “stars lack the “eye” sound).

Personification in Green Day’s “Good Riddance”

A fork in the road is another turning point
Time grabs you by your wrist and directs you where you need to go

While the first line of this song uses “a fork stuck in the road” as a metaphor for a choice, the more arresting figure of speech at work here is the personification of time in the second line. Green Day uses “time” to describe human characteristics, such as the ability to grab someone and tell them where they should go. This is a cliché because it doesn’t actually mean what it says. Instead, it asks listeners to draw a comparison between the characteristics and characteristics of time and a person.

Anastrophe in Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”

This sucker was straight up racist
Plain and simple

Public Enemy uses anastrophe to keep the rhythm of his line “Straight-up racist that sucker was” Public Enemy uses an unusual phrase that has one stressed and two unstressed vowels instead of “That sucker was straight-up racist. “racist that sucker was/Simple and plain.” The beat will fall more frequently across these two lines. This allows the rapper (Elvis was racist) to make his point without it sounding awkward. Anastrophe alters the order words to create a rhythmic effect.

Why do writers use figures of speech? ( figure of speech )

Figures of speech are a category that covers a wide range of literary terms. It’s therefore difficult to answer this question. Different figures of speech are used by writers to achieve different effects.

Schemes are figures of speech that alter sound, syntax and word order to make language more attractive, persuasive, and memorable. Schemes are used by writers to highlight important passages, create sounds that contrast with the meaning of words or give language a rhythm that draws readers in. Schemes work by rhythm and sound, so they can have a visceral effect on the body.

Writers, on the other hand, use tropes to grab their readers intellectually. They add complexity or ambiguity (or both) to a simple phrase or word. Tropes may ask the reader to draw a comparison between two things that are not related. They can also impose human qualities upon nonhumans and can even mean the exact opposite of what they say. Because tropes are not based on language, they engage the intellect. A trope does not mean what it says.

The various figures of speech can help writers communicate ideas that are hard to put into words or are easier to convey non-verbally. You could do this by repeating harsh consonants in order to create a frightening atmosphere or by using metaphors to place the characteristics of something concrete (such as a rose) on something more difficult to describe (such as love). Figures of speech are used to evoke emotion in the reader and grab their attention by making language more interesting, surprising, and complicated.

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