10 Basic Figures of Speech – An Easy Guide

07 Feb 10 Basic Figures of Speech – An Easy Guide


The use of figure of speech in creative writing gives ideas or sentiments a unique perspective. It involves a deviation from the more commonly used form of word order or sentence construction. Writers usually employ such figures of speech embellish their composition.

This article is attempted to throw light on various figures of speech that will help you realize how you can craft your writing to meet your expectations.

1. Simile

It is a specific comparison made by means words such as “like” or “as” between two kinds of objects. “Reason is to faith as the eye to the telescope”, an example of simile.

2. Metaphor

It uses a word or phrase denoting one kind of idea in place of other word or phrase in order to suggest a likeness between the two.

3. Anticlimax

It involves a series of ideas that suddenly diminish in importance at the end of a sentence or passage. It is used to bring satirical effect.

4. Antithesis

It is a juxtaposition of two words, phrases, clauses, or sentences contrasted in meaning to offer emphasis to contrasting ideas. “To err is human, to forgive divine”, is a fine example of antithesis.

5. Climax

It is an arrangement of words, clauses, or sentences in the order of their significance. The least powerful comes first and the others. “It is an outrage to bind a Roman citizen; it is a crime to scourge him; it is almost parricide to kill him; but to crucify him-what shall I say of this?” This particular example rightly tells what climax means.

6. Conceit

It is an elaborate and often extravagant metaphor. It makes an analogy between totally dissimilar things. The term originally means concept or idea. Conceits were widely used in the 17th-century metaphysical poetry. In “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”, John Donne uses it where the image of the joined arms of a pair of compasses is used to demonstrate the attachment of a pair of lovers; even when one makes s move, the two are attached closely being one.

7. Euphemism

It involves substitution of an inoffensive term or phrase for one that has coarse or sordid unpleasant associations, for instance in the use of words like “toilet” for “lavatory”, and “pass away” for “die”.

8. Hyperbole

It is a form of inordinate exaggeration. It means a person or thing is portrayed as being better or worse than the actual one. For example, “Dr. Jonathan drank his tea in oceans”.

9. Irony

It is humorous or lightly sarcastic mode of speech. Words are used here to convey a meaning contrary to their literal meaning.

10. Personification

It involves representation of inanimate or abstract ideas as living beings. The sentence, “Necessity is the mother of invention” can help you make out this idea better.

The close study of these figures of speech will help you understand the sense of crafting your ideas and imagination in creating fine piece of literature, poetry or other mode of writing.


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