This is the beginning of a metanode about rhetoric, the branch of knowledge dealing with the mechanics of style and delivery of orations. Rhetoric is a large and highly technical subject with a distinctively difficult vocabulary. It is the vocabulary that I will focus on here. I will add terms to this metanode only when nodes are available to them to link to. Although the metanode is still in progress, I would appreciate hearing suggestions for further additions.

The first major codifying text in the Western tradition is Aristotle's (384-322 B.C.E.) Rhetoric and the second great theoretician was Quintilian (c. 35 C.E. - c. 95). Because rhetoric as we know it originated in classical Greece and Rome, it uses an abundance of Greek terms, giving it the appearance of great obscurity.

Do not fear the complex vocabulary. The overarching purpose of rhetoric is to enable the speaker or writer to communicate, and especially to persuade, as effectively as possible. The Greeks distinguished three basic functions of rhetoric:

It seems to me that the epideictic function has the widest and most theoretical interest.

Ordinarily, we speak about "rhetorical figures", rather than rhetorical terms or devices. That is one of the conceits of the field. “Figure” renders the Latin figura, “form”, “shape”.

Figures involving examples or appeal to authority

  1. chreia
  2. deesis
  3. ethos
  4. proverb

Figures involving irony: untrue or exaggerated representations or implications

  1. antiphrasis
  2. epitrope
  3. erotema ~ rhetorical question
  4. hyperbole
  5. litotes
  6. oxymoron
  7. paradox
  8. paraleipsis

Figures involving other kinds of trope

  1. metaphor
  2. simile
  3. synecdoche
  4. metonymy
  5. personification

Figures involving insertion, deletion, or juxtaposition of words or parts of words

  1. apocope; see also apocopated rhyme
  2. diacope ~ tmesis
  3. ellipsis
  4. hendiadys
  5. syncope
  6. zeugma

Figures involving syllable length and poetic meter

  1. diaeresis (also has typographic usage)
  2. diastole (also has medical usage)
  3. melisma
  4. synaeresis
  5. systole (also has medical usage)

Figures involving praise and blame

  1. encomium
  2. vituperation

Temporarily unclassified figures
(this portion of the material is still in progress)

  1. anamnesis
  2. antimetabole
  3. epistrophe
  4. isocolon
  5. paremia / paroemia
  6. paronomasia
  7. pleonasm

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