A rhetorical device is a word or phrase used to persuade the audience or to convey meaning. Quite often, rhetorical devices are used to evoke certain emotions. Good writers use various rhetorical devices to achieve different effects. There are also rhetorical devices that fall in the category of figurative language because they use certain phrases and words in a non-literal way. Here are some examples of common rhetorical devices that you can use in your writing.
Alliteration relies on similar consonant sounds. For example, the phrase “rubber baby buggy bumpers” uses alliteration. Alliteration is often used by brands, for example, Krispy Kreme, American Apparel, or Best Buy.
Allusion refers to a certain well-known event, person, or place so that the writer doesn’t need to explain something in detail. For example, you might say: “I can’t do it so quickly, I’m not Superman.”
Amplification implies repeating a certain phrase or word to emphasize some ideas. For example, amplification is used in the phrase “Love, real love, is priceless.”
An analogy explains something using similarities between two different objects or ideas. A good example of an analogy is the phrase “He’s flaky as a snowstorm.” Well-known analogies are also called figures of speech and idioms.
Anaphora means repeating phrases in different sentences. Here’s an example from Shakespeare: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?” This rhetorical device helps in creating a certain rhythm, which is a reason why anaphora is very popular in poetry and music.
Antanagoge implies combining criticism with a compliment, for example: “This car is old but it runs great.” This approach allows you to minimize the impact of criticism.
This rhetorical device also relies on repeating phrases but in reverse order. The most famous example of antimetabole is John F. Kennedy’s phrase “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
Antiphrasis means combining words with opposite meanings to create a humorous effect. Here’s an example of antiphrasis: “We call our huge offensive lineman Tiny Joe.”
Antithesis compares or connects two different things. An example of antithesis is Neil Armstrong’s phrase “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
An appositive implies using different nouns next to each other to describe a subject or situation. Here’s an example: “Harry, the owner of the house, demonstrated the famous Southern hospitality.”
Enumeratio implies using details to provide a better description, for example: “Our new hotel includes a pool, spa, lounge, and tennis court.”
When using epanalepsis, a writer repeats the same word at the beginning and at the end. An example of this rhetorical device is the Walmart slogan “Always low prices. Always.”
An epithet refers to a certain quality of a person or object. For example, King Richard I was also known as Richard the Lionheart. Today, epithets are often used in the offensive context, referring to someone’s sexual orientation, race, gender, etc.
Epizeuxis means repeating the same word to emphasize an idea. For example, you may say “This vacation was great, great, great” to emphasize how happy you are about it.
Hyperbole is all about exaggeration. For example, if you say “I’ve seen this movie a million times,” it will be hyperbole.
Litotes allow you to make an understatement, emphasizing something positive using a negative. Quite often, litotes include a double negative. For example, you may say that somebody is “not a bad writer” to explain that you’ve enjoyed their book.
This rhetorical device qualifies or corrects a statement. For example, you may say “They have the best burgers in this town – no, scratch that – in the entire world!”
One of the most common rhetorical devices, a metaphor states that one thing is another thing, pointing out the similarities between them. An example of a metaphor is “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” Obviously, these two things are completely different but you can look into someone’s eyes and see their mood as if you looked out a window.
This rhetorical device is a type of metaphor which implies comparing something with a thing that is closely associated with it. For example, the phrase “power of the pen” is metonymy because it refers to a writer’s ability to inspire and persuade.
Onomatopoeia means using words that imitate sounds, such as “bang,” “pop,” “plunk,” etc. This rhetorical device is especially popular in poetry because it allows you to refer to an experience that is familiar to everyone. Everyone has heard the “splash” of water or “jingle” of car keys.
An oxymoron involves a paradox created by two words. For example, “seriously funny” or “near miss.” Oxymorons are often used for dramatic purposes and are also called contradictions.
Parallelism means using phrases with similar structures. For example, the phrase “like father, like son” demonstrates parallelism. This approach also helps to make your writing more balanced and symmetrical.
A simile is a comparison. An example of a simile is “He smokes like a chimney.” Many people confuse similes with metaphors, but these two rhetorical devices have different structures. Similes include words “as” or “like,” while metaphors just state the similarity.
This rhetorical device implies making something less important than it actually is. For example, “The hurricane damaged my car a little” is an understatement because hurricanes destroy cars and homes.
Now that you know how different rhetorical devices work, you can use them to make your writing and your speeches more persuasive and interesting. These methods will help you impress the audience and create memorable content.