A figure of speech is a word or phrase using figurative language—language that has other meaning than its normal definition. In other words, figures of speeches rely on implied or suggested meaning, rather than a dictionary definition. We express and develop them through hundreds of different rhetorical techniques, from specific types like metaphors and similes, to more general forms like sarcasm and slang.
Major Types with Examples
A simile is a figure of speech that uses comparison. In a simile, we use two specific words “like” and “as” to compare two unlikely things, that actually have nothing in common. This is done to bring out the dramatic nature of the prose and invoke vivid images and comparisons. It is one of the most common forms of a figure of speech and is used in everything from day-to-day talk to poems.
Let us see some examples of simile. “She is as brave as a lion”. Here you will notice a girl and her bravery are being compared to a lion. this is an unusual and illogical comparison, but it brings out the vivid imagery and lyrical quality in the sentence. The literal sentence would have read “She is brave”, but using the simile makes it sound much better. Other such examples can be
quite like a mouse
as tall as a mountain
as strong as an ox
precious like an angel
A metaphor and a simile are quite similar actually. A metaphor also uses compares to things that are in no way similar. It does so to bring out the symbolism. A metaphor is a word or phrase used to show its similarity to another thing. It helps to explain an idea, but if you take a metaphor at its literal meaning it will sound absurd.
An example of a metaphor is “Alex is a chicken”. Literally, this sounds so very absurd. But this is a metaphor which suggests that Alex is a coward, or frightened. It compares or implies that Alex is a chicken to bring out the symbolism. Some other examples are ‘love is a battlefield”, “all the world’s a stage”, “that technology is a dinosaur” etc.
Another very interesting figure of speech is personification. In this, we personify or represent a non-human entity as human. We give an inanimate object or an intangible idea of some human qualities such as emotions, or gestures or even speech. this is done to portray the object as alive and help the listener or reader paint a vivid picture. Again, if we take the words at their literal meaning they will sound absurd.
“The wind howled as the storm grew stronger”. Here we have taken an object, the wind, and personified it as a living thing by claiming it howled. Other such examples could be, “time ran away from him”, “the boat danced in the puddle”, “the car died in the middle of the road” etc.
Hyperbole in the Greek language translates to ‘excess’. And that is what it does, it exaggerates. We use hyperboles to emphasize the importance or overstate something. This exaggerates claims and statements are never meant to be taken at their literal meaning. They are used to create a strong and lasting impression
An example would be “Since he has been away from home he has gotten as thin as a toothpick “. Obviously, he has not gotten as thin as a toothpick, we only exaggerate to emphasize on how thin he has become. Some other examples are, “Those shoes cost a king’s ransom”, “For the millionth time, clean the kitchen”, “his grandfather is older than the hills”.
The repetition of an initial consonant sound. Example: She sells seashells by the seashore.
The repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses. Example: Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time on the wrong day.
The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases. Example: As Abraham Lincoln said, “Folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
Directly addressing a nonexistent person or an inanimate object as though it were a living being. Example: “Oh, you stupid car, you never work when I need you to,” Bert sighed.
Identity or similarity in sound between internal vowels in neighboring words. Example: How now, brown cow?
A verbal pattern in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed. Example: The famous chef said people should live to eat, not eat to live.
The substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit. Example: “We’re teaching our toddler how to go potty,” Bob said.