Encyclopedia > Figure of speech

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Figure of speech

A figure of speech, sometimes termed a rhetorical figure, or elocution[?], is a word or phrase that departs from straight-forward, literal language. It deals with Etymology, the study of the origin and use of words.

Figures of speech are often used and crafted for emphasis, freshness of expression or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from their use.

Note that not all theories of meaning necessarily have a concept of "literal language". (See Literal and figurative language.) Under theories that do not, figure of speech is not an entirely coherent concept.

An example of the figurative use of a word can be given by the word crown. If you say: I am going to crown you., does that mean:

  • I am going to place a literal crown on your head.
  • I am going to symbolically exalt you to the place of kingship.
  • I am going to knock your head off.

Figures of speech have been classified into a number of different categories. These include:



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