English Figures of Speech and Literary Devices

Here are all English Figures of Speech and Literary Devices with definitions and examples to make your English language rich and effective.

Figures of Speech or Literary Devices

Definition -Figure of speech is a special course of expression of writing or the use of special words to beautify the language.

Types of figures of speech:

1.Simile – A simile is a figure of speech in which two different things which have at least one thing in common, are compared with the help of words of comparison. i.e (like, as, such), etc.

Examples:

  1. Life is like a dream.
  2. Night is dark as a black stone.
  3. I wandered lonely as a cloud.
  4. Words are like leaves.

2. Metaphor – A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a thing is directly supposed to be another one.

                                   OR

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which two different things, which have at least one thing in common, are compared without the words of comparison.

Examples:

  • Life is a dream.
  • Camel is the ship of the desert.
  • Sweet actions are the spice of life.
  • Revenge is a kind of wild justice.
  • The world is a stage.

3. Personification – Personification is a figure of speech in which, non-living things or abstract nouns are used as living beings.

Examples:

  • Anxiety is sitting on her face.
  • Love is blind.
  • Truth sits upon the lips of a dying man.
  • Opportunity knocks at the door but once.
  • Authority forget a dying king.

4. Apostrophe – Apostrophe is a figure of speech in which non-living things, abstract nouns, dead person, or abstract noun is addressed in a such way as he is present in front of the speaker.

Examples:

  • O, Milton! Thou should be living at this hour.
  • O Death! Where is thy sting?
  • O Solitude! Where are thy Charms?
  • O Grave! Where is thy victory?
  • O Friend! I know not which way I must look for comfort.

5. Hyperbole – Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which things are shown as greater or smaller, better or worse than they actually are.

Examples:

  1. She wept an ocean of tears.
  2. The rivers of blood flowed in the battlefield.
  3. Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?
  4. Balinda smiled and all the world become happy.
  5. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.

6. Oxymoron – An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which, two opposite qualities of a thing are put together in a sentence.

Example:

  1. He is regularly irregular.
  2. Life is full of sorrow & happiness.
  3. He is idly busy.
  4. Love is bitter-sweet.
  5. And having nothing he had all.

7. Paradox – Paradox is a figure of speech in which an idea completely contradicts (opposite) in itself in the same sentence.

Examples:

  1. Death is the beginning of life.
  2. War is peace.
  3. Ignorance is strength.
  4. Freedom is slavery.

8. Antithesis – Antithesis is a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are put in two different clauses.

Examples:

  1. Man proposes and God disposes.
  2. Speech is silvern, but silence is golden.
  3. To err is human, to forgive is divine.
  4. Give everyone thy ear, but few thy voice.

9. Onomatopoeia – Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech in which the sound of birds, animals, insects, or natural objects suggests its meaning.

Examples: i. Dogs bark at strangers.

                ii. Cat mews.

               iii. Mr. Lamb heard the humming sound of bees.

10. Alliteration – In this figure of speech, the consonant sound in the beginning of the words is repeated.

Examples: i. She sells sea shells on the sea shore.

                ii. Full fathom five his father lies.

11. Assonance – In this figure of speech, the repetition of vowel sounds occurs in a sentence.

Examples: i. True, I do like sue.

               ii. Bind up, Bind up, your yellow hair.

             iii. The light of the fire is a sight.

12. Pun – In this literary device, a homonym (a word with more than one meaning) is used to denote two different meanings and both meanings fit the situation.

Examples: i. An ambassador is an honest man who lies abroad for the sake of his country.

               ii. Is life worth living? It depends on the liver.

13. Repetition – Repetition is the figure of speech, in which the Same word is repeated without any other word in between.

Examples: i. Smile, smile, smile

                ii. Break, break, break

14. Consonance – Consonance is a figure of speech, in which the consonant sound at the end of the words is repeated.

Examples: i. Reader, raider, rider

                ii. Linger, longer. languor.

              iii. Mike likes his new bike.

15. Anadiplosis – Anadiplosis is a literary device, in which the last word of the clause or sentence is repeated at the beginning of the next clause or sentence.

Example: i. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task.

              ii. Talent is an ornament, and an ornament is also in the concealment.

            iii. Transparent policies show honesty, honesty is the best policy.

16. Anagram – is a literary device, in which the writer jumbles up the part or letters of a word to create a new word.

Examples: i.”Debit card” is the “Bad credit”.

                ii. The earthquakes = The queer shakes.

17.Anaphora – Anaphora is a literary device, in which the beginning clause or phrase of a sentence is repeated in the next sentence.

Examples: i. We shall come to school. We shall gather in the prayer ground. We shall celebrate Independence day on 15th August.

                ii. Stay safe. Stay well. Stay happy.

18. Anastrophe – Anastrophe is a literary device, in which the order of and noun in a sentence is exchanged.

Examples: i. He chooses flowers purple and red.

                ii. He talked of times past and future.

19. Euphemism – Euphemism is a literary device, in which a harsh or hard-sounding thing is represented with soft-sounding words.

Examples:

He has fallen asleep.

You are telling me a fairy tale.

20. Climax – Climax is a literary device, in which the ideas are arranged in order of increasing importance.

Examples: i. I came, I saw, I conquered.

                 ii. To gossip is a fault, to like a crime, to slander, a sin.

21. Anticlimax – Anticlimax is a literary device, in which the ideas are arranged in order of decreasing order.

Examples: i. And thou, Dalhousie, the great god of war, Lieutenant Colonel to the Earl of war.

                ii. Soldier fights for the glory and a shilling a day.

22. Rhetorical Question (Interrogation)-  It is a literary device, in which an affirmation is made in the form of interrogation to enhance the effect but this interrogation does not demand any answer.

Examples: i. Am I my brother’s keeper?

                ii. Who is here so vile that will not love his country?

              iii. Who does not know the name of Mahatma Gandhi?

23. Litotes – Litotes is a literary device, in which an affirmation is represented by the negation of the opposite.

Examples: i. He is not a fool. He can understand your plan.

                ii. I am not a little surprised.

              iii. I am a citizen of no mean city.

24. Transferred Epithet – Transferred epithet is a literary device, in which an Adjective is not used with the word it qualifies but is used with the other word which it never can qualify.

Examples: i. He passed sleepless nights.

                ii. Let us speak our free hearts each to each.

              iii. The plowman homeward plods the wrong way.

             iv. A lucky presented an obsequious cup of coffee.

25. Metonymy – Metonymy is a literary device, in which an object is not represented by its real name but it is represented by another object associated with it.

Examples: i. The white house announced the lockdown for a month.

               ii. Pen is mightier than the sword.

             iii. We have read Shakespeare.

             iv. India has won the match.

             v. Sceptre and crown must be tumble down.

26. Synecdoche – Synecdoche is a literary device, in which a part is used to represent the whole or the whole is used to represent a part.

Examples: i. I have bought a new set of wheels {A car}

                ii. India has many mouths to feed

               iii. All the best brains of the class could not solve the sum.

              iv. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

27. Irony – Irony is a literary device, in which the real meaning is exactly opposite of that which is literally conveyed.

Examples: i. I must be taught my duty, and by you.

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