What is Figure of Speech?

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that possesses a separate meaning from its literal definition. It uses figurative language—language that has other meaning than its normal definition.The endless ocean of English language is full of these literary tools. Figures of speech can be noticed in many poetries, prose,fictions, articles, songs, magazines and other literary works. This article will elaborate some of them:

1. Simile

It is used to compare two things which have at least one point in common. It is denoted by the words as: like and as.

For example- She moved like a deer.
As big as an elephant.
Our soldiers are as brave as lions.
He is as cunning as a fox.
“My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You
never know what you’re gonna get.” — Forrest Gump

2. Metaphor

A word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. In other words, metaphor directly states comparison. It does not use words like: as and like. For example –

The sun is a golden ball.
The world is a stage.

In above lines sun is directly compared to a golden ball. Likewise, world is compared to a stage without using like and as.

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the
east, and Juliet is the sun!”      —Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

“Her mouth was a fountain of delight.” —The Storm, Kate Chopin

3. Personification

In personification, human characteristics are assigned to inanimate or non-human objects. Let’s look at some examples for better understanding

For example- The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky.
The thunder grumbled like an old man.
The stars winked at each other in the dark.
The books murmured their stories from her shelf.

In above lines, although the stars cannot dance, thunder cannot
grumble, stars can’t wink or books cannot murmur but these inanimate
objects are given human characteristics to make it more creative and
impressive. Personification can be seen in poetries or plays.

4. Hyperbole

In hyperbole, a statement is made emphatic by overstatement.

For example- The shopping cost me a million dollars.
The suitcase weighed a ton.
She is as big as an elephant!
I had to wait in the station for ten days– an eternity.  -“Heart of Darkness”

5. Oxymoron

Here, two contradictory qualities are predicted at once of the same thing.
For example
My trip to Bali was very much a working holiday.
The comedian was seriously funny.
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.” – Macbeth

6. Irony

It is a literary technique in which the real meaning is exactly
opposite to what is conveyed. It also gives a humorous tone.

For Example- His friend’s hand was as soft as a rock.
The cobbler’s children have no shoes.
A pilot has a fear of heights.

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”  -The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (By Samuel Coleridge)

“Go ask his name: if he be married.
My grave is like to be my wedding bed.” -Romeo and Juliet (By William Shakespeare)

7. Transferred epithet

 Epithet- it is an adjective which describes a
For ex- “Good morning”
“wonderful day”
In this figure of speech an epithet is transferred from its
proper word to another that is closely associated with it
in the sentence.

For Example- He pointed an angry finger at me.
 It is not finger which is angry, it is ‘he’ who is angry.
He passed a sleepless night.
 So here, it’s not the night which is sleepless it is ‘he’
who is not able to sleep at night.

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