In a general sense, a figure of speech can be defined as the words or phrases used in a figurative manner. It is a language that uses words or phrases in a unique way, different from ordinary.
However, there are various types of figures of speech. Each has unique features that try to use words and phrases differently and decoratively. So, let us get into a quick discussion below and enlighten ourselves about them.
What is Figure of Speech?
A figure of speech can be generally defined as a deviation from the normal use of words or phrases in grammar. It is basically a figurative language containing words that are expressed in a non-literal sense. The basic aim is to make the sentence or the phrase look rich in content and extraordinary while conveying the exact meaning the speaker wants.
In short, we can state that a figure of speech is a phrase or a word used in a figurative manner to describe something interestingly and uniquely. Here, the words may not mean exactly what they indicate but convey a clear message to the readers. Thus, they are said to be a non-literal and rhetorical sense of using words and phrases. This is also the very reason why a figure of speech is also known as a rhetorical figure.
Types of figure of speech
There are around a hundred types of figures of speech in the English language. For now, let us discuss 24 common types and look at their examples below.
- Irony or Sarcasm
- Transferred epithets
Simile is one of the most common types of figures of speech in the English language. It is a type that takes two unlike things and directly compares them to one another. A simile is introduced by words such as as, so, like, etc.
“As hot as the sun”
- The cup of coffee is as hot as the sun.
- She danced like a peacock in the party.
This is another common type of figure of speech. This is basically an implied or informal simile that does not use the words such as as or like. Here, a word or a phrase is applied to another to indicate their likeliness but is not literally applicable.
- The sound of the rain is music to my ears.
- You are a diamond.
Here, the words do not literally make the situation true. It is just a symbolic language.
This is a type of figure of speech that gives a non-living thing or a non-human thing the personality or qualities of a human or a living thing. That means personification basically attributes human characters to an inanimate object or an abstract notion.
- The angry clouds rained heavily on the earth.
- The car protested as it started slowly.
This is a type of figure of speech where the speaker directly addresses an inanimate object, an idea, or someone who is absent or doesn’t exist as if they were present or is a living thing.
- Oh, coffee, please keep me awake tonight!
This is a type of figure of speech where there is a repetition of the beginning letter of two or more words in a sentence. Basically, it consists of a sound or letter repetition of a series of words.
- She sells seashells on the seashore.
This is a type where two words having completely contradictory meanings are used or combined together.
- College life is bittersweet.
- I guess they wanted to stay alone together.
Hyperbole is where one person exaggerates the meaning of a word or the statement in order to bring a stronger effect to it. It used to emphasize something.
- I have called you a million times.
Pun is generally used in a humorous way. It is a type that plays around words that have the same sound or have multiple meanings.
- The cycle is two-tired to stand on its own.
This is a big word. But this is basically a type of figure of speech that consists of words that are used to describe a sound. So, these are words that imitate the sound of something.
- Ding-dong! The clown is here.
Analogy is a figure of speech that compares two different things to bring out the point of their similarity.
- Cub is to bear as kitten is to cat.
It is a figure of speech where a series of words or phrases is arranged in ascending or increasing order based on their importance.
- “To infinity and beyond”
This is a type where instead of mentioning something obvious, a word or phrase opposite to the fact is used.
- I don’t hate this dress.
This is a type where a particular thing is described in a roundabout manner instead of mentioning it directly.
- Our Lord in heaven, our holy father (God)
It is a type where we use two different words to repeat the same thing twice.
- He made the handmade cake himself.
It is a clever and satirical phrase or statement that expresses something paradoxical, amusing, or ingenious idea.
- I can avoid anything but food.
16. Irony or Sarcasm
It is a humorous speech type that uses words contrary to the intended meaning.
- Ice cream has no ice on it.
This is a type where there is a striking contrast between two words used in a sentence.
- Many are called, only few are chosen.
This is where there is a repetition of vowel sounds in a phrase.
- He receives emails each day.
Here, there is a repetition of consonant sounds in a phrase.
- The painter painted a pink peacock.
This is a type where a word or phrase is used with an exclamation mark to emphasize an emotion.
- Ah! We finally won.
This is a type that involves rhetorical questions to simply give a dramatic effect instead of actually seeking an answer.
- Am I a fool to love you?
22. Transferred epithets
This is a type where an adjective or a qualifying objective used to describe one thing is directly transferred to another.
- It was a sleepless night.
This is a type where we use words or expressions in favour of someone as an alternative to a harsh word because of the unpleasant reality.
- Passed away (die)
It is a type where the name of an object is replaced with another word that is closely related to the original.
- Crown for a king
These are the common types of figures of speech. Each has its own structure and purpose.