Figure of Speech - Definition, Importance, Types, Examples and Benefits.

figure of speech definition importance types examples and benefits
DR Gurung

Definition of Figures of Speech:

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used in a non-literal way to create an effect. This effect may be rhetorical as in the deliberate arrangement of words to achieve something poetic, or imagery as in the use of language to suggest a visual picture or make an idea more vivid. Overall, figures of speech function as literary devices because of their expressive use of language. Words are used in other ways than their literal meanings or typical manner of application.

Importance of Figure of Speech:

  1. It enhances the beauty of the writing. It makes the sentence deeper and leaves the reader with a sense of wonder. It brings life to the words used by the writer.
  2. The figure of Speech not only shows the writers intent but also his purpose of using such language.
  3. It adds flavour to the writing and makes it so much more enjoyable for the reader.

Types of Figures of Speech:

The term figure of speech covers a wide range of literary devices, techniques, and other forms of figurative language, a few of which include:


#what is hyperbole?

Hyperbole is a figure of speech that utilizes extreme exaggeration to emphasize a certain quality or feature.

#examples of hyperbole figure of speech.

I have a million things to do.
This suitcase weighs a ton.
This room is an ice-box.
I’ll die if he doesn’t ask me on a date.
I’m too poor to pay attention.


#what is understatement?

Understatement is a figure of speech that invokes less emotion than would be expected in reaction to something. This downplaying of reaction is a surprise for the reader and generally has the effect of showing irony.

#examples of understatement figure of speech.

I heard she has cancer, but it’s not a big deal.
Joe got his dream job, so that’s not too bad.
Sue won the lottery, so she’s a bit excited.
That condemned house just needs a coat of paint.
The hurricane brought a couple of rain showers with it.


#what is paradox?

A paradox is a figure of speech that appears to be self-contradictory but actually reveals something truthful.

#examples of paradox figure of speech.

You have to spend money to save it.
What I’ve learned is that I know nothing.
You have to be cruel to be kind.
Things get worse before they get better.
The only rule is to ignore all rules.


#what is pun?

A pun is a figure of speech that contains a “play” on words, such as using words that mean one thing to mean something else or words that sound alike in as a means of changing meaning.

#examples of pun figure of speech.

A sleeping bull is called a bull-dozer.
Baseball players eat on home plates.
Polar bears vote at the North Poll.
Fish are smart because they travel in schools.
One bear told another that life without them would be grizzly.


#what is oxymoron?

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that connects two opposing ideas, usually in two-word phrases, to create a contradictory effect.

#examples of oxymoron figure of speech.

open secret
alone together
true lies
controlled chaos
pretty ugly


#what is simile?

Simile is a figure of speech in which two dissimilar things are compared to each other using the terms “like” or “as.”

#examples of simile figure of speech.

She’s as pretty as a picture.
I’m pleased as punch.
He’s strong like an ox.
You are sly like a fox.
I’m happy as a clam.


#what is metaphor?

#define metaphor.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two different things without the use of the terms “like” or “as.”

#examples of metaphor figure of speech.

He is a fish out of water.
She is a star in the sky.
My grandchildren are the flowers of my garden.
That story is music to my ears.
Your words are a broken record.


#what is euphemism?

#define euphemism.

Euphemism is a figure of speech that refers to figurative language designed to replace words or phrases that would otherwise be considered harsh, impolite, or unpleasant.

#examples of euphemism figure of speech.

Last night, Joe’s grandfather passed away (died).
She was starting to feel over the hill (old).
Young adults are curious about the birds and bees (s*x).
I need to powder my nose (go to the bathroom).
Our company has decided to let you go (fire you).


#what is personification?

#define personification.

Personification is a figure of speech that attributes human characteristics to something that is not human.

#examples of personification figure of speech.

I heard the wind whistling.
The water danced across my window.
My dog is telling me to start dinner.
The moon is smiling at me.
Her alarm hummed in the background.


#what is alliteration?

#define alliteration.

Alliteration is the repetition of the beginning sounds of neighbouring words.

In other words, the use of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words that are close together, as in sing a song of sixpence.

#examples of alliteration figure of speech.

She sells seashells.
Walter wondered where Winnie was.
Blue baby bonnets bobbed through the bayou.
Nick needed new notebooks.
Fred fried frogs' legs on Friday.


#what is anaphora?

#define anaphora.

Anaphora is a technique where several phrases or verses begin with the same word or words.

#examples of anaphora figure of speech.

I came, I saw, I conquered. - Julius Caesar
Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition! - King John II, William Shakespeare
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. - A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right. - Abraham Lincoln
We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end... we shall never surrender. - Winston Churchill


#what is assonance?

#define assonance.

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds (not just letters) in words that are close together. The sounds don't have to be at the beginning of the word.

#examples of assonance figure of speech.

A - For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore. (Poe)
E - Therefore, all seasons shall be sweet to thee. (Coleridge)
I - From what I've tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. (Frost)
O - Oh hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn. (Wordsworth)
U - Uncertain rustling of each purple curtain (Poe)


#define irony.

Irony occurs when there's a marked contrast between what is said and what is meant, or between appearance and reality.

#examples of irony figure of speech.

"How nice!" she said, when I told her I had to work all weekend. (Verbal irony)
A traffic cop gets suspended for not paying his parking tickets. (Situational irony)
The Titanic was said to be unsinkable but sank on its first voyage. (Situational irony)
Naming a tiny Chihuahua Brutus. (Verbal irony)
When the audience knows the killer is hiding in a closet in a scary movie, but the actors do not. (Dramatic irony)


#what is onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia is the term for a word that sounds like what it is describing.

#examples of onomatopoeia figure of speech.



#define synecdoche.

Synecdoche occurs when a part is represented by the whole or, conversely, the whole is represented by the part.

#examples of synecdoche figure of speech.

Wheels - a car
The police - one policeman
Plastic - credit cards
Coke - any cola drink
Hired hands – workers 


#define imagery.

Imagery means to use figurative language to represent objects, actions, and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses.

Usually it is thought that imagery makes use of particular words that create visual representation of ideas in our minds. The word “imagery” is associated with mental pictures.

#examples of imagery figure of speech.

Read the following examples of imagery carefully:

It was dark and dim in the forest.
The words “dark” and “dim” are visual images.
The children were screaming and shouting in the fields.
“Screaming” and “shouting” appeal to our sense of hearing, or auditory sense.
He whiffed the aroma of brewed coffee.
“Whiff” and “aroma” evoke our sense of smell, or olfactory sense.
The girl ran her hands on a soft satin fabric.
The idea of “soft” in this example appeals to our sense of touch, or tactile sense.
The fresh and juicy orange is very cold and sweet.
“Juicy” and “sweet” – when associated with oranges – have an effect on our sense of taste, or gustatory sense.


#what is symbolism?

#define symbolism.

Symbolism is a literary device that uses symbols, be they words, people, marks, locations, or abstract ideas to represent something beyond the literal meaning.

Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense.

#examples of symbolism figure of speech.

In our daily life, we can easily identify objects that can be taken as examples of symbolism, such as the following:

The dove is a symbol of peace.
A red rose, or the colour red, stands for love or romance.
Black is a symbol that represents evil or death.
A ladder may stand as a symbol for a connection between heaven and earth.
A broken mirror may symbolize separation. 


#what is refrain?
#examples of refrain figure of speech.

Refrain is a verse, a line, a set, or a group of lines that appears at the end of stanza, or appears where a poem divides into different sections. It originated in France, where it is popular as, refraindre, which means “to repeat.” Refrain is a poetic device that repeats, at regular intervals, in different stanzas. However, sometimes, this repetition may involve only minor changes in its wording. It also contributes to the rhyme of a poem and emphasizes an idea through repetition.

Here are some ways that writers benefit from incorporating figures of speech into their work:

Figure of Speech as Artistic Use of Language

Effective use of figures of speech is one of the greatest demonstrations of artistic use of language. Being able to create poetic meaning, comparisons, and expressions with these literary devices is how writers form art with words.

Figure of Speech as Entertainment for Reader

Effective figures of speech often elevate the entertainment value of a literary work for the reader. Many figures of speech invoke humour or provide a sense of irony in ways that literal expressions do not. This can create a greater sense of engagement for the reader when it comes to a literary work.

Figure of Speech as Memorable Experience for Reader

By using effective figures of speech to enhance description and meaning, writers make their works more memorable for readers as an experience. Writers can often share a difficult truth or convey a particular concept through figurative language so that the reader has a greater understanding of the material and one that lasts in memory.

DR Gurung
A Learner (अज्ञान जस्तो ठूलो शत्रु अरु केही छैन।) 🙏🙏
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