Main      Site Guide    
Fun With Words

Glossary of Linguistics and Rhetoric

a vowel change that accompanies a change in grammatical function. Same as "gradation." Sing, sang, and sung.
the part of morphology that deals with the inflections of words. See also: morphology.
pretended refusal of something desired.
a variety of language that is closest to a standard main language, especially in an area where a creole is also spoken. Standard Jamaican English, where Jamaican Creole is also spoken. See also: creole.
an expression that carries both an obvious meaning and a second, subtler meaning.
characteristic of an adnoun. See also: adnoun.
assigning to a proper name its literal or homophonic meaning; also, paronomasia or polyptoton. Same as "prosonomasia." See also: aptronym, paragram, paronomasia, polyptoton.
the use of an adjective as a noun. Blessed are the merciful. See also: adnominal.
a declaration of impossibility, usually expressed as an exaggerated comparison with a more obvious impossibility. "I will sooner have a beard grow in the palm of my hand than he shall get one of his cheek." -- William Shakespeare.
inability to read, usually caused by brain lesions; word blindness. See also: aphasia, dysgraphia.
repetition of the same sound beginning several words placed close together, usually adjacent. See also: assonance, consonance, parechesis, paroemion.
the expression of spoken sounds by an alphabet.
a word, phrase, or sentence written in such a way that it reads the same way upside down as right side up.
See: melioration.
See: amphiboly.
ambiguous discourse; amphibology.
a change in a grammatical construction within the same sentence. "And these socks -- are they mine also?" See also: synesis.
one or more unstressed syllables at the beginning of a line of verse, before the normal meter begins.
rhetorical repetition of one or more words, particularly a word at the end of a clause. "Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business." -- Francis Bacon. See also: anaphora, epistrophe, symploce.
a rearrangement of a group of letters, especially a word that can be formed by rearranging the letters in another word.
repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France; we shall fight on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air; we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches; we shall fight on the landing grounds; we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender." -- Winston Churchill. See also: anadiplosis, epistrophe, symploce.
the process by which a new word is formed by inserting a vowel sound between successive consonants in an older word. See also: dissimilation, epenthesis, haplology, metathesis, paragoge.
transposition or inversion of normal word order; a type of hyperbaton. "Once upon a midnight dreary..." -- Edgar Allan Poe. "The helmsman steered; the ship moved on; yet never a breeze up blew." -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge. See also: hyperbaton, synchysis.
repetition of a word whose meaning changes in the second instance. "Your argument is sound...all sound." -- Benjamin Franklin.
substitution of one part of speech for another, most often a noun used as a verb.
the use of a word or phrase contrary to its normal meaning for ironic or humorous effect. A mere babe of 60 years.
substitution of one sound, syllable, or letter within a word for another, frequently to accomplish a pun; a type of metaplasm. See also: metaplasm.
the repetition of words in an inverse order. "The master of the servant and the servant of the master."
contrast of opposing words or ideas in a parallel construction. "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." -- Barry Goldwater.
the substitution of a title or epithet for a proper name. "Yes, Your Majesty." Also, the substitution of a personal name for a common noun. "You're a Benedict Arnold." See also: honorific.
a word which is the opposite of another. "General," which is the antonym of "specific." See also: contronym, synonym.
Loss of the initial portion of a word. For example, cause from because; specially from especially. See also: apocope.
partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, usually due to damage inflicted on the brain by injury or disease. See also: alexia, dysgraphia, paraphasia.
mispronouncing a word by dropping one or more initial, usually unstressed syllables. "'cept" instead of "except." See also: aphetic.
characteristic of aphesis. See also: aphesis.
loss of the final portion of a word. For example, info from information; cinema from cinematograph. See also: aphaeresis.
replying to one's own arguments.
mentioning something by declaring that it shall not be mentioned. Same as "paralepsis" and "preterition." "I need not remind you to get your Christmas shopping done early." See also: autoclesis, parasiopesis.
expression of doubt, usually feigned, about what the speaker should say, think, or do. "Oh no! Whatever shall I do now?"
a halting or trailing off of speech caused by the speaker seemingly overcome by an emotion such as excitement, fear, or modesty; a form of brachylogy. "When your father finds out...." See also: brachylogy.
addressing an alternate audience midstream, whether that audience be a person, group, or abstraction, present or absent.
the juxtaposition of two nouns, the second of which clarifies the first. "The man, a leather-clad hoodlum, bolted from the scene when the police showed up."
a name aptly suited to its owner, often because the name applies in more than one sense. "Mr. Calamity had a unique penchant for causing destruction wherever he went." See also: adnominatio.
usage of an older, often obsolete form of language
the jargon of a group or class; slang.
repetition of the same sound in multiple words placed close to each other, often adjacent. See also: alliteration, consonance, parechesis.
lack of conjunctions between coordinate words, phrases, or clauses; a form of brachylogy. "But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground." -- Abraham Lincoln. See also: brachylogy, polysyndeton.
introducing an idea or subject by seeming to refuse discussion of it, thereby arousing interest. See also: apophasis, parasiopesis.
a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that self-documents its letter content.
coarsely abusive language.
to speak or write pompously and windily.
abbreviated or condensed expression, often by omitting words that can be determined by the surrounding context. See also: aposiopesis, asyndeton, zeugma.
an expression that is deliberately foul or ill-sounding.
poor handwriting; also, incorrect spelling.
poor choice of words; also, incorrect pronunciation.
See: dysphemism.
juxtaposition of harsh sounds.
an expression introduced into one language by translating it from another language. Same as "loan translation." "Superman," from the German word "Ubermensch." See also: loan translation, loanword, Wanderwort.
harsh metaphor involving the use of a word beyond its normal function, usually incorrectly. See also: metaphor.
use of a pronoun or other linguistic unit to refer to a word used later. "Him," in, "I nudged him, but George did not wake."
corresponding pairs not matched in parallel but inverted or crossed (a-b-b-a, rather than a-b-a-b). The word derives from the Greek letter chi (X). "Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always." -- Douglas MacArthur.
a collection of choice literary passages, especially to help in learning a language.
an inscribed phrase in which certain letters can be read as Roman numerals. "ChrIstVs DVX; ergo trIVMphVs," which is the motto of a medal struck by Gustavus Adolphus; the capital letters, when added as numerals, indicate the year 1632.
the use of indirect language or roundabout expressions; evasion in speech or writing. See also: cledonism, periphrasis.
use of circumlocution to avoid speaking words deemed unlucky. See also: circumlocution.
arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in increasing order of power
dwelling on or returning to one's strongest argument.
the repetition of consonants or consonant patterns, especially at the ends of words. Same as "consonant rhyme." See also: alliteration, assonance, parechesis.
consonant rhyme
See: consonance.
characteristic of an assertion that can be definitively judged true or false.
a word which is its own opposite. "Cleave," meaning "adhere" and "separate." See also: antonym.
uncontrolled, excessive use of obscene or scatological language, sometimes accompanying certain mental disorders.
a copulative word. See also: copulative.
syntactically connecting coordinate words or clauses; also, a copulative word or group of words. "And," which is a copulative conjunction, and "be," which is a linking verb. See also: copula.
a contraction of two vowels, usually the final and initial vowels of consecutive words, into one long vowel or diphthong.
a language that originates from two other languages and has features of both. See also: acrolect.
a constructor of crossword puzzles; also, an enthusiast of word games, especially crossword puzzles.
a language consisting of words or phrases understandable only between two twins and which is usually developed as the twins grow up together.
characteristic of a word whose reference depends on the circumstances of its use; also, a deictic word. "This," which means nothing outside of context.
the pronunciation of adjacent vowels separately. "Naive."
an ambiguous speech.
a speech sound in which one vowel gradually changes to another vowel within the same syllable. "Oi" in "boil," and "ou" in "out." See also: syneresis.
serving to establish a relationship of contrast or opposition; also, a disjunctive conjunctive. "But," in "The youth was spirited but naive."
the process by which one of two similar sounds in a word becomes less like the other. "Marble," an English word derived from the French word "marbre" by the process of dissimilation. See also: anaptyxis, epenthesis, haplology, metathesis, paragoge.
a letter or word repeated unintentionally in writing or copying.
two distinct interpretations of the same text.
the aptitude for putting one's foot in one's mouth.
impairment of the ability to write, usually caused by brain dysfunction or disease. See also: alexia, aphasia, dyslalia.
impairment of the ability to speak due to defective speech organs. See also: dysgraphia.
a learning disorder distinguished by impaired ability to recognize and comprehend written words.
substitution of a mild expression with a harsher one; opposite of "euphemism"; cacophemism. See also: euphemism.
a speech impairment characterized by a loss of control of intonation and rhythm.
an abnormality in an otherwise normal rhythmic pattern, as the meter in a line of verse.
inserting a word in the middle of another in an unlikely or unexpected place; a form of tmesis. "Unbe-freaking-lievable." See also: tmesis.
the immediate and involuntary repetition of words or phrases just spoken by others, often a symptom of autism or some types of schizophrenia.
the omission of a letter or syllable. "Don't" instead of "do not."
the omission of words in a sentence needed to complete an idea explicitly. "I took my son to the barber and my daughter to the hairdresser."
See: embololalia.
interpolation of meaningless sounds or words into speech. Same as "embolalia."
substitution of one part of speech, gender, number case, person, tense, mode, or voice for another. The royal "we," as a substitute for "I." See also: nosism.
a word or syllable which is joined with the preceding word in such a way as to lose its own independent accent. "Prithee," which is a shortening of "pray thee," and "'em," in, "Get 'em!". See also: proclitic, synaloepha.
characteristic of a reference to something outside the speech or text in which the reference occurs. See also: exophoric.
a figure of speech in which the same word, phrase, or clause is repeated after intervening words.
immediate rephrasing for emphasis, intensification, or justification. "You, young lad, are most brave! Brave, did I say? No, heroic!"
the process by which a new word is formed by inserting a sound into another word. "Thunder," an English word derived from the Old English word "thunor" by process of epenthesis. See also: anaptyxis, dissimilation, haplology, metathesis, paragoge.
when one interprets what one has just said, often signaled by "that is to say...."
repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. "In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo -- without warning. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia -- without warning. In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria -- without warning. In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia -- without warning. Later in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland -- without warning. And now Japan has attacked Malaya and Thailand -- and the United States -- without warning." Franklin D. Roosevelt. See also: anadiplosis, anaphora, symploce.
a descriptive word or phrase. "The Great Emancipator," as a substitute for Abraham Lincoln. Also, an abusive or contemptuous word or phrase; a slur.
a figure of speech in which permission is granted to do what someone proposes to do or is already doing.
repetition of a word with vehemence or emphasis. "Alone, alone, all all alone. Alone on a wide wide sea." -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge. See: palilogy, ploce.
the introduction of words into a language that are derived from the names of people or places.
See: equivoque.
an equivocal word, phrase, or expression; also, a pun or double meaning; also, ambiguity. Same as "equivoke."
an earlier form of a word in the same language or an ancestor language. See also: Wanderwort.
substitution of a harsh, offensive, or unpleasant word with one that is less so. "When the final news came, there would be a ring at the front door -- a wife in this situation finds herself staring at the front door as if she no longer owns it or controls it -- and outside the door would be a man...come to inform her that unfortunately something has happened out there, and her husband's body now lies incinerated in the swamps or the pines or the palmetto grass, 'burned beyond recognition,' which anyone who had been around an air base very long (fortunately Jane had not) realized was quite an artful euphemism to describe a human body that now looked like an enormous fowl that has burned up in a stove, burned a blackish brown all over, greasy and blistered, fried, in a word, with not only the entire face and all the hair and the ears burned off, not to mention all the clothing, but also the hands and feet, with what remains of the arms and legs bent at the knees and elbows and burned into absolutely rigid angles, burned a greasy blackish brown like the bursting body itself, so that this husband, father, officer, gentleman, this ornamentum of some mother's eye, His Majesty the Baby of just twenty-odd years back, has been reduced to a charred hulk with wings and shanks sticking out of it." -- Tom Wolfe. See also: dysphemism, eusystolism.
use of initials, instead of full words, as a euphemism, often to avoid speaking harsh words. See also: euphemism.
repeating a point by using different figures of speech to give the impression of saying something new.
a name by which one people or social group refers to another but which is not used by said group to refer to themselves.
characteristic of a reference to something inside the speech or text in which the reference occurs. See also: endophoric.
placement of a subject at a later position in the sentence than where it would normally be. "To sit down," in, "It is nice to sit down," which would normally be phrased, "To sit down is nice."
pertaining to the case when the action indicated by a transitive verb is not merely received by an object but produces some change in the object. "The boy popped the balloon," is factitive, because "balloon" is a factitive object, that is, an object changed by the verb "popped." But "The boy held the balloon," is not factitive, because the object "balloon" is only the recipient of the action indicated by the verb "held" and is not changed by it.
fis phenomenon
the phenomenon where children reject well-meaning adult attempts to mispronounce a word in the same way as a child. Child: "Fis." / Adult: "Yes, it's a 'fis'." / Child: "No, 'fis'!" / Adult: "Oh, a fish." / Child: "Yes, a fis."
Fog Index
a scheme by which the readability of a particular text may be evaluated; it is computed by adding the average sentence length (expressed in number of words per sentence) to the percentage of words with more than two syllables.
expressing repeated action; also, a frequentative verb.
the theory that humans are genetically predisposed to learn languages.
fabricated, nonmeaningful speech, especially such speech associated with a trance state or some schizophrenic syndromes.
the determination of how long ago different languages evolved from a common source language.
a symbol, such as on a public sign, that imparts information without words, especially a figure or character incised or in relief.
See: ablaut.
the study of how linguistic units combine to form sentences; also, the system of rules implicit in a language.
writer's cramp.
a sound articulated with the throat with the back of the tongue, much retracted, and the soft palate.
hapax legomenon
a word that occurs only once in the recorded corpus of a given language. "Flother," a synonym for "snowflake," which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is used in a manuscript from circa 1275 and not known to have been used elsewhere.
the process by which a word is formed by removing one of two identical or similar adjacent syllables in an earlier word. "Nutrix," the Latin word meaning "nurse," was formed from the earlier word "nutritrix." See also: anaptyxis, dissimilation, epenthesis, metathesis, paragoge.
the use of a conjunction rather than the subordination of one word to another. "I will try and arrive promptly this time," instead of "I will try to arrive promptly this time." Also "nice and warm" instead of "nicely warm."
evading an issue or question by changing the subject. "Has our logging company endangered the spotted owl? I'll tell you what we've endangered: the unemployment rate in Oregon."
a method of spelling in which the same letters represent different sounds in different words, as in ordinary English orthography. See also: homography, orthography.
a word which has the same spelling but different meaning and pronunciation as another; a type of homograph. "Produce," meaning, "fruits and vegetables," and "produce," meaning, "to bring forth." See also: homogram, homograph, homonym, homophone.
the unconscious saying, in speech or in writing, of something that one does not intend to say, especially when what is said is the reverse of what was intended.
an Anglicized word or phrase corrupted from one or more words of an Asian language.
a phrase, clause, sentence, or other sequence of letters which contains every letter of the alphabet at least once. See also: pangram.
a concept that has another concept as a part. A house is a holonym of a room. See also: meronym.
use of a holophrase, that is, a single word expressing a complex idea.
See: homograph.
a word which has the same spelling as another but different meaning, derivation, or pronunciation. Same as "homogram." See also: heteronym, homonym, homophone.
a method of spelling in which every sound is represented by a single character, which indicates that sound and no other. See also: heterography, orthography.
a word that has the same spelling and pronunciation as another but different meanings or derivations; a word that is both a homograph and a homophone. See also: heteronym, homogram, homograph, homophone.
a word which has the same pronunciation as another but different meaning, derivation, or spelling. See also: heteronym, homogram, homograph, homonym.
a title or phrase conferring respect, especially when used in addressing a social superior. See also: autonomasia.
interchange of two elements in a phrase or clause from the order in which they would normally appear. "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," instead of "To waste a mind is a terrible thing."
deviation of normal or logical word order. See also: anastrophe, hysteron proteron, synchysis.
exaggeration for emphasis or rhetorical or dramatic effect. See also: meiosis.
characteristic of an incorrect linguistic construction in which the error is produced from a mistaken effort to be correct. "Between you and I," which should be "between you and me." See also: hyponym.
a word that is more generic than a given word. See also: hyponym.
use of pet names, diminutives, baby talk, or terms of endearment. "Comfy" instead of "comfortable."
a word that is more specific than a given word. See also: hypernym.
asking a question, often one it is anticipated readers or listeners will have, and subsequently answering it. See also: procatalepsis.
to ascribe material existence to, especially to a conceptual entity. See also: personification.
the dependent or subordinate relationship of clauses with connectives.
hysteron proteron
reversal of the normal order of terms; a type of hyperbaton. "Gentlemen and ladies." (Also note the first line of the ultra-condensation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner on RinkWorks' own Book-A-Minute feature.) See also: hyperbaton.
See: logogram.
the speech of an individual, considered as a linguistic pattern unique among other speakers of the same language or dialect.
the practice of referring to oneself in the third person. See also: illeist.
one who habitually practices illeism. See also: illeism.
characteristic of a speech sound produced with an inhalation of breath.
expression that comes across contrary to the intended meaning, often because the audience knows what the speaker does not.
a sequence of parallel structures, having the same number of words and sometimes the same number of syllables. "What else can one do when he is alone in a jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts, and pray long prayers?" -- Martin Luther King.
a geographic boundary which delimits an area in which a given linguistic feature occurs.
replacement of a common noun by a colorful compound. "Information superhighway" instead of "Internet."
klang association
See: phonaesthesia.
a regional dialect or language that becomes the standard language over a wider area, losing its most extreme local features in the process; also, a lingua franca: a common hybrid or other language used by speakers of different languages. See also: lingua franca.
language viewed as a system including vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation of a particular community.
a character that combines two or more letters, such as æ.
lingua franca
a common hybrid or other language used by speakers of different languages. See also: koine.
writing composed of words lacking a certain specific letter or letters. See also: univocalic.
understatement by negating the opposite; a type of meiosis. "I was not disappointed with the news." See also: meiosis.
loan translation
See: calque.
a word adopted from another language and completely or partially naturalized. See also: calque, Wanderwort.
obsession with the word. See also: phonocentrism.
a written symbol that represents an entire word without expressing its pronunciation. Same as "ideogram" and "logograph." The numerals 0-9 are each logograms.
See: logogram.
a word puzzle in which it is required to discover a chosen word from various combinations of its letters, or some of its letters, which form other words.
disgust or hatred of particular words.
lucus a non lucendo
an etymological contradiction in which a modern word is derived from an older word of contradictory meaning. "Beldam," meaning, "ugly hag," comes from the French word "bellum," meaning, "beautiful thing."
of or containing a mixture of Latin words and vernacular words jumbled together, as a macaronic verse.
long and tedious talk lacking in substance; superfluity of words.
ludicrous misuse of a word by confusion with one that sounds similar.
understatement for emphasis or rhetorical or dramatic effect. "When my wife left me because I'd been fired and crippled in an accident on my way home, I was a little saddened." See also: hyperbole, litotes.
linguistic process of a word gradually becoming more positive in meaning or connotation over time. Although both melioration and amelioration can be used to describe the general process of improvement of anything, melioration is more commonly used with respect to the meaning of words undergoing this change. See also: pejoration.
lying as an art; adroit prevarication.
a grouping of words that means something other than the combined meanings of each of the words individually.
a concept that is part of another concept. A room is a meronym of a house. See also: holonym.
the continuation of a trope in one word through a succession of significations, or the union of multiple tropes of a different kind in one word; substituting metonymy of one figurative sense for another.
a word or phrase treated as an object within another expression. "A lady's 'verily' is as potent as a lord's." -- William Shakespeare.
an interpretation or analysis of an unfamiliar name, which may involve associations to unrelated, similarly spelled words rather than to ideas related to the true meaning of the word.
implied comparison between two things by calling or implying that one is the other. See also: catachresis, simile.
a change (including substitutions, additions, omissions, and inversions) in the letters or syllables of a word. See also: antisthecon, synaloepha.
the process by which a new word is formed by transposing the letters, sounds, or syllables in an older word. "Bird," an English word derived from the Old English word "brid" by the process of metathesis. See also: anaptyxis, dissimilation, epenthesis, haplology, paragoge.
substitution of a word or phrase with another which it suggests. "The pen is mightier than the sword," in which both "pen" and "sword" are substituted for "written prose" and "military." See also: synecdoche.
writing with difficulty. See also: mogilalia.
speaking with difficulty. See also: mogigraphia.
a series of words, often humorous, that result from mishearing a statement or song lyric.
comprising of one word, or of single word sentences.
a compulsive avoidance of repetition. "A monologophobe would edit the Bible so that you would read, 'Let there by light and there was solar illumination.'" -- Harold Evans.
a meaningful linguistic unit consisting of a root word or a word element that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts. "Pick" and "s", in the word "picks," are morphemes. See also: phoneme.
the study of structure and form of words in language, including inflection, derivation, and formation of compounds. See also: accidence.
a rustic accent or dialect for use on stage.
a language error, such as with spelling or pronunciation, that is committed repeatedly, especially after correction; also, a person who repeatedly commits such an error or insists on perpetuating it.
noa word
a word free of any taboo in the languages under consideration, usually signifying that it may be employed without reservation in the creation of an international commercial name.
customary, ordinary; describing the usual English spelling of a word, as distinct from phonetic spellings.
the practice of referring to oneself as "we"; a type of enallage. See also: enallage.
objective correlative
a situation or sequence of events or objects that evokes a particular emotion in a reader or an audience.
the branch of semantics dealing with related words and their meanings. See also: semantics.
of, relating to, or explaining one or more names.
a word that refers to a specific sound and whose pronunciation mimics the sound. "Bang! Zoom!" -- Jackie Gleason.
oratio obliqua
indirect speech See also: oratio recta.
oratio recta
direct speech See also: oratio obliqua.
the science of defining technical terms.
the study of correct spelling according to established usage. See also: heterography, homography.
the juxtaposition of incongruous or contradictory terms.
relating to or being a word that has an acute accent on the last syllable, especially a Greek word; also, a word with this quality. See also: paroxytone.
the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession, for emphasis. See also: epizeuxis, ploce.
a word, phrase, clause, or sentence that reads the same regularly as it does when its letters are reversed; a type of palingram. "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama." See also: palingram.
a word, phrase, clause, or sentence that reads the same backwards after rearranging segments. "Workmate did teamwork," is a palingram, because the sentence can be rearranged into four four-letter segments, with one three-letter segment in the middle; by reversing the order of the segments and, when necessary, rearranging the letters within each segment, the sentence reads the same backwards. See also: palindrome.
a poem or ode in which something said in a previous poem or ode is retracted.
a sentence that uses all the letters of the alphabet; a holalphabetic sentence. See also: holalphabetic.
a figure of speech in which a vice is portrayed as a virtue. "He is confident," said of a proud man.
apparent contradiction or discrepancy with common sense.
the process by which a new word is formed by adding a letter or syllable to the end of another word. Same as "proparalepsis." "Climature," derived from "climate." See also: anaptyxis, dissimilation, epenthesis, haplology, metathesis, parelcon.
a pun. See also: antisthecon, equivoque, paronomasia.
the set of nonphonemic properties of speech, such as speaking tempo and vocal pitch, that can be used to communicate attitudes or other shades of meaning. See also: paralinguistic.
See: apophasis.
See: apophasis.
See: apophasis.
relating to the study of paralanguage. See also: paralanguage.
a flourish made after or below a signature, originally to prevent forgery.
a disorder of verbal communication that includes the transposition of letters or spoken sounds, and, in some cases, the substitution of one word for another while both words remain among the words spoken at that particular time. See also: aphasia.
unexpected ending of a phrase or series.
mentioning an idea or event only insofar as to indicate that it be left or assumed to be understood. See also: apophasis, autoclesis.
derivation of words using hyphenated compounds.
juxtaposition of clauses or phrases without the use of coordinating or subordinating conjunctions. "She didn't remember her own name; her entire past, in fact, was blotted from her memory."
the repetition of the same sound in words in close or immediate succession. "Veni, vidi, vici." -- Julius Caesar. See also: alliteration, assonance, consonance.
the addition of one or more syllables to the end of a pronoun, verb, or adverb. See also: paragoge.
See: paroemion.
the deliberate use of equivocal or ambiguous words.
excessive alliteration. "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers." See also: alliteration.
the act of speaking; a particular utterance or word.
wordplay involving the juxtaposition of similar sounding words; also, punning. See also: adnominatio, paragram, polyptoton.
a paronymous word. See also: paronymous.
of or relating to a word having the same stem as another. Beautiful and beauteous are paranymous words, or paranyms. See also: paronymous.
relating to or being a word that has an acute accent on the next to last syllable; also, a word with this quality. See also: oxytone.
Freedom or boldness of speech.
an artificial international language that uses characters (such as mathematical symbols) instead of words.
the use of local or provincial words.
of or relating to the name of one's father or a paternal ancestor; also, a name so derived.
linguistic process of a word gradually becoming more negative in meaning or connotation over time. See also: melioration.
roundabout wording. "The person to whom I am married," instead of "my spouse." See also: circumlocution.
one who expounds on a subject of which he has little knowledge.
attribution of personal characteristics to an impersonal entity. See also: hypostatize.
characteristic of speech employed for the purpose of sharing feelings or establishing a mood of sociability rather than to communicate information or ideas.
the pacification of an adversary with the use of promises or mild speech.
a word with a phonetic likeness to other words of similar meaning. Crush, crash, clash, bash, mash, smash, and smoosh are phonaesthemes of each other. See also: phonaesthesia.
the phenomenon by which associations arise among groups of similar sounding words, which may have close, distant, or no etymological relations to each other. Same as "klang association." See also: phonaestheme.
obsession with the voice. See also: logocentrism.
the smallest phonetic unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinction in meaning. "M", in "man," and "c", in "can," are phonemes. See also: morpheme.
the use of a superfluity of words, often deliberately, for emphasis. "I've never seen anything more obscene in all my 80 years on this Earth."
repetition of a word to emphasize or extend meaning. See also: epizeuxis, palilogy.
repetition of a word in different forms, cases, or with different inflection, in the sentence. See also: adnominatio, paronomasia.
characterized by having many meanings. See also: polysemy.
an instance of a word or sentence or other writing being polysemous. See also: polysemous.
repetition of conjunctions in a series of words, phrases, or clauses. "So I got mad at him and picked up a pillow and popped him in the head." See also: asyndeton.
See: apophasis.
altering the meaning of a term from positive to negative; also, a privative prefix or suffix.
a word or syllable which is joined with the following word in such a way as to lose its own independent accent. "Prithee," which is a shortening of "pray thee," and "Get," in, "Get 'em!" See also: enclitic, synaloepha.
speaking or acting upon something anticipated as if it were done or existing. "I'm a dead man, now!" Alternately, positioning a relative clause before its antecedent. "Consider the lilies of the field how they grow." See also: procatalepsis.
anticipating and answering an opponent's objections in advance; an instance of prolepsis. See also: hypophora, prolepsis.
See also: paragoge.
See: paronomasia.
a figure of speech in which an absent or imaginary person is represented as speaking.
the prefixing of one or more letters to the beginning of a word. "Beloved."
a language that is the recorded or hypothetical ancestor of one or more other languages. Same as "Ursprache."
the carrying forward of a final letter to the following word.
parrot-like repetition in speech
purr word
a word with positive connotations and therefore desirable to use in building and sustaining good public relations. See also: snarl word.
a representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, especially when presented as a puzzle.
to regard or treat an abstraction as if it had concrete or material existence.
the part of a sentence that provides new information about the topic under discussion.
the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively; more generally, verbal communication.
characteristic of a line or verse in which each successive word has one more syllable than the previous.
correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse. "No more rhyming now, I mean it! / Anybody want a peanut?" -- The Princess Bride.
modification of the sound of a morpheme in certain phonetic contexts. See also: morpheme.
scesis onomaton
a sentence constructed with a sequence of generally synonymous phrases or statements; also, a sentence constructed only of nouns and adjectives, typically in a regular or synonymous pattern.
the meaning of a word, phrase, clause, or sentence, as opposed to its syntactic construction. Same as "semiotics." See also: onomasiology.
See: semantics.
of a word, having many syllables; of a person, tending to use long words.
a word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another.
characterized by a hissing sound, especially a speech sound, such as those indicated by "s," "sh," "z," or "zh." See also: sigmatism.
inability to pronounce sibilant sounds correctly. See also: sibilant.
an explicit comparison between two things using the word like or as. See also: metaphor.
snarl word
a word with negative connotations and therefore not desirable to use lest good public relations be undermined. See also: purr word.
a mistake in the use of language; also, an offense against good manners or etiquette.
a false argument, especially one intended to deceive.
the interchange of the initial letters of two words, usually as a slip of the tongue. "I think I'll go outside and get a freth of bresh air."
an ancient Greek arrangement of dialogue in which single lines of verse or other writing are spoken by alternate speakers.
phrasing words in such a way as to misrepresent by concealing facts.
a word that is more generic than a given word.
pertaining to a feature of speech that extends over more than a single speech sound.
use of a single word that applies to two or more others in different senses. "He was deep in thought and in debt." Also, "We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately." -- Benjamin Franklin. See also: zeugma.
deductive reasoning in which a conclusion is derived from two premises. "All human beings are mortal. I am a human being. Therefore, I am mortal."
simultaneous use of anaphora and epistrophe. "Justice came down from heaven to view the earth; Justice returned to heaven, and left the earth." See also: anadiplosis, anaphora, epistrophe.
See: syneresis.
a brain disorder characterized by a cross-referencing of senses: for example, sounds might be "seen" and colors might be "heard."
omitting one of two vowels, one of which occurs at the end of one word and the other of which occurs at the beginning of the next word; a type of metaplasm. "Th'other," a shortening of "the other." See also: enclitic, metaplasm, proclitic.
confused arrangement of words in a sentence, either by accident or on purpose; an extreme instance of hyperbaton or anastrophe. See also: anastrophe, hyperbaton.
shortening a word by omitting a middle segment.
referring to something by just a part of it. "New York won the World Series," instead of "The New York Yankees won the World Series." See also: metonymy.
the drawing together of two consecutive vowels or syllables into a single syllable, as the formation of a diphthong. Same as "synaeresis." See also: diphthong.
agreement of words to logic rather than grammatical form. "The wages of sin is death." -- Romans 6:23. See also: anacoluthon.
a word which has the same meaning as another. "Elated," which is a synonym for "ecstatic." See also: antonym.
the shortening of a long syllable.
the art or practice of rapid writing or shorthand; stenography.
repetition of an idea in different words. "With malice toward none, with charity for all." -- Abraham Lincoln.
a scientific name in which the genus and species names are the same. For example, gorilla gorilla.
See: theophorous.
having the name of a god; derived from the name of a deity.
inserting a word in the middle of another. "Hoo-bloody-ray" and "un-freaking-believable." See also: dystmesis.
traduttori traditori
Italian saying meaning "Translators, Traitors," implying that expression in one language can never be equivalently expressed in another.
the figurative use of a word or expression.
writing that contains just one vowel. "Left rebel 'Red Ken' elected." See also: lipogram.
See: protolanguage.
See: guttural.
the destruction of the sense or value of a word.
the language or dialect of a country; the everyday language of ordinary people.
a word that is similar in several presumably unrelated or distantly related languages yet whose origins are unknown. "Wine." See also: calque, etymon, loanword.
a mental disorder characterized by the making of poor jokes and puns and the telling of pointless stories and usually caused by lesions on the frontal lobe.
a label that, when applied often enough to a particular group, eventually becomes accepted as fact. "The perception that Generation Xers are 'slackers' is inaccurate; it is a mere wordfact."
one with a foreign accent.
two words linked to another, which only applies to one of them; also, a syllepsis. See also: syllepsis.