Definition of a Figure of Speech
A Figure of speech can be defined as a word or phrase that possesses different meaning(s) than its usual or basic meaning(s). Figure of speech is what you use to express yourself when you say something, but actually mean something else.
Figure of speech can also be used to compare one thing to another, further explain a concept, or exaggerate something for emphasis.
There are many different types of figures of speech in the English language. We will give you examples of some of the most commonly used types here. Before that, however, let’s briefly explain the functions of figure of speech.
Functions of Figure of Speech
Figure of speech is not only used to embellish the language, but also cause a moment of excitement when reading. It is used equally in writing as well as in speech. It, in fact, provides emphasis, clarity or freshness to expression. Clarity, however, may sometimes suffer because a figure of speech introduces double meanings such as connotative and denotative meanings. It also strengthens the creative expression and description along with making the language more graphic, pointed and vivid.
15 TYPES OF FIGURES OF SPEECH (WITH EXAMPLES)
SIMILE – This is used to compare one thing with another thing of a different kind. It is also used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.
Examples of Simile
- Tony is as brave as a Lion
- She’s usually as agile as a Monkey when her boyfriend is around
METAPHOR – This is used to describe an object or action in a way that isn’t basically true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison.
Examples of Metaphor
- Tony is a Lion, his bravery is second to none.
- She is a Monkey when her boyfriend is around
Difference between Simile and Metaphor
Both similes and metaphors express comparisons between two things that aren’t obviously alike. However, simile is used to compare things with the use of ‘as’ or ‘like’: ‘Tony is as brave as a Lion’. In a metaphor, the two things are linked or equated without using like or as: Tony is a Lion, his bravery is second to none.
METONYMY – It’s a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated
Examples of Metonymy
- The land belongs to the CROWN
- This movie is NOLLYWOOD
PERSONIFICATION – the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something non-human, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form. It’s used to assign the characteristics of a person to something non-human.
Examples of Personification
- The radio also felt the pain when the music was stopped
- My alarm yells at me every morning to make sure I get to work early
HYPERBOLE – is a figure of speech that uses extreme exaggeration to make a point or show emphasis.
Examples of Hyperbole
- I have a million things to do today.
- I miss you so much, more than the sand in the beach
UNDERSTATEMENT – It is used to present something as being smaller or less good or important than it really is
Examples of Understatement
- After wrecking your car: “There’s a little scratch.”
- After acing all your exams: “It’s just a normal result.”
Difference between Hyperbole and Understatement
Both are used to hide the ‘truth’: hyperbole exaggerates the truth for emphasis while understatement says less and means more.
LITOTES – is a figure of speech that uses negative terms to express a positive statement
Examples of Litotes
- He is not unhappy
- Not bad
ALLITERATION – is used to describe a literary device using a series of words in a row (or close together) with the same beginning consonant sound. This is commonly called ‘Tongue Twister’
Examples of Alliteration
- “She sells seashells by the sea-shore.”
- “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
ASSONANCE – takes place when two or more words, close to one another repeat the same vowel sound, but start with different consonant sounds.
Examples of Assonance
- We light fire on the mountain.
- I feel depressed and restless
Difference between Alliteration and Assonance
Both create sound effects: alliteration through the repetition of an initial consonant sound (as in “a peck of pickled peppers”), and assonance through the repetition of similar vowel sounds in neighboring words (“It beats . . . as it sweeps . . . as it cleans!”).
ONOMATOPOEIA – the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named
Examples of Onomatopoeia
- Both bees and buzzers buzz
- The snake slithered and hissed
HOMOIOTELEUTON – Is the repetition of endings in words. This is also referred to as Rhyme
Examples of Homoioteleuton
- He’s the maddest, baddest, and maybe saddest person I know
- “The quicker picker upper”
PARADOX – It’s a statement which may appear false, but is in fact true.: It is self-contradictory.
Examples of Paradox
- War is peace
- Freedom is slavery
OXYMORON – An oxymoron uses a contradictory adjective to define an object, situation or event.
Examples of Oxymoron
- Alone together.
- Amazingly awful
Difference between Paradox and Oxymoron
A paradoxical statement appears to contradict itself (War is peace), while an oxymoron is placing opposite terms side by side (Alone together)
IRONY – refers to the use of certain words that actually intend to convey the opposite.
Examples of Irony
- A teacher failed a test.
- Having a fight with your best friend just before your birthday, and commenting -“Great, this is just what I needed”.
PUN – A pun is a play on words that produces a humorous effect by using a word that suggests two or more meanings, or by exploiting similar sounding words that have different meanings.
Examples of Pun
- A horse is a very stable
- An elephant’s opinion carries a lot of weight.