Revised as of:
21 Feb 2017
Word play, i.e., verbal games, uses words to be witty, funny, make a memorable point, encourage understanding, make an impact, brighten text, for vehemence or emphasis, enhance a musical effect, catch attention, convey an idea or emotion, create an atmosphere, enforce an idea, and more.
Word Play is a Literary Device, Just Like Figures of Speech and Rhetorical Devices
Word Play is a verbal game of wit and fun that brightens and enhances the reader’s understanding that comes under the category of literary devices and may incorporate figures of speech or rhetorical devices.
A figure of speech alters the meanings of words, going beyond a word’s or phrase’s literal interpretation, like simile, metaphor, hyperbole, and more. It becomes a device in rhetoric when it is aimed at persuading the readers or listeners.
A rhetorical device is used in the art of discourse in which the writer (or speaker) uses different methods to convince, influence, or please an audience. This helps explain why rhetorical devices and figures of speech occasionally swap categories.
Grammar Explanations is…
…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone on an area of grammar with which you struggle or on which you can contribute more understanding.
|Credit to: Wikipedia: List of Forms of Word Play, antanaclasis;|
|Part of Speech: Literary Device|
|Definition: The witty exploitation of the meanings and ambiguities of words, especially in puns.
There are six techniques used in word play:
Authors known for their word play include Shakespeare, P.G. Wodehouse, James Joyce, Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, John Donne, Jessica Grant’s Come, Thou Tortoise, Mark Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
A.k.a., wordplay, play-on-words
By CategoriesAlphabeticalCharacter Name PlayEmphasisPlaying with LanguagePlaying with LettersPlaying with SoundPlaying with Words
|Acronym||An abbr. VERSION (visit entries reading samples in one note) of “Formatting Tip & Grammar: Acronyms & Initialisms for more depth and the acronym’s many, many variations.|
|Anagram||Definition: The result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once.|
|Anagrams have been used to create codes, poke fun, etc.
Other Types of Anagrams include:
|Ananym||Definition: A type of anagram that is a word whose spelling is derived by reversing the spelling of another word.|
|Blanagram||Definition: A word which is an anagram of another but for the substitution of a single letter.|
|Turkish is a blanagram of Kurdish.
Pangram, tangram and managua are blanagrams of the word anagram.
Gantries and ingrates are blanagrams of angriest
Definition and examples courtesy of Blanagram (Wikipedia).
|Palindrome||Definition: A type of verbal play using a number, a word, a sentence, a symbol, or even signs that can be read forward as well as backward or in reserve order with the same effects and meanings.|
|Different types of palindromes are available depending upon the requirements of the subject.
Most Commonly Used Palindromes:
Definition and examples courtesy of Literary Devices.net’s Palindrome“.
|Character by Character Palindrome||Definition: Reads the same top to bottom, letter by letter.|
|Demetri Martin’s “Dammit I’m Mad”:
Dammit I’m mad.
Definition and examples courtesy of Patricia Gay’s “Poetry Friday: Playful palindromes“.
|Name Palindrome||Definition: A name, that when reversed, is the same name.|
|Lon Nol was a Prime Minister of Cambodia.
Nisio Isin was a Japanese novelist.
Robert Trebor was an actor.
Stanley Yelnats is a character in Louis Sachar’s Holes.
|Word Palindrome||Definition: A word, that when reversed, is the same word.|
|Number Palindrome||Definition: A number that is the same when written forwards or backwards.|
|88, 99, 101, 111, 121, 131, 141, 151, 161, and 171|
|Line-Unit Palindrome||Definition: Reverses the order of the sentences, in that it reads the same from the first line to the last line as it does from the last to the first.|
|Was it a car or a cat I saw?
“Lewd did I live & evil I did dwel.” – O. A. Bootty’s The Funny Side of English
“Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron.” credited to poet W.H. Auden
A Toyota’s a Toyota.
|Word-Unit Palindrome||Definition: Reverses the order of the words, instead of the letters.|
|Nick Montfort has tweeted:
“Mind your own business: Own your mind.”
“Information school graduate peruses graduate school information.”
“Desire? Consuming produce can produce consuming desire.”
Howard W. Bergerson’s Palindromes and Anagrams:
“You can cage a swallow, can’t you, but you can’t swallow a cage, can you!”
“What! So he is hanged, is he? So what?”
Definition and examples courtesy of “Word-unit palindromes“.
|Semordnilap||Definition: A type of verbal play in which words spell new words when spelled backwards.|
Definition and examples courtesy of Literary Terms.net’s “Palindrome“.
|Ambigram||Definition: From a strictly narrative viewpoint, an ambigram is a word that can be reversed and still mean the same thing.|
|More likely to be used in graphics. Check out Sonali Vora’s post, “A Clever Collection of 40+ Inspiring Ambigrams” for those graphic examples.|
|Antonyms of Unpaired Words||Definition: Unpaired words are words that do not have an antonym, a paired word. A word may appear to have a related word due to its having a prefix or suffix, but doesn’t.
Sometimes this lack is because that antonym disappeared from common usage, sometimes there never was a pairing.
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is full of such unpairings.
|Aptronym||Definition: A personal name aptly or peculiarly suited to its owner.|
|author Paul Dickson cites a long list of aptronyms originally compiled by Professor Lewis P. Lipsitt, of Brown University. Psychologist Carl Jung wrote in his book Synchronicity that there was a “sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man’s name and his peculiarities”. A.k.a., aptonym, euonym|
|Inaptronym||Definition: An aptronym that is ironic rather than descriptive.|
|Auto-Antonym||Definition: A word with multiple meanings, one of which is defined as the reverse of one of its other meanings.|
|This phenomenon is called enantiosemy, enantionymy, or antilogy.
A.k.a., autantonym, contranym, contronym, antagonym, enantiodrome, self-antonym, antilogy, addad
|Autogram||Definition: A sentence that describes itself in the sense of providing an inventory of its own characters.|
|An essential feature is the use of full cardinal number names such as one, two, etc., in recording character counts.
Letter counts only are often recorded while punctuation signs are ignored.
A.k.a., self-enumerating sentence, self-documenting sentence
|This sentence employs two a‘s, two c‘s, two d‘s, twenty-eight e‘s, five f‘s, three g‘s, eight h‘s, eleven i‘s, three l‘s, two m‘s, thirteen n‘s, nine o‘s, two p‘s, five r‘s, twenty-five s‘s, twenty-three t‘s, six v‘s, ten w‘s, two x‘s, five y‘s, and one z.
Definition and examples courtesy of “Autogram” (Wikipedia).
|Charactonym||Definition: Names that tell the reader something about the respective character: a single character trait, their looks, their behavior, a reference to a historical namesake with whom they have something in common, etc.|
|In Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Ernest’s given name sounds exactly like the adjective earnest.
Remus Lupin: Remus refers to a mythological character raised by wolves while Lupin is a variation on the Latin for wolf, lupus. Wolf Wolf
Draco Malfoy: Draco means dragon. Mal- is a prefix that means evil or bad.
Sirius Black: Sirius is the name of the dog constellation. Black Dog.
Caden Cotard was the name of a character in the movie Synecdoche, New York, a film about death, and the character’s name is based on a mental disorder in which the person thinks they are dead.
Think of all the romantic heroines named Charity, Hope, etc.
Spike, the character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Sir Toby Belch.
|Chronogram||Definition: A phrase in which constituent letters also express a number.
Replacing one or more letters in a title with a number vaguely resembling the letter or otherwise related.
|“My Day Closed Is In Immortality”
An epitaph for England’s Queen Elizabeth I in which the first letter of each word corresponds to a Roman numeral, MDCIII, which translates as 1603, the date of Queen Elizabeth I’s death.
The title of the 1995 crime thriller Seven.
Definition and examples courtesy of Daily Writing Tips’ “10 Types of Wordplay.
|Emphasis||You absolutely MUST visit the post, “Rhetorical Device: Emphasis” to learn so very much more.|
|Epanadiplosis||Definition: The same word is used both at the beginning and at the end of a sentence.|
|“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”
Laugh with those that laugh, and weep with those that weep.
Examples courtesy of Your Dictionary.com.
|Epanalepsis||Definition: The same word or phrase appears both at the beginning and at the end of a clause or sentence.|
|The king is dead; long live the king.
Severe to his servants, to his children severe.
They bowed down to him rather, because he was all of these things, and then again he was all of these things because the town bowed down. – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Beloved is mine; she is Beloved.
“Control, control, you must learn control.” – The Empire Strikes Back
“A minimum wage that is not a livable wage can never be a minimum wage.” – Ralph Nader
Year chases year.
Man’s inhumanity to man.
“Common sense is not so common.” – Voltaire
“Blood will have blood.” – Shakespeare, Macbeth
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life.
|Epizeuxis||Dive, dive, dive into into the post, “Rhetorical Device“, for more on epizeuxis, a.k.a., hyperzeuxis.|
|Hypozeuxis||Writers shall delve into that emphasis. Writers shall delve into the “Word Play”. Writers shall delve into the depths of the hypozeuxis.|
|Epitaph||Definition: Phrase or statement written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone.
You may want to explore the post, “Word Confusion: Epigram vs Epigraph vs Epitaph vs Epithet“.
|“Here lie the bones of one ‘Bun’
He was killed with a gun.
His name was not ‘Bun’ but ‘Wood’
But ‘Wood’ would not rhyme with gun
But ‘Bun’ would.”
“Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,
To digg þe dust encloased heare.
Blese be þe man þat spares þes stones,
And curst be he þat moves my bones.”
Shakespeare composed his own epitaph as he was worried that someone would dig up his grave.
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
“Whither thou goest, I will go.” – Bible, Ruth 1:16
This ain’t bad — once you get used to it.
He was shot, bayoneted, beaten and left for dead, but recovered and lived to be 98 years of age.
|Homonym||Set yourself to read the post, “Homonym“, and let it set deep into your brain.|
|Homograph||It’s not read yet, but you’ll want to read the post, “Homograph“.|
|Capitonym||Father says you should read the post, “Capitonym“, lest you father a blooper.|
|Heteronym||Tear into the post, “Heteronym” before you shed a tear.|
|Monosemy||You may find it lucrative to read the post, “Monosemy“.|
|Polysemy||Take the post, “Polysemy“, take it and take a look.|
|Homophone||Fare thee well, and thou must read that fair post, “Homophone“.|
|Heterograph||It will take eight minutes to read the post, “Heterograph“, and it’ll be all ate up!|
|Language Game||Definition: A way of manipulating spoken words to make them incomprehensible to those not in the know.|
|Primarily used by groups, mostly children, attempting to conceal their conversations from others.|
|Some Languages Games include:|
|Anglish||Definition: A name coined by Paul Jennings in 1966 when he was writing … for Punch riffed on how English would have developed without the Norman conquests…
You may want to explore The Anglish Moot, a wiki-type site composed wholly in a form of modern English without any loanwords at all. It can give you an appreciation for how many loanwords English uses on a daily basis.
|“The Banded Folkdoms of Americksland (BFA) is the most dwelt-in land in the landstretch of North Americksland. Its makeup is that of an evenly banded rike, with three branches of rike: the Leaderly, the Lawmootly, and the Lawlordly. The foremost tongue in the land is English, though some Spanish is spoken also.”
“Earthfrod is the learning of Earth’s eretide and foreblowing as shown by rocks a.s.o. in fields such as life and former loftlays.
Among its fields are:
“To be, or not to be — that is the asking:
Whether ‘tis worthier in the mind to bear
The slings and arrows of unbound mishap
Or to take fight against a sea of worries
And by gainstanding end them. To die, to sleep —
No more — and by a sleep to say we end…” – An overbringing of Hamlet’s aside, Shakespeare, Hamlet
Definition and examples courtesy of Language Trainers.
|Bushism||Definition: Unconventional words, phrases, pronunciations, malapropisms, the creation of neologisms, spoonerisms, stunt words, grammatically incorrect subject–verb agreement, and semantic or linguistic errors in the public speaking of former President of the United States George W. Bush.|
|“I guess it’s OK to call the secretary of education here ‘buddy’. That means friend.” – Philadelphia, 8 January 2009
“One of the very difficult parts of the decision I made on the financial crisis was to use hardworking people’s money to help prevent there to be a crisis.” – Washington, D.C., 12 January 2009
“Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” – Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 6 September 2004
“They misunderestimated me.” – Bentonville, Arkansas, 6 November 2000
“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” – Saginaw, Michigan, 29 September 2000
|Chinglish||Definition: Confusing or inappropriate English translations from Chinese.
Think of the signs at the Chinese Olympics.
Check out Engrish to see the difference.
|The grass smiles to you, pleas do not trample on it.
The door has been bad. Push on the left side of the door.
We herein construction, bring inconvenience to you. please understanding!
Is your hair bringing you troubles like scurf, feeble fracture easily, withered and furcated difficult to handle, fat and greasy?
Chicken Fried Supply Weapons.
A delicious part of your military breakfast.
Classier than the slow burn…
The worst examples? All those help manuals for your electronics.
Definition and examples courtesy of Ferreting Out the Fun.
|Dog Latin||Definition: A spurious or incorrect Latin that refers to the creation of a phrase or jargon in imitation of Latin, often by “translating” English words (or those of other languages) into Latin by conjugating or declining them as if they were Latin words. (Sometimes “dog Latin” can mean a poor-quality attempt at writing genuine Latin.)|
|It is more of a humorous device for invoking scholarly seriousness.
A.k.a., Cod Latin, macaronic Latin, mock Latin, Canis Latinicus
“dorkus malorkus”, an insult spoken by Bart Simpson
|Engrish||Definition: Confusing or inappropriate English translations from Japanese (due to their difficulty in pronouncing the letter “L”.
Check out Chinglish to see the difference.
|All your base are belong to us.” – Zero Wing
The song “Let’s Fighting Love” from “Good Times with Weapons”, South Park
The song “I’m so Ronery” from Team America: World Police
Definition and examples courtesy of Wikipedia: Engrish.
|Homophonic Translation||Definition: Translates the text in one language into
the same or another language AND preserves how it sounds, but doesn’t worry about retaining the original meaning.
|It also incorporates phono-semantic matching which attempts to retain the meaning AND the way it sounds in the original language.
It may also be used for humorous purpose, as bilingual punning (macaronic language). This requires the listener or reader to understand both the surface, nonsensical translated text, as well as the source text — the surface text then sounds like source text spoken in a foreign accent.
Some works by Oulipo, Frédéric Dard, Luis van Rooten’s English-French Mots D’Heures: Gousses, Rames, Louis Zukofsky’s Latin-English Catullus Fragmenta, Ormonde de Kay’s N’Heures Souris Rames: The Coucy Castle Manuscript, John Hulme’s Morder Guss Reims: The Gustav Leberwurst Manuscript (English and German Edition) and David Melnick’s “Men in Aida“.
Howard L. Chace’s Anguish Languish: “Ladle Rat Rotten Hut”
|Macaronic Language||Definition: Text using a mixture of languages, particularly bilingual puns or situations in which the languages are otherwise used in the same context (rather than simply discrete segments of a text being in different languages).|
|It may also denote hybrid words, which are “internally macaronic”, roughly meaning: using more than one language or dialect within the same conversation.
It can have derogatory overtones, and is usually reserved for works where the mixing of languages has a humorous or satirical intent or effect.
|When I came down to Glasgow first,
a-mach air Tìr nan Gall.
I was like a man adrift,
air iomrall’s doll air chall.
Authors like Carlo Emilio Gadda; the character Salvatore in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and the peasant hero of his Baudolino; Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo (“Comic Mystery Play”) features grammelot sketches using language with macaronic elements; and, Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai includes portions of Japanese, Classical Greek, and Inuktitut.
Definition and examples courtesy of Wikipedia: Macaronic Language.
|Pig Latin||Definition: A game of alterations played on the English language game. There is no connection to Latin.|
|Words are formed by transposing the initial consonant sound to the end of the word and adding -ay to it.
It’s mostly used as a “code” amongst children or to converse in perceived privacy from adults or other children.
Definition and examples courtesy of Latin4Everyone.
|Ubbi Dubbi||Definition: A language game that is a close relative of the language game Obbish. that was popularized by the 1970s PBS television show Zoom.|
|Ubbi dubbi works by adding ub- before each vowel sound in a syllable with the stress falling on the ub of the syllable that is stressed in the original word.
Variations to Ubbi Dubbi include Ob, Ib, Arpy Darpy, and Iz (a.k.a. shizzolation).
PBS Kids has an ubbi dubbi generator, if you want to play.
Definition and examples courtesy of Wikipedia: Ubbi Dubbi.
|Janusism||Definition: The use of phonetics to create a humorous word.|
|Lipogram||Definition: A composition that deliberately avoids using a letter of the alphabet.|
|Alonso Alcalá y Herrera’s Varios effectos de amor is a sequence of five novellas each eschewing a different vowel
Ernest Wright’s Gadsby (1939) without using e.
Definition and examples courtesy of Oxford University Press’ “10 Literary Terms You Might Not Know.
|Malapropism||Definition: The practice of misusing words by substituting words with similar sounding words that have different, often unconnected meanings, and thus creating a situation of confusion, misunderstanding, and amusement.|
|For writers, it is useful to create the sense of a character who is flustered, bothered, unaware, stupid, or confused.
A trick to using malapropism is to ensure that the two words (the original and the substitute) sound similar enough for the reader to catch onto the intended switch and find humor in the result.
Examples courtesy of Literary Devices.
|Mondegreen||Definition: A mishearing of a popular phrase or song lyric, was coined by the writer Sylvia Wright.|
Definition and examples courtesy of University of Houston.
|Neologism||Definition: A new word or phrase that is not yet used regularly by most speakers and writers.|
|3 Types of Neologisms:
|Derived Word||Definition: Words that use ancient Greek and Latin phrases naturalized to match the English language.|
|Transferred Word||Definition: Encompasses words taken from another language and used in an adjusted form in English.|
|New words come from creativity and invention, merging of existing words, and borrowing from other cultures and languages.|
|Portmanteau||Definition: Two or more words are joined together to coin a new word by blending parts of two or more words, but it always shares the same meanings as the original words.|
|Portmanteau is different from a compound word, as a compound word can have a completely different meaning from the words that it was coined from.
A.k.a., blend word
|Retronym||Definition: A word created to differentiate between two words, where previously no clarification was required.|
|Advances in technology are often responsible for the coinage of retronyms.|
|Pangram||Definition: A sentence using every letter of a given alphabet at least once.|
|Pangrams have been used to display typefaces, test equipment, and develop skills in handwriting, calligraphy, and keyboarding.
A.k.a., holoalphabetic sentence
|The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.
The five boxing wizards jump quickly.
How vexingly quick daft zebras jump!
Bright vixens jump; dozy fowl quack.
Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
Definition and examples courtesy of “Panagram (Wikipedia)”.
|Paragram||Definition: A type of verbal play consisting of the alteration of a letter or a series of letters in a word.
|You’re the wurst.
Swine Lake by James Marshall is about pigs performing a ballet.
The title of a Sports Illustrated article about exercise programs for NASCAR pit crews: “Making a Fit Stop”. – Lars Anderson (2005)
|Paraprosdokian||Definition: An unexpected shift in meaning at the end of a sentence, stanza, series, or short passage and is often used for comic effect.|
|A.k.a., surprise ending|
|“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is short, simple — and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken
“If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.” – Dorothy Parker, quoted by Mardy Grothe in Ifferisms
“If I am reading this graph correctly — I’d be very surprised.” – Stephen Colbert
“Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.” – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Definition and examples courtesy of About: Paraprosdokian.
|Paregmenon||Definition: A general term for the repetition of a words which have the same root in a short sentence.
It is a simple and subtle way of grabbing attention, much as a hammer hitting a nail.
|It will destroy the wisdom of the wise.
Verily, you are very well verified.
Happily, happiness makes others happy too.
Society is the socialization of the unsociable.
|Pseudonym||Definition: A fictitious name used, usually by an author, to conceal his or her identity.|
|A.k.a., pen name|
|Pun||Definition: A play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings or by exploiting similar sounding words having different meanings but multiple correct interpretations.|
|“Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, as their usage and meaning are specific to a particular language and its culture”.
May Use Other Literary Devices including:
|A vulture boards a plane, carrying two dead possums. The attendant looks at him and says, “I’m sorry, sir, only one carry on allowed per passenger.”
Santa’s helpers are known as subordinate Clauses.
The grammarian was very logical. He had a lot of comma sense.
She had a photographic memory but never developed it.
The two pianists had a good marriage. They always were in a chord.
I was struggling to figure out how lightning works then it struck me.
I really wanted a camouflage shirt, but I couldn’t find one.
You’re so punny.
Piers Anthony’s Xanth series.
What do you call a person rabid with wordplay? An energizer punny.
“You can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish. Unless of course, you play bass.” – Douglas Adams
“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx
Examples courtesy of Examples of Puns.
|Antanaclasis||Definition: A type of pun often found in slogans which repeats the same word, but that word will have different meanings.|
While very similar to epizeuxis, the repeated words using antanaclasis have different meanings and pop up in a sentence or passage while epizeuxis repeats the word (with the same meaning) in succession.
The benefits of using antanaclasis include:
It is used as a rhetorical device in poetry, prose and political speeches. Political leaders make use of this technique in order to persuade and draw the attention of audience.
May Use Other Literary Devices including:
| “I will dissemble myself in’t; and I would I were the first that ever dissembled in such a gown.” – Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
The critical word is “dissemble” and Viola is disguised and wishing she weren’t the first to act hypocritically in such a disguise.
“Viola: Save thee, friend, and thy music! Dost thou live by thy tabour?
Clown: No, sir, I live by the church.
Viola: Art thou a churchman?
Clown: No such matter, sir: I do live by the church; for I do live at my house, and my house doth stand by the church.” – Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
“Live” is the antanaclasis, as Viola asks if the clown makes a living with his drum, to which the clown replies that, no, his address is by the church, deliberately miscontruing her question. The clown then goes on to clarify that while he’s not a priest, his house is near the church, and therefore he lives by the church.
“…put out the light, then put out the light…” – Shakespeare, Othello
Othello will extinguish the candle and then he would end Desdemona’s life.
“…for many a thousand widows
Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands
Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down…” – William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act I, scene II
The Dauphin of France’s “jest” will end with the death of many Frenchmen, that mothers will lose their sons, that castles will be torn down.
“To England will I steal, and there I’ll steal”. – William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act V.
Pistol decides to flee to England and become a thief.
“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx
“In America, you can always find a party. In Soviet Russia, Party always find you!”
You can have fun in America. In Russia, you’ll probably end up in exile.
“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired, with enthusiasm.”
Work hard, or we’ll gladly fire you.
“Sorry, Charlie. StarKist doesn’t want tuna with good taste — StarKist wants tuna that taste good”. – StarKist Tuna commercials from 1961 to 1989
I always liked this commercial, lol. Charlie was always trying to impress the fishermen with his refinement, but the announcer always told Charlie that it’s not his discernment, but how yummy his flesh was.
“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.”
Bison try to intimidate a city in New York State while more bison intimidate yet more bison.
Examples courtesy of Literary Devices.net.
|Antistasis||Definition: The repetition of a word in a different or contrary sense. Often, simply synonymous with antanaclasis.|
May Use Other Literary Devices including:
A.k.a., refractio, antanadasis
|“In the stories we tell ourselves, we tell ourselves.” – Michael Martone, The Flatness and Other Landscapes
“He that composes himself is wiser than he that composes a book.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Why do so many people who can’t write plays write plays?” – James Thurber, “letter to Richard Maney”. Selected Letters of James Thurber, ed. by Helen Thurber and Edward Weeks
Examples courtesy of About: Antistasis.
|Double Entendre||Definition: A type of pun, it uses a word in one sense and then switches its meaning for comic effect, or simply establishes a context in which the word will have one interpretation and then uses it in another sense. Usually one of the meanings is risqué.|
|Rhetorically, double entendre uses “Rhetorical Device“antanaclasis, reusing the same word or sound, but changing the meaning.
If you’re curious about creating your own double entendres, explore Christopher’s post.
|Mountains and alcohol: the higher you are, the higher you get.
Dorothy Parker said, “If all the young women from all the Seven Sisters’ academies were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”
If you consider a reasonable mammal like the elk, once a year the females go into heat, the males start rutting, and if a male can battle past the other males and get to a female, she never has a headache, but with humans, the females never go into heat, the males are always rutting, and the females find that a major headache.
“A politician is asked to stand, wants to sit, and is expected to lie.” – Winston Churchill
“When given a choice between two evils, I typically choose the one I haven’t tried yet.” – Mae West
I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I’ll never know. – Groucho Marx
So to speak.
Examples courtesy of Thomas Christopher.
|Paronomasia||Definition: Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning.
A.k.a., adnominatio, agnominatio, agnomination
|A jesting friar punned “Errans mus”. – Puttenham
Erasmus as an “erring mouse”.
A pun is its own reword.
Examples courtesy of Brigham Young University.
|Rhyme||Definition: A pattern of words that contain similar sounds.
A repetition of identical or similar sounds in two or more different words.
Types of Rhyme include:
|Assonance||Definition: Two or more words close to one another repeat the same vowel sound but start with different consonant sounds. The repeated sound can appear anywhere in the words.|
|An easy way to remember the difference between the two is that assonance begins with a vowel whereas consonance begins with a consonant.
It’s very useful in both poetry and prose. Writers use it as a tool to enhance a musical effect in the text by using it for creating internal rhyme, which consequently enhances the pleasure of reading a literary piece. In addition, it helps writers to develop a particular mood in the text that corresponds with its subject matter.
May Use Other Literary Devices including:
It is the opposite of consonance.
|Men sell the wedding bells.
Go and mow the lawn.
Johnny went here and there and everywhere.
The engineer held the steering to steer the vehicle.
|Consonance||Definition: A consonant sound is repeated in words that are in close proximity. The repeated sound can appear anywhere in the words.|
|It is the opposite of assonance, which refers to the repetition of vowel sounds in quick succession.
An easy way to remember the difference between the two is that “consonance” begins with a consonant, whereas “assonance” begins with a vowel.
Two particular types of consonance involve:
Many common phrases, idioms, and tongue twisters as well as famous speeches use consonance.
|All’s well that ends well.
The early bird gets the worm.
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Curiosity killed the cat.
A blessing in disguise.
She sells seashells by the seashore.
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
“So I close in saying that I might have had a tough break — but I have an awful lot to live for!” – Lou Gehrig
“There were many more merry men,” Mary mused.
|Alliteration||Definition: Uses repeated sounds at the beginning of words to focus attention or convey an idea or emotion. Alliterative words are consecutive or close to each other in the text.||It focuses readers’ attention on a particular section of text, creating rhythm and mood and can have particular connotations. For example, repetition of the s sound often suggests a snake-like quality, implying slyness and danger.
May Use Other Literary Devices including:
Most alliterations are tautograms and vice versa.
Other Types of Alliteration include:
|“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
Bennie binged on buckets of big blue berries.
the buckle on the bible belt” – Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Inherit the Wind
Creates a soft, soothing effect of the “h” sounds and the sharp, percussive effect of the “b” sounds.
“Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary;
rare and radiant maiden;
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain…
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” – Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven
Uses alliteration by repeating w sounds to emphasize the weariness of narrator, and then r and s sounds in the second and third lines respectively. In the last two lines, d sound highlights the narrator’s hopelessness.
|Paromoion||Definition: A similarity of sound between words of syllables usually occurring between words in the same positions in parisonic members at the beginning (alliteration), at the end (homoioteleuton), or both at once (“euphuism).
A.k.a., paramoeon, paramoion
|O Tite, tute, Tati, tibi tanta Tyranne tulisti. – Quintus Ennius, Annals|
|Tautogram||Definition: Each word in the text starts with the same letter.|
|A tautogram is different from alliteration in that a tautogram is written and visual whereas an alliteration is phonetic, sound, however, most tautograms are still alliterations and vice versa.|
| Crazy child came calling.
Truly tautograms triumph, trumpeting trills to trounce terrible travesties.
Todd told Tom the termite to tactically trot through the thick, tantalisingly tasteful timber.
Brilliant, because bacon bites beat bruschetta.
Definition and examples courtesy of “Tautogram” (Wikipedia).
|Holorime||Definition: A form of identical rhyme in which the rhyme encompasses an entire line or phrase. It may be a couplet or short poem made up entirely of homophonous verses.|
|“In Ayrshire hill areas, a cruise, eh, lass?”
“Inertia, hilarious, accrues, hélas!” – Miles Kington, “A Lowlands Holiday Ends in Enjoyable Inactivity”
“Poor old Dali loped with an amazin’ raging cyst, as
|Rhyme Scheme||Definition: The pattern of rhymes at the end of each line of a poem or song. It is usually referred to by using letters to indicate which lines rhyme; lines designated with the same letter all rhyme with each other.
If the alternate words rhyme, it is an a-b-a-b rhyme scheme, which means a is the rhyme for lines 1 and 3 and b is the rhyme affected in lines 2 and 4.
|Roses are red||a|
|Violets are blue||b|
|Beautiful they all may be||c|
|But I love you||b|
|Bid me to weep, and I will weep||a|
|While I have eyes to see||b|
|And having none, yet I will keep||a|
|A heart to weep for thee||b|
- go show glow know though
Definition: Together, rhythm and rhyme refer to a recurring pattern of rhymes created by using words that produce the same or similar sounds in prose and poetry, creating a musical, gentle effect.
Combining rhythm + rhyme creates more musical lines that will be easier to remember.
|The Rhythm and Rhyme Scheme|
|I am a teapot||a|
|Short and stout;||b|
|This is my handle||c|
|And this is my spout.||b|
|When the water’s boiling||d|
|Hear me shout;||b|
|Just lift me up||e|
|And pour me out.||b|
|Buckle my shoe.||a|
|Shut the door.||b|
|Red sky at night,||a|
|Red sky at morning,||b|
|Sailor take warning.||b|
- Two or more rhyming words in the same line
- Rhyming words that appear in the middle of successive lines.
- A word at the end of a line that rhymes with a word in the middle of a successive line
A.k.a., middle rhyme
“Just turn me loose let me straddle my old saddle,
Underneath the western skies,
On my cayuse let me wander over yonder,
‘Til I see the mountains rise.” – Cole Porter, “Hollywood Canteen”
It would be good to have a hood in this weather.
I felt sad thinking of the day / That my dad left for the war.
In the end, what does it matter? / It’s all chatter, the things they say.
Types of Prosody:
- Syllabic Prosody
- Accentual Prosody
- Accentual-Syllabic Prosody
- Quantitative Prosody
Prosody also has multiple functions in both poetry and prose:
- Used with syntactic phrasing, word segmentation, sentence, accentuation, stress and phonological distinctions
- Use it to produce rhythmic and acoustic effects
- A sentence in a given perspective expresses more than just its linguistic meanings:
- Expressive content could be an identity of a speaker, his mood, age, sex and other extra linguistic features
- Pragmatic content encompasses the attitude of the speaker and listener and provides a relationship between a speaker and his/her discourse
- Reflect different features of a speaker and his utterance, emotional state, a form of utterance, presence of sarcasm or irony, and emphasis
Definition and examples courtesy of Literary Devices.net.
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
W-ith all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light…
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.” – Dylan Thomas, In My Craft or Sullen Art
An example of syllabic verse, which contains constrained or a fixed number of syllables with each line consisting of seven syllables except the final line, but does not follow a consistent stressed pattern.
gives the truth to summer’s lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
— when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man…” – e.e. cummings, “what if a much of a which of a wind”
An example of accentual verse in which the number of stressed syllables is four that remain constant. They are underlined, but the syllables in each line do not remain constant and change from seven to ten.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold” – Anne Bradstreet, “To My Dear and Loving Husband”
An example of accentual-syllabic verse, which focuses on both the number of syllables and number of accents in each poetic line. This iambic pentameter poem is one of the best examples of accented syllabic verse, as it contains five iambs in each line and follows strictly measured syllabic pattern.
Commonly found in Roman and classical Greek poetry and very rarely in English poetry.
This opening line of Virgil’s poem is a classic model of quantitative prosody. Look at the stress pattern that is irregular, as this type of prosody does not have measured syllables, but it measures the meter according to duration of time to pronounce a line.
|When Sr Joshua Reynolds died||catalectic|
|All Nature was degraded;|
|The King dropp’d a tear into the Queen’s Ear,||acatalectic|
|And all his Pictures Faded.” – William Blake, “Art and Artist”||hypercatalectic|
Making a meter catalectic can drastically change the feeling of the poem, and catalexis is often used to achieve a certain effect.
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful. – W. H. Auden, “Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love”
|When Sr Joshua Reynolds died||catalectic|
|All Nature was degraded;|
|The King dropp’d a tear into the Queen’s Ear,||acatalectic|
|And all his Pictures Faded.” – William Blake, “Art and Artist”||hypercatalectic|
Having a spondee as its second, fourth, or sixth foot.
A.k.a., broken-backed, broken-hipped
Charming child who changed the world.
A shark sliced through the water, charging toward the shore.
As whence the sun ‘gins his reflection
Shipwracking storms and direful thunders break,
So from that spring whence comfort seemed to come
Discomfort swells. Mark, King of Scotland, mark:
No sooner justice had, with valor armed,…
But the Norweyan lord, surveying vantage,
With furbished arms and new supplies of men,…
Till seven at night. To make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourselves
Till suppertime alone. While then, God be with you! – William Shakespeare, Macbeth
- Green indicates the sibilant words
The most basic kind of stanza is usually four lines per group, with the simplest rhyme scheme a-b-a-b being followed.
|The greedy paddy cat,||a|
|Chased after the mice;||b|
|She got so round and fat,||a|
|But it tasted so nice.”||b|
Golden happy ring girl.
I run and shoot, fast and accurate.
Definition and examples courtesy of Changing Minds.
Slang can be blunt or riddled with metaphor, and often quite profound.
Many slang terms become accepted into the standard lexicon and/or are borrowed between groups, and much of it dies out.
A.k.a., jargon, argot, patois, colloquialism, cant
It may apply to the nickname for a specific person, group of people, or place.
It is distinct from a pseudonym that is assumed as a disguise.
A.k.a., sotbriquet, soubriquet
|Emiye Menelik||Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia||“Emiye” = mother|
|Mahatma Gandhi||Mohandas Gandhi|
|Big Apple||New York City|
|Spooner said…||What He Meant to Say|
|fighting a liar||lighting a fire|
|you hissed my mystery lecture||you missed my history lecture|
|cattle ships and bruisers||battle ships and cruisers|
|nosey little cook||cosy little nook|
|a blushing crow||a crushing blow|
|tons of soil||sons of toil|
|our queer old Dean||our dear old Queen|
|we’ll have the hags flung out||we’ll have the flags hung out|
“I need a pencil sharpener,” said Tom bluntly.
“Oops! There goes my hat!” said Tom off the top of his head.
“I can no longer hear anything,” said Tom deftly.
“I have a split personality,” said Tom, being frank.
These examples (and lots more) were found at Tom Swifties.
A.k.a., monovocalic, homovocalic
Richard Lederer’s The Word Circus notes that some of the longest common univocalic words use the vowel e.
Paul Hellweg’s “Mary Had a Little Lamb” from Word Ways magazine:
“Meg kept the wee sheep,
The sheep’s fleece resembled sleet;
Then wherever Meg went
The sheep went there next;
He went where she needed her texts,
The precedent he neglected;
The pre-teen felt deep cheer
When the sheep entered there.”
Howard Bergerson’s “The Haiku of the Eyes” uses only i:
In twilight this spring
Girls with miniskirts will swim
In string bikinis.
Definition and examples courtesy of Word Daze’s “September Seventh: Univocalic Day“.
“Everyone to his own taste,” the woman said, as she kissed her cow.
“It’s all coming back to me now,” Captain Smith remarked after he spat into the wind.
“Eureka!” Archimedes said to the skunk.
“Capital punishment,” the boy said when his teacher seated him among the girls.
“I’ve been to see an old flame,” the young man said when he returned from Vesuvius.
“I hope I made myself clear,” said the water, as it passed through the filter.
“That’s my mission in life,” said the monk, as he pointed to his monastery.
“My business is looking good,” said the model.
Definition and examples are courtesy of A.J. Mittendorf.
It often creates a witty or comical effect.
4 Types of Zeugma:
(Depends on the location of the verb that functions as the shared connector.)
- Figure of Speech
- “Properly Punctuated and Grammar Explanation: Ellipsis”
A.k.a., syllepsis, grammatical syllepsis, semantic syllepsis, synezeugmenon, sillepsis, silepsis, syllempsis, conceptio, conglutinata conceptio, concepcio, double supply, change in concord
The zeugma weeping modifies both objects, but the first eyes is literal; the second, figurative as the heart can’t really weep.
Margaret opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy.
The zeugma opened modifies both objects, but the first door is literal; the second, figurative as an opened heart is more surgical.
“Miss Bolo … went straight home, in a flood of tears and a sedan-chair.” – Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers
The zeugma went…home modifies both objects, but the first a flood of tears is figurative; the second, literal.
She made my coffee and my day.
The zeugma is made which modifies coffee and day. In its first instance, made means preparing the coffee but the meaning shifts when applied to the second instance, made is understood to mean make an otherwise ordinary or dull day pleasingly memorable for someone.
She gave me a smile and a coffee.
The zeugma is gave which modifies smile and coffee. In its first instance, gave means she smiled at me but the meaning shifts when applied to the second instance, and gave is understood to mean handing a cup of coffee to me.
John and his license expired last week.
The zeugma is expired which modifies John and license. In its first instance, expired means John died but the meaning shifts when applied to the second instance, expired is understood to mean the license is no longer valid.
“Rend your heart, and not your garments.” – Joel 2:13
The zeugma rend modifies both objects, but the first rend is figurative; the second, literal.
“You held your breath and the door for me.” – Alanis Morissette
The zeugma is held which modifies breath and door. In its first instance, held means stop but the meaning shifts when applied to the second instance, held is understood to mean kept the door open.
“Fix the problem, not the blame.” – Dave Weinbaum
The zeugma is fix which modifies problem and blame. In its first instance, fix means solve but the meaning shifts when applied to the second instance, fix is understood to mean assign.
His boat and his dreams sank.
The zeugma is sank which modifies boat and dreams. In its first instance, sank means the boat was damaged and went beneath the surface of the water but the meaning shifts when applied to the second instance, sank is understood to mean destroyed.
Definition and examples courtesy of Brigham Young University.
It’s the opposite of zeugma.
Of no aid to the Numantines was bodily strength; of no assistance to the Carthaginians was military science; of no help to the Corinthians was polished cleverness; of no avail to the Fregellans was fellowship with us in customs and in language.” – Rhetorica ad Herennium, IV, xxvii.
“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” – John F. Kennedy
I couldn’t get to sleep because my report wasn’t finished, my psycho neighbor was playing with his musical clapper, the handgun my mother had given me was missing, and worst of all, my Sleep Number bed’s 5-part fully adjustable electric frame was stuck at 9. (Daily Trope).
And Thisbe, tarrying in mulberry shade, / His dagger drew, and died.
“With disease physical beauty fades, with age it dies.” – Rhetorica ad Herennium
“For this reason, to dwell with us in true flesh God came; marked with the stain of our flesh he could not be; and at length those who were his in his own blood he washed.”
Examples courtesy of Rhetorical Figures.
“If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then this parting was well made.” – Shakespeare, Julius Caeser
“Why should I now reproach you in any way ? If you are an upright man, you have not deserved reproach; if a wicked man, you will be unmoved.” – Rhetorica ad Herennium
“Why should I now boast of my deserts? If you remember them, I shall weary you; if you have forgotten them, I have been ineffective in action, and therefore what could I effect by words? – Rhetorica ad Herennium
“There are two things which can urge men to illicit gain: poverty and greed. That you were greedy in the division with your brother we know, that you are poor and destitute we
now see. How, therefore, can you show that you had no motive for the crime?” – Rhetorica ad Herennium
Examples are courtesy of Rhetorical Figures.
“Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.” – Francis Bacon
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