Figure of Speech

Figure of Speech is departure from the ordinary form of expression, or the ordinary course of ideas in order to produce a greater effect.

Figure-of-Speech may be classified as under:

1. Those based on resemblance

• Simile
• Metaphor
• Personification
• Apostrophe

2. Those based on Contrast:

• Antithesis
• Epigram

3. Those based on Association:

• Metonymy
• Synecdoche

4. Thos depending on Construction:

• Climax
• Anticlimax

Let us see one by one.


In Simile, a comparison is made between two object of different kinds which have at least one point in common.

The Simile is introduced by the word ‘as…as’.


• As active as quicksilver
• As afraid as a grasshopper
• As ageless as the sun
• As agile as a cat
• As agile as a monkey
• As alert as a bird
• As alike as two peas
• As alone as a leper
• As alone as Crusoe
• As ambitious as the devil

This Figure-of-Speech is widely used by us in our writings.




A Metaphor is an implied Simile. It does not, like a Simile, state that one thing is like another or acts as another, but takes that for granted and proceeds as if two things were one.

Thus when we say, ‘He fought as fiercely as a lion’, it is Simile.

But when we say, ‘He was a lion in the fight’, it is Metaphor.


• The camel is the ship of the desert.
• Life is a dream.
• The news was a dragger to his heart.
• Revenge is a kind of wild justice.


Every SIMILE can be compressed into a METAPHOR, and Every METAPHOR can be expanded into a SIMILE.


• Richard fought as fiercely as a loin. (Simile)
• Richard was a lion in the fight. (Metaphor)

• The waves thundered on the shore. (Metaphor)
• The waves broke on the shore with noise like a thunder.

This Figure-of-Speech is also widely used by us in our writings.


In Personification, inanimate objects and abstract notions are spoken of as having life and intelligence.


• Death lays its icy hands on King.
• Pride goes forth on horseback, grand and gay.
• Laughter is holding her both sides.


An Apostrophe is a direct address to the dead, to the absent, or to a personified object or idea. This figure is a special form of Personification.


• Milton! You should not be living at this hour.
• Friend! I know not which way I must look for comfort.
• Roll on! Thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll.
• Death! Where is thy sting? O Grave! Where is thy victory?

This Figure-of-Speech is also widely used by us in our writings.


In Hyperbole, a statement is made emphatic by overstatement.


• Why, man, if the river is dry, I am able to fill it with tears.
• Hmalet! You have not cleft my heart in twain.


Euphemism consists in the description of a disagreeable thing by an agreeable name.


• You are telling me a fairy tale. (You are telling me lies)
• He is gone to heaven. (He is dead)

This Figure-of-Speech is also widely used by us in our writings.


In Antithesis, a striking opposition or contrast of words or sentiments is made in the same sentence. It is employed to secure emphasis.


• Man proposes, but God disposes.
• Not that I loved Caesar less, but I loved Rome more.
• Speech is silver, but Silence is Gold.
• Many are called, but few are chosen.
• To err is human, but to forgive on divine.


Oxymoron is special type of Antithesis, whereby two contradictory qualities are predicted at once of the same thing.


• She accepted it as the kind cruelty of surgeon’s knife.
• His honor rooted in dishonor stood.
• Faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.
• So innocent arch, so cunningly simple.



An Epigram is a brief pointed saying frequently introducing antithetical ideas which excite surprise and arrest attention.


• The child is the father of the man.
• Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
• In the midst of life, we are in death.
• Art lies in concealing art.
• He makes no friend who never made a foe.
• A man can not be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
• The proper study of mankind is man.


Irony is made of speech in which the real meaning is exactly the opposite of that which is literally conveyed.


• No doubts but you are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

This Figure-of-Speech is also widely used by us in our writings.

Figures of Speech - 2Advanced EnglishHOME PAGE