Rhetorical Terms. Abstract-Diction.

Abstract
refers to language that describes concepts rather than concrete images ( ideas and qualities rather than observable or specific things, people, or places). The observable or “physical” is usually described in concrete language.

Ad Hominem
In an argument, this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent’s ideas. It comes from the Latin meaning “against the man.”

Allegory
an extended narrative in prose or verse in which characters, events, and settings represent abstract qualities and in which the writer intends a second meaning to be read beneath the surface of the story; the underlying meaning may be moral, religious, political, social, or satiric. Examples: John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (Temptations of Christians) , Orwell’s Animal Farm (Russian Revolution), and Arthur Miller’s Crucible (“Red Scare”)

Alliteration
repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words that are close to one another: Mickey Mouse; Donald Duck; Daffy Duck; Suzy Sells Seashells …

Allusion
a reference to a well-known person, place, or thing from literature, history, etc. Example: Eden, Scrooge, Prodigal Son, Catch-22, Judas, Don Quixote, Mother Theresa

Analogy
Comparison of two similar but different things, usually to clarify an action or a relationship, such as comparing the work of a heart to that of a pump. An analogy is a comparison to a directly parallel case. Ex: Shells were to ancient cultures as dollar bills are to modern American culture. Ex: Running a business is like managing an orchestra. Ex: The heart is like a pump.

Anaphora
Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer’s point more coherent. Ex: “There was the delight I caught in seeing long straight rows. There was the faint, cool kiss of sensuality. There was the vague sense of the infinite….” Ex: “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. ” Churchill.

Anecdote
a short, simple narrative of an incident; often used for humorous effect or to make a point.

Annotation
Explanatory notes added to a text to explain, cite sources, or give bibliographical data.

Antithesis
the presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by word, phrase, clause, or paragraphs. Examples: “To be or not to be…” Shakespeare’s Hamlet “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country….” Kennedy “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Lincoln

Aphorism
a short, often witty statement of a principle or a truth about life. Examples: “Early bird gets the worm.” “What goes around, comes around..” “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Apostrophe
usually in poetry but sometimes in prose; the device of calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person or to a place, thing, or personified abstraction Ex: “For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel. Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him.” Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Argumentation
writing that attempts to prove the validity of a point of view or an idea by presenting reasoned arguments; persuasive writing is a form of argumentation

Assonance
repetition of vowel sounds between different consonants, such as in neigh/fade,

Asyndeton
Commas used (with no conjunction) to separate a series of words. The parts are emphasized equally when the conjunction is omitted; in addition, the use of commas with no intervening conjunction speeds up the flow of the sentence. Asyndeton takes the form of X, Y, Z as opposed to X, Y, and Z. Ex: "Be one of the few, the proud, the Marines.” Marine Corps Ex: “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” John F. Kennedy

Cacophony
harsh, awkward, or dissonant sounds used deliberately in poetry or prose; the opposite of euphony.

Caricature
descriptive writing that greatly exaggerates a specific feature of a person’s appearance or a facet of personality.

Colloquialism
a word or phrase (including slang) used in everyday conversation and informal writing but that is often inappropriate in formal writing (y’all, ain’t)

Coherence
quality of a piece of writing in which all the parts contribute to the development of the central idea, theme, or organizing principle

Concrete Language
Language that describes specific, observable things, people, or places, rather than ideas or qualities.

Connotation
implied or suggested meaning of a word because of its association in the reader’s mind.

Consonance
repetition of identical consonant sounds within two or more words in close proximity, as in boost/best; it can also be seen within several compound words, such as fulfill and ping-pong

Conundrum
a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun; it may also be a paradox or difficult problem

Deduction
the process of moving from a general rule to a specific example

Denotation
literal meaning of a word as defined

Description
the picturing in words of something or someone through detailed observation of color, motion, sound, taste, smell, and touch; one of the four modes of discourse

Diction
word choice, an element of style; it creates tone, attitude, and style, as well as meaning. Different types and arrangements of words have significant effects on meaning. An essay written in academic ______ would be much less colorful, but perhaps more precise than street slang.