Figures of Speech

Figures of Speech :

Figures of speech, as we have seen earlier, make the writing of prose or poetry pieces much more interesting. We have come across a few figures of speech earlier.

Simile : A figure of speech where two things are compared directly with ‘like’ or ‘as’.

For example :

Geeta was as swift as a cheetah on the racetrack.

Metaphor : A figure of speech where the comparison between two things is implied.

For example :

Be careful. This man is a snake in the grass. He will cheat you one day.

Alliteration : A figure of speech in which there is repetition of a sound more than twice in a line.

For example :

‘O Lord,’ the lonely lady lamented.

Hyperbole : A figure of speech where there is exaggeration.

For example :

I have told you a thousand times that you should not talk in class.

Onomatopoeia : A figure of speech where the word denotes a sound.

For example :

All was quiet, when ‘crash’ went a windowpane and ‘thud’ fell Mrs. Banita!

Personification : A figure of speech where non-human things are treated as if they are human.

For example :

The wind whispered its secrets in my ears.


Let us now learn a few more figures of speech.

When non-human things are addressed as humans or people who are dead are addressed as if they were alive, such a figure of speech is known as an apostrophe.

For example :

1. Fair daffodils we weep to see you haste away so soon.
2. ‘O wind, that sings so loud a song!’
3. ‘O death, layest thou thy cold hand on my beloved’s brow?’

An apostrophe should not be confused with a personification. In a personification we talk about a non-human thing as if it were human, whereas in an apostrophe, we talk to a non-human thing as if it were human.

For example :

The tree wrapped its branches lovingly over the orphans. (Personification)

O tree, do you wrap your branches lovingly over the orphans? (Apostrophe)


When two words of opposite meaning are used next to each other in a line, the figure of speech is known as oxymoron.

For example :

1. Richie Rich is a poor rich boy.
2. Akbar felt he was the wisest fool in the kingdom.


A figure of speech where two opposite ideas are present in one line is known as antithesis.

For example :

1. United we stand, divided we fall.

2. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone.

In these examples, you have two words of opposite meaning, but they do not occur next to each other.


In the examples given below, we get a feeling of a rising sense of importance. Such a figure of speech is known as a climax.

For example :

1. I came. I saw. I conquered.
2. She sighed. She wept. She wailed.
3. He liked the pen. He loved it. He cherished it.


In the examples given below, we get a feeling of a descent in importance. Such a figure of speech is known as an anti-climax.

It is often used to create a humorous effect.

For example :

1. The storm took away their house, their belongings and even their paintings.

2. The night was dark. It was quiet and it was boring.

3. Her mother beat her. She scolded her. She took away her nail polish.

Transferred Epithet

Transferred Epithet refers to a figure of speech in which the adjective or epithet is transferred from a person to a thing to which it does not really belong.

For example :

1. We spent a sleepless night.
2. The children had a joyous ride.

In the first example….We spent a sleepless night

We were sleepless, not the night, so the quality of ‘sleepless’ is transferred from ‘we’ to ‘night’. Such a figure of speech is known as a transferred epithet.

Identify the figures of speech in the following sentences.

  1. Gandhi, if only you could see your country now!
  2. Fickle fantasies take flight in the face of reality.
  3. A friend exaggerates man’s virtues and an enemy his vices.
  4. How could he be a king, a soldier and a peon?
  5. He was the wisest, brightest and the meanest of all.
  6. The surgeon’s knife is kindly cruel.
  7. The words were hurtful but they healed the rift between the brothers.
  8. She wept oceans of tears.
  9. We had a pleasant time by the river.
  10. Suspicions among thoughts are like bats among birds. They always fly by twilight.

Write your own example for the following figures of speech.


Related Pages :

  1. Simile
  2. Metaphor
  3. Alliteration
  4. Hyperbole
  5. Onomatopoeia
  6. Personification
  7. Apostrophe
  8. Oxymoron
  9. Antithesis
  10. Climax
  11. Anti-Climax
  12. Transferred Epithet

Figures of Speech

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