Diction: Definition, Types, and Examples of Diction in Speaking and Literature

Diction is basically how a person chooses their words or language while writing or speaking. It is vital to select words appropriately while speaking or writing since accurate and right words helps a writer/ speaker to express their thoughts, opinions, or ideas clearly. Your diction typically determines the quality of your output while writing or speaking. Choosing a poor style inhibits effective communication, whereas choosing words appropriately makes you a good writer or speaker. This article discusses diction, the various types of diction, and the examples of diction in literature and in speaking. Take a close look.


Diction Definition

What Is Diction?

Diction refers to the speaking/writing style or the choice of words that a speaker or writer uses. The choice of words has a significant effect on the quality of a speech or writing. Well-chosen words help a writer or a speaker to pass a message clearly and easily. On the other hand, poor word choice can cause message misinterpretation by the readers or listeners. Furthermore, it might even divert an audience.

Qualities of Good Diction

First and foremost, the words a writer or speaker chooses must be accurate and right. This is vital since it helps to prevent message misinterpretation. Secondly, the words must go in line with the context within which the writer or speaker uses them. Thirdly, the words should be easy to understand, which helps a reader/listener to understand the message being conveyed clearly. Using complex words might put off your listeners and readers.

Types of Diction

Formal diction

This diction entails the use of formal language, which is used to address formal situations. In this type of diction, sophisticated language is used, and it also follows grammatical rules. People use this diction to write articles, address audiences, make formal presentations, or even address a press conference. Additionally, you can also find formal diction in legal papers, business documents, and professional text. Generally, formal diction is typically used in informal settings.

Informal diction

Informal diction refers to the use of informal, casual, and conversational words while speaking or writing. Unlike formal diction, it is more relaxed, and it is what people use in real life to interact with their colleagues and friends. In writing, you can use informal diction to write personal letters and emails to friends and relatives. Some writers also use informal diction when writing poems, short stories, and novels.

Colloquial diction

This refers to the use of phrases or words that are used and understood by a particular community or region. These words are used in day-to-day speech, but they vary from one region or community to the other. At times, these words become common such that they spread to the other areas and are even added to the dictionary. An example of such words is ain’t, whose origin are the US rural areas. Other colloquial words include; ‘y’ll,’ ‘gonna.’

Slang diction

Slang could be shortened words, new words, or modified words that originate from a particular subgroup or culture. At times they help people identify with a specific group since some slang words are used by a particular ethnic group, economic group, or social group. However, some of these words become known to the broader population and are even added to the dictionary. Examples include ‘for real,’ meaning honesty, ‘a creep,’ meaning a weird person.

Concrete diction

This is the use of words or phrases that listeners can easily understand because they are common knowledge, and they can create images in their heads once they hear them. Basically, with these words, the listener can visualize what the speaker or writer is talking about. Words like dog, tree, and TV are concrete words since once the listener hears them, they can already form a picture of what they look like.

Abstract diction

This refers to the use of words to describe feelings, thoughts, emotions, ideas, and concepts. Unlike concrete diction, abstract diction describes things that are intangible and without physical presence.

Examples of Diction

Diction Examples in Speaking

Formal diction examples

  • The bank recorded an increase in profit last year.
  • I intend to take you through the economics unit this semester.
  • Would you please pass me those books and pens?

Informal diction examples

  • I want to go clubbing tonight. I will see you tomorrow at work.
  • Which country are you visiting over the Christmas holidays.

Colloquial diction examples

  • I am gonna become the best player in the world. (‘gonna’ is a colloquial word that means I am going to)
  • I welcome y’all for my wedding. (Y’ all is a colloquial word which means you all)

Slang diction examples

  • I met a bonkers man on my way to church. (The slang word is ‘bonkers,’ and it means mad)
  • The lady hiding in the bathroom is a creep. (The slang word is ‘creep,’ and it means weird)

Concrete diction examples

  • I brought my child a phone. (‘ Phone’ is concrete)
  • My dog jumped over the fence after seeing a thief. (Dog’ is concrete)

Abstract diction example

  • After doing much-singing practice, I feel I am a good singer. (Feel’ expresses a feeling)
  • Mary loves her mother so much. (Love’ is an emotion)

Diction Examples in Literature

The Great Gatsby by F.Scott

This novel adopts a formal diction. The book also has grammatically correct sentences. Additionally, it talks about money and class hence targets a particular class of people.

  • She said that she hears nothing and a few seconds later, she set off for home. They went to the door with her and stood near some light.”

(The excerpt from the book follows grammatical rules and adopts a formal diction.)

The school

Donald wrote this novel. The book uses colloquialism since it addresses things as though they are human beings.

  • The trees died, I don’t know why they died.”

The bible (Ps 103)

  • As far as the east is from the west, that is just how much the Lord your God loves you.”

(The excerpt shows abstract diction when it talks about love)

Diction entails word choice by a writer or a speaker. There are various types of diction, including formal diction, slang diction, informal diction, concrete diction, colloquial diction, and abstract diction. A good diction should have accurate and easily understandable words.

Diction Infographic

Diction: Definition, Types, and Examples of Diction in Speaking and Literature