60+ Rhetorical Devices with Examples for Effective Persuasion

Last Updated on May 12, 2023

Rhetorical devices are essential tools in the world of communication, aiding speakers and writers in persuading or engaging their audience effectively. These powerful techniques help convey meaning and evoke emotions, allowing individuals to present their ideas from a specific perspective. As components of the broader concept of rhetoric – the art of effective communication – rhetorical devices can be found in various forms, including language structure, sound, and imagery.

There may be many times that you will hear the use of rhetorical devices in an English conversation or see it in written text, but it can be confusing to understand if you are not sure how they are used. In this article, we are going to look at what rhetorical devices are and what different types of rhetorical devices there are with useful examples.

Rhetorical Devices

What Are Rhetorical Devices?

A rhetorical device is a way of phrasing some words or sentences so that it evokes a specific kind of emotion. It is a great way to get your opinion across and make people believe what you say is a clear absolute truth.

Though history, the best and most prolific writers and speakers have used and developed a plethora of rhetorical devices. People such as Cicero and Demosthenes come to mind or Abraham Lincoln. The last great orator who excelled at using rhetorical devices was the late, great Martin Luther King.

Utilizing rhetorical devices, authors and speakers can appeal to logic or reason (logos), emotions (pathos), or credibility (ethos). Often, these strategies can make a point more convincing, thereby enhancing comprehension and impact on the audience. From metaphors and hyperbole to alliteration and anaphora, numerous rhetorical devices exist, catering to a diverse range of communication styles and purposes.

By mastering the use of rhetorical devices, individuals can significantly improve their writing and speaking abilities, adapting their approach according to the context and target audience. Familiarity with rhetorical devices enables an understanding of when and how to apply specific strategies for maximum effect, ultimately strengthening one’s overall communication prowess.

Types of Rhetorical Devices

Repetition and Sound Devices

Various rhetorical devices use the power of repetition and sound to create emphasis, emotion, and catch the reader’s attention. Here are some common examples:

  • Anaphora: The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. Example: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets.”
  • Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds in words that are close together. Example: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
  • Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds in words that are close together. Example: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”
  • Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds in words that are close together. Example: “Pitter patter of little feet.”
  • Onomatopoeia: Words that imitate the sounds they represent. Example: “The bees buzzed, and the brook babbled.”

Figurative Language

Figurative language uses words or expressions in a non-literal way to create a vivid picture, emphasize a point, or evoke emotions. Some common examples include:

  • Metaphor: A comparison between two unlike things without using “like” or “as”. Example: “Time is a thief.”
  • Simile: A comparison between two unlike things using “like” or “as”. Example: “Her smile was as warm as the sun.”
  • Personification: Giving human qualities to non-human things. Example: “The wind whispered through the trees.”
  • Hyperbole: Deliberate exaggeration for effect. Example: “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.”
  • Irony: A contrast between expectation and reality. Example: “The fire station burned down.”
  • Oxymoron: A combination of contradictory words. Example: “Deafening silence.”
  • Synecdoche: Using a part of something to represent the whole. Example: “All hands on deck.”

Persuasive Techniques

Rhetorical devices can be used to persuade an audience by appealing to different aspects of human reasoning. Some well-known persuasive techniques include:

  • Logos: Using logic, reason, statistics, and facts to persuade.
  • Pathos: Appealing to emotions to persuade.
  • Ethos: Establishing credibility and trust by referring to authorities or ethical values.
  • Antithesis: Contrasting ideas for emphasis. Example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
  • Allusion: Making a reference to another work, event, or person to create a connection or make a point. Example: “He was a real Romeo with the ladies.”
  • Analogy: A comparison between two similar things to explain a complex concept. Example: “A heart is like a pump.”
  • Euphemism: Using a mild or indirect expression to replace a harsh or blunt one. Example: “Passed away” instead of “died.”
  • Parallelism: Repeating a grammatical structure for emphasis or balance. Example: “Like father, like son.”

These are just a few examples of the many rhetorical devices that writers and speakers use to convey their messages effectively and memorably. By using repetition, sound patterns, figurative language, and persuasive techniques, communicators can engage their audience, emphasize key points, and achieve the desired effect.

Rhetorical Devices: History and Theory

Greek Origins

Rhetoric has its origins in ancient Greece and has long been linked with public speaking and persuasion. In the Classical period of ancient Greece, around the 5th century BC, rhetors or rhetoricians taught the art of public speaking to fellow citizens in Greek republics. This practice later extended to teaching the children of the wealthy in the Roman Empire. The study of rhetoric developed as a means of communication and persuasion, central to the Greek educational system.

Aristotle’s Modes of Persuasion

A key figure in the history of rhetoric is the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who contributed immensely to the development of rhetorical theory. Aristotle outlined three modes of persuasion in his work, “Rhetoric.” These three modes are:

  • Logos: This mode focuses on the logical appeal of an argument, using reasoning and evidence to persuade the audience. Aristotle believed that a well-constructed argument based on reason and facts would lead to more effective persuasion.
  • Pathos: In this mode, rhetoricians employ emotional appeals to provoke audiences’ feelings and engage their emotions. By targeting the audience’s values, desires, and fears, pathos helps create a connection between the speaker and the audience.
  • Ethos: This mode emphasizes the credibility and character of the speaker. Aristotle argued that persuading an audience requires establishing the speaker’s trustworthiness, expertise, and moral character.

In addition to these modes of persuasion, Aristotle also introduced the concept of a thesis, which is the central argument or main point of a speech or text. This element serves as the foundation upon which the speaker’s persuasive efforts are constructed.

By understanding and applying Aristotle’s modes of persuasion, today’s writers and speakers can increase the effectiveness of their communications, making them more compelling and persuasive. This foundation remains essential for those interested in the history and theory of rhetoric.

Rhetorical Devices List

Common Rhetorical Devices

Here is a list of rhetorical devices most commonly used:

1. Alliteration

Another name for alliteration is tongue twisters. You might remember them from your youth. Any time you notice that a few words, one after the other share the first few, initial consonant sounds you have yourself an example of alliteration. But alliteration isn’t only used in children’s tongue twisters, such as “she sells seashells“, they are also used by brands to make their names much more memorable, for example, “Krispy Kreme“.

2. Allusion

Every time you make a reference to some places, events, or a person you are making an allusion. For example, one could say, ”I’m not Sherlock Holmes to figure that out”. It is helpful when one tries to get a point across because you can reference something well known and not explain something at great length.

3. Amplification

Repeating the same word one after the other, combined with an adjective or two makes it seems stronger, more significant. That is the rhetorical device called amplification. For example, “his face is red, so so red“. It could indicate that the colour in somebody’s face is of an extraordinary shade of red, to a worrying degree.

4. Analogy

Sometimes the easiest way to explain things is to strike a parallel with some other thing that is quite similar to it. But one has to be careful with analogies, not every analogy is true One of the most basic logical fallacies is the Conclusion from Analogy. An analogy would be, “She is as pale as a ghost“.

5. Anaphora

This is one of the rhetorical devices that Shakespeare loved. Anaphora is defined as repeating a single word or a phrase in successive phrases. For example, “some glory in their birth, some in their skill, some in their wealth“. The repetition of the word some in our examples gives the quote its rhythm, playfulness, and power. It does not come as a surprise that anaphora is a staple device for many famous poets. But poets aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this device, any learned orator can.

6. Antanagoge

Sometimes referred to as a backhand compliment, an antanagoge is when you combined a positive and a negative statement together. For example, “this summer season was dry, but not as dry as the one back in 2012.”

7. Antimetabole

Repeating words in verse order is what antimetabole is all about. One of the most famous examples comes from the father of philosophy, Socrates. he said, “eat to live, not live to eat“.

8. Antiphrasis

This device is used for ironic, sarcastic and humoristic effect. One of the biggest proponents of this rhetorical device was the French nobleman, and maxim writer, Baron De Rouchefoult. It usually makes fun of opposites. So you can call a really ugly painting, such a Mona Lisa, or a very slow person, Usain Bolt.

9. Antithesis

Any time you make a connection between two events, people or things you are using this rhetorical device. The most celebrated and repeated example of antithesis was Neil Armstrong’s speech after he set foot on the moon. Another example would be a quote from the famous German writer Goethe, who said, “love, is ideal, marriage real“. It means that it is one thing to love someone, but spending your entire life with a person is something completely different, real without illusions.

10. Appositive

If you want to describe a noun better, with another noun, you are using appositive. For example, Alexander of Macedonia, master general. In this example, the master general is the appositive and describes something noteworthy about this historical figure.

11. Enumeratio

Enumeratio is when you try to make some sort of point my numbering things one after the other. Salespeople often use this when they want to sell you something. They will list every feature the item has in an attempt to make you agree with them. They hope to spark your interest in purchasing this item that way.

12. Epithet

An epithet is a word that summarises the most important thing in a person or event. Throughout history, this has been used for propaganda purposes. There are a lot of racially and sexually charged epithets that have brought a lot of pain and suffering to a lot of minorities.

13. Epizeuxis

You can hear this rhetorical device out of the mouths of children, more often than adults. When you repeat the same word, again and again, to add emphasis to an emotion or state of mind you got an epizeuxis. For example, a child might say this when it sees a plate full of vegetables, “this plate is yucky, yucky, yucky.”

14. Hyperbole

Another term of phrase for hyperbole is an exaggeration. For examples, when you are bored and don’t want to do a specific task you might say, “This will take forever.

15. Litotes

This rhetorical device litotes is used to same something positive with the use of a word or phrase usually reserved for a negative context. For example, one could say “I’m not unfamiliar with it“. Or to translate, I know a lot about the thing that you are talking about. “You are not average player, aren’t you?” which means you are nothing but average. Or one could say “This is not my first rodeo” which means, trust me I have a lot more experience than you give me credit for.

16. Metanoia

To make the statement more powerful, you correct the phrase you just used with another one to add emphasis. For example, one could say “This is the best burger in town, even in the whole state.

17. Metaphor

Metaphor is used to compare to things that don’t immediately spring to mind to give one of those things an added quality. For example “Brevity is the soul of wit“. By this, we mean that saying as much as we can with as little words as we can is a mark of true intelligence.

18. Anacoluthon

Every time there is a sudden break, usually mid-sentence, an anacoluthon is formed. The first part of anacoluthon is never finished because the second part exceeds it in importance. For example “I was cleaning my garden with -She screamed

19. Anadiplosis

This rhetorical device is when you repeat a word or multiple words that have ended one sentence or grammatical structure at the beginning of your next sentence. For example “I was driving the car. The car that I bought with my own money

20. Anastrophe

Anastrophe is the willing inverse of the natural word order in a sentence. This is because you want to put what is most important at the end of your thought. One popular user of this rhetorical device is the fictional, but widely beloved Jedi Master Yoda. He uses multiple rhetorical devices, but anastrophe is certainly his favorite. Some of the most known Yoda quotes are indeed anastrophes. For example, “Persuade you, I shall” or “The path to the dark side, fear is

21. Antanaclasis

When you repeat the same word again and again in a few sentences that follow each other, but the repeated word changes meaning in each new sentence or part of a grammatical structure. Probably the most known example of this rhetorical device comes from one of the greatest citizens the USA has ever had, Benjamin Franklin. While debating an opponent once Franklin reportedly said: “ Your argument is sound… all sound“. A wonderful piece of wit combined with the right kind of rhetorical device. He is playing with the meanings of the word sound, which could be something stable and correct and also just noise.

22. Apophasis

Apophasis comes from the Greek phrase and it means “To say no“. It is the closest rhetorical device to irony and it is accomplished when a speaker brings something up by denying it. For example “I’m not saying that this article is not a great work of art“.

23. Aporia

Every clear, rhetorical expression of doubt is an aporia. Aporia comes in many forms but the most celebrated example is a quote from Shakespeare that almost everyone who went to school as quoted at least once. This example is from Hamlet and it says “To be or not to be, that is the question.

24. Apostrophe

Every time a speaker goes from addressing one individual and abruptly switches his attention to another person or an item is called apostrophe. This other person or item doesn’t even need to be present. Apostrophes can be quite common in an internal monologue a character has in a movie or a novel. For example “My dear Sun you torture me, What power this heavenly body possesses over us, oh Lord“.

25. Asyndeton

One of the more common and simple rhetorical devices. Many famous sayings and quotes belong to the asyndeton family of rhetorical devices. Asyndeton is the removal of conjunctions between grammatical structures or sentences. Probably the most notable example is the quote by Julius Caezar after he usurped his own city. The quote reads “I came, I saw, I conquered“. Quite poetic for such a mass-murdering, genocidal maniac.

26. Auxesis

Many writers, of both serious and imaginative books, are though to use Auxesis. The word is greek and it means growth. It is the gradual increase in power and emphasis from one word to the next, erupting at the end of the sentence with its most powerful phrase or word. An example of auxesis would be “The metal felt warm, then hot, then burning” or “I looked, I smiled, I laughed, I died from laughter“.

27. Bdelygmia

One of the rare examples of rude or abusive language in the whole field of rhetorical devices. A bdelygmia is a rant full of abuses. Nowadays, you are most likely to encounter them at sporting events, especially if the reporter interview a player that has just lost an important game or derby. For example “If I was raised any differently I might call our coach a complete imbecile incapable of calling the simplest of plays at the right time. Yeah, a total no show, waste of time of a human being“.

28. Cacophony

This rhetorical device cacophony is when you use harsh words to add some effect to your statement or to grab the attention of the person you are addressing. For example, a frustrated lover might say “Every breath that I take without you close to me feels like a thousand daggers taring my insides apart“. It might sound cruel, manipulative or harsh, but that is the point. Others might see it as a guilt trip, but one lover has the intention to show the other just how painful every moment that they spend apart really is for him or her.

29. Chiasmus

In this rhetorical device Chiasmus, you reverse the order of words, whole grammatical structures or concepts and repeat them in reverse order. One of the most notable examples comes from the Christian savior, half man half God, Jesus Christ. He said to his twelve apostles one time “Don’t judge unless you want others to judge you“.

30. Commoratio

Every time you are repeating yourself with different words you are using commoratio. Or in other words, whenever you want to say the same thing, but with different words over and over again you are using commoratio. For some reason, British comedy troupes are fond of this rhetorical device. Most notably Monty Python. One such example would be “He is crazy, nuts, off his rocker, goofy, silly, gone, gonzo, totally gone, whipped like a bat

31. Diacope

Borrowing its name from the Greek phrase which means to cut in two, this rhetorical device is the repeating of one word or a whole grammatical construction separated by another word. For example “In times like these, it is always good to remember that, there were always times like these” In this example times like these are the grammatical structure that keeps repeating, and the middle part is the divider.

32. Hendiadys

This rhetorical device entails the use of a conjunction between two words that grammatical isn’t really all that necessary. One such example would be “I’m starting to feel sick and tired of all your rambling

33. Dehortatio

This rhetorical device comes from the Latin word and means dissuasion. It is used when you want to give someone a piece of strong advice on what not to do. It has an opposite brother or sister, whatever you want to call it in the family of rhetorical devices called adhortatio. One of the most known examples came from the famous Nazi fighter and British prime minister, Winston Churchill, when he in a speech to the nation, during Nazi air raids said “Never, never, never give in. No matter how small and insignificant the thing might seem. Never, never give in

34. Diatyposis

This rhetorical device comes from Greek. It was probably developed by some of Socrate’s famed sophist opponents. If you want to use an elegant rhetorical device that will help you dictate rules to your audience, this device might be ideal. As in this example from the great eastern philosophical work, Tao Te Ching “When you rule, don’t try to control. When you think, keep it simple

35. Distinctio

Coming from the Latin word that means differentiation. When a speaker wants to leave all ambiguity about a certain word a said and precisely and clearly let his audience know what he is saying by a particular word. This rhetorical device comes up often in political speeches, for example, “By enemies I mean all of those who didn’t join our cause during the Second World War“.

36. Epanorthosis

Coming from the Greek phrase meaning self-correction. One uses it when one tries to take something back that was earlier said. Or, when one wants to clarify something one has said earlier. This is most often done because the speaker realizes that the thing that he ha said previously didn’t have the desired effect. By applying epanorthosis, the speaker adds more emphasis and power to the things he has previously said to his audience. For example, a speaker might say “All of, thousands no tens of thousands here today.

37. Hyperbaton

This rhetorical device has many cousins. It is of the family of rhetorical devices that inverse the order of words in a sentence or any other grammatical structure, to add strength and emphasis to the most important part of said structure. Yoda, one of the most popular fictional characters of all time, likes to use this device, as well as many romantic poets. An example of this device would be “One swallow does not a summer make.

38. Meiosis

It comes from Greek and it means to make smaller. The use is similar to its Greek origins. It denotes any form of description that is designed to lessen the value or importance of a thing. It can seem similar to litotes but while litotes is more sarcastic, meiosis is far more direct. An example of meiosis might be “It is only a scratch“. In the case mentioned, the wound the speaker suffered is probably a serious or grave one, but he isn’t discouraged by it or doesn’t want to let his opponents know just how much damage he took. That is why he or she used meiosis to both encourage himself and discourage his or her opponents.

39. Paronomasia

The closes thing to an explanation for this rhetorical device is to claim that it is indeed a sort of ancient word for a pun. Paronomasia that emphasizes the phonic similarities between two words. It can be very prevalent among wordplay, for both adults and children. Some examples are “meet” and “meat”, or “old lord”. It is a great device to use when one wants his words to be ambiguous. One can find this device in many epic poets as well as Shakespeare. They usually use it in the mouth of one of the villains, to mask his true intents.

40. Pleonasm

As we have seen in earlier examples, word repetition and especially its rhythm capture out attention ever so easily. Pleonasm is another rhetorical device that capitulates on this mysterious habit of the human mind and ears. While others repeated words themselves, pleonasm is focused on repeating the same ideal, through multiple grammatical structures, but always trying to express it through different words or phrases. Naturally, and logically, Pleonasm comes from the greek and it means to be excessive. An example of a pleonasm would be “Our Czar, our ruler, our leader, would like to be brief on the western campaign“.

41. Polyptoton

Coming from, you guessed it, Greek it means many fallings. It is a device where you repeat words that share an origin, like judge and judging or beat and beaten. Repeating those words of equal origin gives the sentence of phrase its signature strength. Some of the most known examples of polyptoton come from religious texts and are really easy to memorize because of their rhythmical setup. The most known example to most people on the western Hemisphere would probably come out of the New Testament, from Matthew’s gospel “Don’t judge, or you will be judged yourselves.”

42. Polysyndeton

This rhetorical device comes from Greek and roughly translating it, it would mean bound many together. It is accomplished with one conjunction, that is repeated a number of times to combine many phrases or grammatical structures together. The most used conjunction used is probably – and. We find numerous examples of polysyndeton in children when they start to enumerate things. For example “My mom has beauty, and courage and strength and brains and knows how to cook and is fast

43. Scesis Onomaton

Any sentence that is made out of exclusively nouns and adjectives is a scesis onomaton. Sometimes prepositions are added, but verbs are always excluded in the scesis onomaton. An example would be “That is an opportunity, a chance, a shot

44. Sententia

The majority of moral sayings, be it a proverb maxim or aphorism is a form of this rhetorical device. Or in other words, any expression of conventional wisdom. But it has to be expressed in a brief, short sentence, with the most important point expressed at the end. It comes from the Latin word that means sentence. An example of this rhetorical device would be “War is superior to a bad peace” or “Only a man who thinks himself miserable is indeed miserable

45. Sentential Adverbs

This rhetorical device is used when we want to give, power or emphasis to an adverb. It is either a single word or a quick and easy phrase that breaks the syntax of the sentence or grammatical construction. So with the help of this word or phrase, we add emphasis on both the word before the break and after the break. An example of sentential adverb would be “She did not, in fact, divorce her husband” or “He won’t, surely, give away his inheritance

46. Syllepsis

This rhetorical device comes to use from Greek and it means – a taking. You use this device when you want to give a one-word different meaning than it usually has in relation to other words in the sentence or grammatical structure. A lot of people and even the most astute rhetoricians confuse it with Zeugma. But we won’t get into details here. They can be and usually are used interchangeably. An example of this rhetorical device might be “His voice reaches so high, and goes way over his smug head

47. Symploce

There are many examples of rhetorical devices that use repetition as a means of getting a point across. We all, for some evolutionary reason, like melody and rhythm and rhetoricians know that. One of the most rhythmical and repetitive devices is symploce. To use this device you have to repeat the same word or phrase at the beginning of a couple of continues sentences. But that isn’t all. You also have to repeat a word at the end of each fo those continuous sentences. But it can’t be any word: The word has to have a similar sound to the one you are using at the beginning of those sentences. In other words, you can call symploce a fusion of two devices we have previously mentioned, anaphora and epistrophe. One of the most notable examples come from the famous wit of CK Chesterton. He said “The lunatic is not the person who lost his mind. The lunatic is the person who lost everything, but his mind

48. Synathroesmus

Coming from the Greek word for collection this entry in our list of rhetorical devices is similar to the device accumulatio. But while some devices use the accumulation of words to praise a person or event, this rhetorical device is used to put someone down or to put it harshly, verbally mutilate them. A lot of people who are prone to rants (and let’s face it, Youtube is full of fanboys, and fangirls, who love to rant about every single detail that they like about a certain intellectual property that they allegedly adore) use this device unknowingly. An example of this device would be “The movie is a soulless, schlocky, amalgamation of everything that is wrong with pop culture” or “He is a no-good, clumsy awkward, disease-stricken ape of a man

49. Synecdoche

This rhetorical device might have a complicated-sounding name, but it is anything but. Every time you use a part of a sentence or grammatical structure to refer or represent the whole, you are using synecdoche. The same goes for things, people or events. So when people refer to America as a country, they could mean both the US and the two continents. But experience teaches us that they are probably referring to the nation. It is just easier to say one word than the whole structure, The United States of America. It is easy to confuse this device with a metonymy. But remember, metonymy addresses something with a term that is similar, while synecdoche uses a part of something to refer to the whole thing. Like boots to soldiers or wheels for cars.

50. Tapinosis

Another on our growing list of rhetorical devices that are often used, but most often by those that don’t know what they are in fact doing. Another phrase for this rhetorical device would be calling somebody names. It denotes vulgar, or derogatory language. You can hear examples of Tapinosis in children when they fight or call each other all kinds of silly names. Another name for it is humiliatio. But that doesn’t mean it is just a device you use one on one. It can be delivered in speeches as well. There is plenty of tapinosis in every fiery or mad general who addresses his novice recruits. Like in the movie Full Metal Jacket.

An example of such a device would be “Listen up you maggots. You are nothing but momma’s boys, good or nothing, disgraces of manhood, pieces of dog crap“.

51. Tricolon

Even if the name implies it, this device is not just three colons stacked next to each other. It is indeed, three similar words or phrases, expressed one after the other. This is done to give the description of a thing or person its sort of sense of completeness. A lot of writers use this to give the things they re describing more layers or dimensions, like a word for sight, smell, and hearing. It comes from Greek and it means three units. An example of this rhetorical device would be “I need three things in a woman. Beauty, jealousy, and no brain

52. Topographia

In rhetorics, topographia refers to a lavish or even poetic description of a place. So every time you encounter a detailed description of something in a book you know you are reading an example of topographia.

53. Pysma

Coming from the Greek word for question, this device is used by a speaker when we want to discredit someone with a series of aggressive questions that the opponent can’t answer all at once. It is like a torrent of question marks that devours him or her wholly. An example would be “Who did your party support in 45? On which side of the war were you back then? Were you intending to defend our freedom? The freedom of the world?”

54. Logos

Logos is a rhetorical device that refers to the use of logic, reasoning, and evidence to persuade an audience. It is often used in argumentative writing or speeches to appeal to the audience’s rationality and intellect. Logos can take many forms, including statistics, facts, expert opinions, and logical arguments. The goal of using logos is to convince the audience that the argument being presented is based on sound reasoning and evidence, and is therefore more likely to be true.

55. Pathos

Pathos is a rhetorical device that refers to the use of emotional appeal to persuade an audience. It is often used in writing or speeches to evoke a particular emotional response from the audience, such as sympathy, anger, or fear. Pathos can be achieved through the use of vivid language, imagery, personal anecdotes, and other techniques that appeal to the audience’s emotions. The goal of using pathos is to create a strong emotional connection between the audience and the argument being presented, which can make the audience more receptive to the message and more likely to take action.

56. Ethos

Ethos is a rhetorical device that refers to the credibility or trustworthiness of the speaker or writer. It is often used in writing or speeches to establish the author’s authority or expertise on a particular subject. Ethos can be established through various means, such as a speaker’s reputation, professional credentials, or personal experience. The goal of using ethos is to persuade the audience that the argument being presented is credible and trustworthy, and that the author or speaker is knowledgeable and reliable. By establishing ethos, the author or speaker can gain the audience’s confidence and increase the likelihood that the audience will be persuaded by the argument.

Unusual Rhetorical Devices

57. Kairos

Kairos refers to the opportune moment for making a persuasive argument or taking action. It’s about understanding the context and seizing the right moment to maximize the impact of your message. For example, a political candidate might use kairos to address a controversial topic when public opinion is shifting in their favor.

58. Anacoluthon

Anacoluthon is a deliberate disruption of the syntax within a sentence, often used to emphasize a point or create a sense of confusion. It could be a sudden change in the grammatical structure or an interruption mid-sentence. For instance: “You really need to – can’t you see what’s happening here?”

59. Hypophora

Hypophora is when a speaker or writer raises a question and then immediately answers it. This rhetorical device can be used to guide readers through a series of thoughts or to make a point more emphatically. Example: “Why do we continue to pollute our environment? The answer lies in our dependence on fossil fuels.”

60. Antiphrasis

Antiphrasis is the use of a word or phrase with a meaning that is opposite to or contradicts its usual meaning, often for ironic or humorous effect. For example, describing a chaotic situation as “organized chaos” or calling a large person “Tiny.”

Device Definition
Epithet A descriptive word or phrase that characterizes a person or thing, often used to emphasize a certain aspect. Example: “Alexander the Great”
Litotes A figure of speech in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite. Example: “She’s not the friendliest person” (implying she’s unfriendly)
Antanagoge Balancing a negative statement or event with a positive one to lessen the impact. Example: “The car’s old, but it runs well”

61. Dysphemism

Dysphemism is the use of harsh or derogatory language to describe something or someone, often for the purpose of criticism or humor. For example, calling taxes “government theft” or referring to a leader as a “tyrant.”

62. Asterismos

Asterismos is a rhetorical device where a word or phrase is placed at the beginning of a sentence or paragraph to draw attention to the following information. For instance: “Listen, everyone here needs to understand the rules.”

63. Paregmenon

Paregmenon is the repetition of words derived from the same root, used to create emphasis or wordplay. Example: “The team is working diligently to create a diligent workforce.” Here, “diligently” and “diligent” both share the same root.

Rhetorical Devices Examples

Examples of Rhetorical Devices in Speeches and Events

Rhetorical devices are essential tools for speakers to effectively communicate their message and engage their audience. By employing various linguistic techniques, speakers can elevate their speech, making it more impactful and memorable.

One of the most famous speeches in history is John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. Throughout his speech, JFK employed numerous rhetorical devices to inspire and persuade the audience. For instance, he used parallelism in the well-known phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” This structure highlights the contrast and emphasizes the speaker’s message.

In addition to parallelism, speakers often use other rhetorical devices such as:

  • Metaphor: Comparing two things by stating one is the other, e.g., “The world is a stage.”
  • Hyperbole: Intentional exaggeration for effect, e.g., “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.”
  • Alliteration: Repetition of initial consonant sounds, e.g., “She sells seashells by the seashore.”
  • Assonance: Repetition of vowel sounds within words, e.g., “How now, brown cow?”
  • Anaphora: Repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses, e.g., “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields.”

These techniques can not only emphasize important points but also make the language more memorable and engaging for the audience.

Moreover, the use of rhetorical devices can significantly impact the tone and mood of the speech. For example, a speaker may employ irony to point out a discrepancy or create humor in the listener by using an unexpected twist in their language.

Working with rhetorical devices and mastering their usage is crucial for a speaker to enhance their speech’s overall impact. By understanding the linguistic tools at their disposal, speakers can effectively connect with their audience, leave a lasting impression, and ultimately achieve their communication goals.

Rhetoric in Literature and Poetry

In literature and poetry, the use of rhetorical devices plays a crucial role in offering powerful and persuasive language. These literary elements are employed by writers to convince or persuade their audience through logos, pathos, and ethos.

Literary Devices in Poetry

Poetry often relies on linguistic tools like figurative language and well-known figures of speech, which are considered rhetorical devices. Some common examples include metaphors, similes, and personification. The use of these devices enables poets to create vivid images and evoke emotions, enhancing the reader’s experience.

Examples of Rhetorical Devices in Literature

Various rhetorical devices are used in different types of writing, including narrative and descriptive writing. Some of these include:

  • Anaphora: The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of consecutive clauses or sentences.
  • Hyperbole: Deliberate exaggeration for dramatic or humorous effect.
  • Irony: A contrast between the intended meaning and the actual meaning of a word or expression, often for sarcastic, humorous, or dramatic purposes.

When effectively employed, rhetorical devices can help authors produce memorable and influential literary works, reinforcing their messages.

Rhetoric in Music and Place

Rhetorical techniques can also be found in other forms of art, such as music and the description of places. In music, lyrics and composition can be crafted to create an emotional response or convey a specific message. For instance, a songwriter might utilize metaphors and similes in their lyrics, while the melody and rhythm of the music might provoke an emotional response.

Similarly, the description of a place can be enhanced by the use of rhetorical devices. Writers can use figurative language, such as metaphors or personification, to convey the atmosphere and unique qualities of a location more effectively.

In conclusion, rhetorical devices serve as powerful linguistic tools for conveying emotion, imagery, and persuasion across various forms of art and writing, such as literature, poetry, music, and descriptions of places.

Rhetorical Devices Examples in Pop Culture

Rhetorical devices are often used in pop culture to create memorable moments and engage audiences. These techniques can be found in various forms of media, including television shows, movies, commercials, and music.

One example of rhetorical devices in pop culture can be found in the Star Wars franchise, where the character Yoda uses distinctive speech patterns as a form of anastrophe. This is a device where words are deliberately arranged in an unusual order to create emphasis or an attention-grabbing effect. Yoda’s unique way of speaking has become synonymous with wisdom and has made the character a cultural icon.

In music, artists employ various rhetorical devices to enhance their lyrics and evoke emotional responses from their audience. For instance, Beyoncé’s album “Lemonade” incorporates a wide range of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, metaphor, and imagery. These techniques contribute to the album’s powerful narrative, which explores themes of love, betrayal, and empowerment.

Consider the following examples of rhetorical devices in popular songs:

Alliteration: The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or syllables.

  • Example: “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” (traditional nursery rhyme)

Anaphora: The repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses.

  • Example: “We will not flag or fail. We will go on to the end. We will fight in France…” (Winston Churchill)

Metaphor: A figure of speech comparing two unlike things without using “like” or “as.”

  • Example: “You’re a sky full of stars” (Coldplay)

Rhetorical devices in pop culture are also prevalent in social media. Memes and viral content often use humor and clever wordplay to deliver messages that resonate with a wide audience. By employing satire, irony, or even puns, creators can make a lasting impression and spread their ideas across various platforms.

In conclusion, rhetorical devices are a crucial element in pop culture, as they help create impactful messages that resonate with audiences. These techniques can be found across different forms of media, from the unique speech patterns of iconic characters like Yoda to the emotional lyrics of popular music, like Beyoncé’s “Lemonade.” By understanding and appreciating the use of rhetorical devices in pop culture, one can gain a deeper appreciation for the creativity and thought behind these memorable moments.

Rhetorical Devices: the Role of Emotion and Humor

The use of emotion and humor in rhetorical devices plays a significant role in creating a connection with the audience and enhancing persuasion. Emotions such as happiness, sadness, fear, and anger appeal to the human soul and tap into the shared feelings of humanity. This connection is crucial in building rapport, trust, and understanding between the speaker and the audience.

Humor, in particular, is a powerful rhetorical tool to establish a connection and identification with audience members. By employing humor, a speaker can make their argument more engaging, approachable, and relatable. This connection increases the likelihood that the audience will be receptive to the speaker’s point of view. Additionally, humor often serves to deflate counterarguments and make opposing points of view appear less credible or even absurd.

Emotions, as part of rhetorical appeals, can be traced back to Aristotle’s concepts of ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos refers to the credibility of the speaker, logos pertains to the logical arguments presented, and pathos focuses on the emotional appeal to the audience. A balanced combination of these appeals is crucial for effective persuasion.

Incorporating emotions and feelings in rhetorical devices can be achieved through various methods, such as:

  • Storytelling: Narrating personal experiences, anecdotes, or case studies that evoke emotions.
  • Metaphors and analogies: Utilizing figurative language to simplify complex ideas and spark emotional reactions.
  • Evocative words or phrases: Intentionally using language that elicits strong emotions.

It is essential to maintain a level of authenticity and moderation when using emotion and humor in rhetorical devices. Over-reliance on emotions or attempting to manipulate the audience’s feelings can lead to reduced credibility and trust. Furthermore, inappropriate use of humor may alienate or offend the audience, ultimately detracting from the speaker’s intended message.

Rhetorical Devices: Audience and Context

Understanding the audience and context is essential when using rhetorical devices in communication. The audience refers to the readers or listeners to whom the message is being conveyed. They may include primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences, depending on the intended reach of the communication. Each audience group has different needs, expectations, backgrounds, and interests, which must be taken into account when crafting a message.

The context, on the other hand, refers to the circumstances surrounding an act of reading or composition. It plays a significant role in shaping the communication, as it dictates the appropriate tone, style, and rhetoric for a particular situation.

Considering the audience and context is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Effectiveness of communication: Adapting the message to the needs and interests of the audience increases the likelihood that it will resonate with them and achieve the desired effect.
  2. Appropriate tone and style: Selecting the right rhetorical devices depends on the context and the audience’s preferences. For example, using a more formal tone in a business setting or casual language for a younger audience.
  3. Persuasion: Understanding the audience’s background and beliefs can guide the use of ethos, logos, and pathos, Aristotle’s established rhetorical techniques. These techniques can elicit emotional responses, credibility, and logical reasoning, influencing the audience’s opinions and decisions.

Writers and speakers can adopt various strategies to tailor their message to the audience and context, some of which include:

  • Demographic analysis: Collecting data about the audience’s age, gender, profession, education, culture, and socio-economic status helps in selecting content and rhetorical devices that are relatable and relevant.
  • Psychographic analysis: Assessing the audience’s values, attitudes, interests, and opinions enables a more targeted approach to persuasion and influence.
  • Situational analysis: Examining factors such as location, time, and the occasion of the communication helps determine the suitable tone and style.

In conclusion, considering the audience and context is paramount when employing rhetorical devices in communication. This approach ensures that the message effectively conveys the intended information, prompts desired reactions, and resonates with the target audience. Successful communication requires a thorough understanding of the audience and the context, shaping both content and delivery accordingly.

Rhetorical Devices Infographics

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Rhetorical Devices: 43 Important Rhetorical Devices with Useful ExamplesPin

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Rhetorical Devices: 43 Important Rhetorical Devices with Useful ExamplesPin

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Rhetorical Devices: 43 Important Rhetorical Devices with Useful ExamplesPin

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Rhetorical Devices: 43 Important Rhetorical Devices with Useful ExamplesPin

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Rhetorical Devices: 53 Important Rhetorical Devices with Useful ExamplesPin

FAQs on Rhetorical Devices

What are rhetorical devices?

Rhetorical devices are techniques used by writers and speakers to effectively communicate, persuade, or express ideas. They help in making language more interesting, engaging, and memorable.

What are some common rhetorical devices?

Some common rhetorical devices include:

  • Metaphors and similes: Comparing two different things to highlight their similarities
  • Alliteration: Repeating consonant sounds at the beginning of words in close succession
  • Hyperbole: Exaggerating for emphasis or emotional effect
  • Irony: Using words that convey the opposite meaning of their literal interpretation
  • Personification: Attributing human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or abstract ideas

Why are rhetorical devices important?

Rhetorical devices are essential for effective communication because they:

  • Capture the audience’s attention
  • Facilitate understanding
  • Enhance the power of persuasion
  • Add to the aesthetic appeal of a piece of writing or speech

How can I incorporate rhetorical devices into my writing or speech?

Incorporating rhetorical devices involves:

  1. Identifying the purpose of your writing or speech (inform, persuade, entertain)
  2. Choosing the appropriate rhetorical devices to serve that purpose
  3. Skillfully weaving the devices into your content, ensuring they do not detract from the main message or theme

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17 thoughts on “60+ Rhetorical Devices with Examples for Effective Persuasion”

  1. Under the definition for chiasmas, you stated that Jesus was half man and half God. He actually is 100% man and 100% God all at once.

    Reply
  2. Great article,Emma, and I found what I was looking for. I did run across a mistake, however. In the definition of chiasmus, you refer to Christians as believing Jesus is half man, half God. Here is a mystery that we might expect when dealing with the divine Creator: Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

    Reply
  3. Thanks my writing has been all over the place. Now I have words to play. About a week ago I used “take off knob” describing the movie “strange Brew” then today my door knob fell off. Is there a euphemism for that? Coincidental art mirroring life? I don’t want to start any rhetorical waxing moons poetic but eventfull candle drips oracle stars in a passion play you can shake a spear at some, throw tomatoes at some, but love awesome. My Melody is showing me a nice niece and handed me a candle to light as I was waxing this poem to see my answer complete. Poem’s melting.. rhetoricaly speaking of course.
    Off course king.
    Speak keeps oricaly tier.
    Pea keep or I calorie

    Reply
  4. I love words so what could be better than words about words. (Here you may insert a very positive epizeuxis, palilogia or tautology.)

    Reply
  5. I always have troubles understanding rhetorical devices and this was really helpful, I like how they are examples to show how they are used.

    Reply

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