10 Figures of Speech That You Should Never Miss.

A figure of speech is a deviation from ordinary use of words, in order to increase their effect. Basically, it is a figurative language that may consist of a single word or a phrase. It may be a simile, metaphor or personification to covey the meaning other than the literal meaning.

We have earlier discussed The Top 10 Figures of Speeches. In this section we are going to introduce another important figures of speech to upgrade your knowledge of analysing and composing.

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Allusion means Indirect or passing references often to other works of historical events. An allusion is a type of metaphor. The purpose of an allusion is that it allows the reader understand new information, characters, plot, setting or other element by connecting it to something already known.

Ex: “Sally had a smile that rivalled that of Mona Lisa.”

To get the complete sense of the sentence one should know about Monal Lisa. Since everyone is familiar with the painting, they can imagine what Sally’s smile looks like.




It is the reversion of traditional sentence structure or inversion of the natural order of words. For example: Mountain is tall can be used as Tall is the mountain.   It is used in order to provide special emphasis because the expected emphasis is not found at the beginning of the sentence.

Ex:          “Sometime too hot the eye of heave shines

And often is his gold complexion dimmed”

Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare




It is the giving non-human things human qualities. Mostly in children’s stories we see the taking trees, animals and objects. For example, in the film of beauty and the beast you see a candlestick casts as a major role. We should not contradict this with allegory which animals are used to represent something vast. The best example is animal farm where characters stand for certain famous figures highlighted in Russian Revolution. 



Aphorism means using proverb like statement of truth. It is a brief statement that expresses a general principle about life and usually only one sentence long.

Ex:          Honesty is the best policy – Benjamin Franklin

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.



Used to refer to things often deemed inappropriate to discuss. It is usually an expression intended by the speaker to be less offensive, disturbing or troubling to the listener than the word or the phrases it replaces.

Ex:          rest room for toilet

big boned for fat

differently abled for handicapped

passed away for died

collateral damage for killing of innocent bystanders

Or Sentences like:

The lost sheep may be recovered, the lost time cannot.

An archer cannot hit the bullseye if he doesn’t know where the target is.




It is a hint at a future event; so that they make sense once they happen. It usually expresses through the comments made by a narrator (experiences or feeling of characters.), events in the story or sometime the changes in the environment.

Ex: In the movie Harry potter, Hermione tells the story of Three Deathly Hallows, where the one who holds the most powerful wand dies which is the foreshadowing the death of professor Dumbledore.



Presents contrasts between what is perceived and what is real. That means totals opposite of something spoken, seen or act. Irony is seen in three different ways.


Dramatic irony 

When the audience knows something that the character in the drama does not know. This creates suspense and keeps the audience engaged in.  

Ex: King Oedipus, who has unknowingly killed his father, says that he will banish his father’s killer when he finds him.


Situational irony

It is the opposite of what we expect will happen.

Ex:          A fire station catching on fire.

Bill Gates winning a computer in a contest.

Fiona the princess looks at Shrek the ogre and says, “Wow, aren’t you the most handsome man I’ve ever seen?”


Verbal irony

Saying one thing, but meaning is something else. That is most of the time used to indirectly criticize something or to add humour to a situation.  

Ex:          Nice clean water you’ve got here. When standing on the edge of a polluted river.

In the Film Mean Girls, One of the girls says to another girl: “ I love your skirt, where did you get it?”  after she left, she says: That’s the ugliest skirt I’ve ever seen.



Juxtaposition places two contrasting things together. It is a literary device wherein the author places a person, concept, place, idea or theme to another with the purpose of highlighting the contrast between the two.

Ex:          Prince and the Pauper

Cinderella and her step sisters

a baby with a machine gun


In paradise lost, Milton has used juxtaposition to draw a parallel between the two protagonists, Satan and God, who he discusses by placing their traits in comparison with one another to highlight their differences. 



Makes a statement about society through comedy or exaggeration. Further, it is the use of humour, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

ex: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. - George Orwell, Animal Farm



A symbol means something that represents something or a living or non-living object representing something else. As an example apple is a symbol of passion with regard to Adam and Eva’s story, when it comes to Snow White, apple may be the ill- intention and for William Tel, it can be the opportunity. Therefore, symbol can be universal or context based which is open for interpretation.

ex:          Rose - symbol of love

Crown – symbol of power

Figures of speech are the stylistic devices in writing. You need the knowledge of them to produce a nice piece of writing as well as in exams, you need that to unwrap the meaning of the given texts, speech or unseen poetry.

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