10 Rhetorical Figures – Listverse

10 Rhetorical Figures

by Listverse Writersfact checked by Alex Hanton

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion through written, oral, or visual means. The idea of rhetoric has been around since the classical days. One of the greatest works on this subject which still exists from the classical period is The Orators Education, by Quintilian (if you are feeling particularly generous, I give you permission to buy me a copy from my amazon wishlist – it is on page 1 and there are 5 books.) Some of the greatest speakers and speeches from history were written by people with a great knowledge of rhetoric – for example John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill. Some of the famous tropes you have probably heard of are Irony, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and assonance. I like to think of it like this: grammar is the science of good writing; rehetoric the art. That was zeugma (item 6) by the way. This is a list of ten rhetorical tropes (figures of speech) to get you started on the road to mastery of the art.


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Eustasy YOO-stə-seePart of speech: nounOrigin: Greek, 1940s
1A change of sea level throughout the world, caused typically by movements of parts of the Earth’s crust or melting of glaciers.
Examples of Eustasy in a sentence “Today, we’re learning about eustasy in our marine science class.” “Oceanographers like Jacques Cousteau likely researched eustasy during their careers.”

Enter the Dragon Man

via 1440 Daily Digest

A fossilized skull discovered in rural China almost 90 years ago likely represents a new species of human ancestor, according to scientists. The artifact has been labeled as part of a new species, Homo longi, which suggests a group of ancestors more closely related to modern humans than Neanderthals. Designated as “Dragon Man,” the skull was named after a river by which it was found.

According to reports, a worker discovered the skull while building a bridge in the eastern province of Harbin, but hid it in a well to evade Japanese authorities (the discovery happened in between two major wars between the countries). The fossil was dated to roughly 146,000 years ago.

Scientists say the skull has a brain fluid volume similar to modern humans, while retaining features such as a prominent brow ridge and large eye sockets reminiscent of older species. Explore humans’ evolutionary history here

Five Useful Phrases

  1. Poke Fun AtMeaning: Making fun of something or someone; ridicule.
  2. Goody Two-ShoesMeaning: A smugly virtuous person.
  3. Flea MarketMeaning: A type of bazaar where inexpensive goods are sold or bartered.
  4. A Guinea PigMeaning: Someone who is used in an experiment.
  5. Right Off the BatMeaning: Immediately, done in a hurry; without delay.


Passim PASS-ihmPart of speech: adverbOrigin: Latin, 17th century
1(Of allusions or references in a published work) to be found at various places throughout the text.
Examples of Passim in a sentence “Her grandfather’s observations about the book were found passim, especially scribbled in the margins. ” “The influence of other black artists was found passim her own work.”