Figures of Speech in Latin (AND ENGLISH)

alliteration: repetition of the same sound at the beginning of successive words.
o Let us go forth to lead the land we love. –John F. Kennedy
o Veni, vidi, vici. –Caesar

anaphora: repetition of the same word at the beginning of two or more successive phrases, clauses, or lines.
o We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we
shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and
growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we
shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the
fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.
o Nihil agis, nihil moliris, nihil cogitas, quod non ego non modo audiam, sed etiam
videam planeque sentiam. –Cicero

asyndeton: omission of connecting words (conjunctions) such as et or –que.
o We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support any friend,
oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. –John F. Kennedy
o But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow
this ground. –Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

chiasmus: contrastive, crisscross word order, where words appear in the pattern         A-B-B-A.
o Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always.
o Pro vita hominis nisi hominis vita reddatur… –Caesar

diminutive: a form that indicates a small amount or small size. Diminutives can convey a variety of emotions, such as affection or contempt.
o What a cute little doggy!
o …ut Veraniolum meum et Fabullum.

ellipsis: omission of a word or words that must be supplied to complete the sense; the
omitted word is most often a form of esse.
o She enjoys sailing, he swimming.
o Tum ex omni parte lapidibus coniectis, deturbati [sunt] turrisque succensa est.

enjambment: postponement of a word that completes the thought of a line of verse onto the next line.
o I think that I shall never see / A poem as lovely as a tree. –Joyce Kilmer
o Hauriat hunc oculis ignem et crudelis ab alto / Dardanus et nostrae secum ferat omina
mortis. –Vergil

hyperbaton: separation of words which belong together, often to emphasize the first of the separated words or to create a certain image.
o Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. –Edgar Allan
Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart”
o Speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem… –Vergil

hyperbole: exaggeration to create interest or emphasis.
o My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should got to praise
Thine eyes and on thine forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest. –Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”
o Da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
Dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
Deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum. –Catullus

litotes: expressing an idea by negating its opposite.
o A few unannounced quizzes are not inconceivable.
o videbantur non ignoravisse (seemed not to have been unaware) –Asconius

metaphor: a word used to suggest a comparison.
o Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. –Shakespeare, Macbeth
o Nunc te cognovi: quare etsi impensius uror, / multo mi tamen es vilior et levior.

metonymy: use of one noun for another that it suggests.
o The pen is mightier than the sword.
o Hoc inclusi lingo occultantur Achivi (in this wood [the Trojan horse] Greeks are
enclosed and lie hidden) –Vergil, Aeneid

onomatopoeia: the sound of a word that imitates the actual sound that one hears.
o buzz, hiss, hum
o At tuba terribili sonitu taratantara dixit. –Ennius
poetic plural: use of a word in the plural which might seem more logical in the singular.
o Rapidi vicinia solis / mollit odoratas, pennarum vincula, ceras.                                      –Ovid, Metamorphoses

preterition: a figure in which the speaker says that he is not going to talk about a certain topic, thereby bringing it to the attention of the audience.
o That part of our history detailing the military achievements which gave us our several
possessions … is a theme too familiar to my listeners for me to dilate on, and I shall
therefore pass it by. –Thucydides, “Funeral Oration”
o Cur dicam de caritate familiae pietate…

rhetorical question: a question asked for effect, to make a point with the audience rather than to obtain real information.
o Hath not a Jew eyes? / Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? / If you prick us, do we not bleed, if you tickle us, do we not laugh? / If you poison us, do we not die? –Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice
o Quid bella Tyro surgentia dicam germanique minas? –Vergil, Aeneid

simile: a comparison between two things expressed by using the words like or as, in Latin ut, sicut, velut, tamquam, or qualis.
o My love is as a fever, longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease.
–Shakespeare, Sonnet 147
o Ac veluti magno in populo cum saepe coorta est seditio. –Vergil, Aeneid

synchysis: interlocked word order, where words appear in the order A-B-A-B.
o aurea purpuream subnectit fibula vestem (golden purple bound clasp cloak) –Vergil,

synecdoche: use of a part of something to stand for the whole object.
o Give us this day our daily bread.
o Tum prora avertit (then the prow [ship] turned around) –Vergil, Aeneid

transferred epithet: an adjective that agrees grammatically with one noun but more
logically would describe another noun in the sentence.
o “The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able
to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.”
–Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
o Exegi monumentum aere perennius / regalique situ pyramidum altius. –Horace

tricolon: a series of three grammatically parallel phrases or clauses; often the third is the longest or most important, in which case it is referred to as a tricolon crescens.
o I came, I saw, I conquered.
o Veni, vidi, vici.