Parts of Speech Part V


Hyperbole means exaggeration. In a hyperbole things are described as being bigger or smaller than they really are.

We have been waiting for ages.
She wept oceans of tears.
All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. (Shakespeare)
When she smiled all the world was gay.
I thought ten thousand swords must have leapt from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.

Figures based on indirect expression


By this figure of speech we express something unpleasant or blunt in a gentle and mild way. This device is employed to avoid giving offence. For example, it is common to say ‘passed away’ instead of ‘died’.

Examples are given below:

My grandfather passed away last week. (=My grandfather died last week.)
My sister has just had a visit from the stork. (= My sister has just had a baby.)
He is becoming thin on top. (=He is becoming bald.)
Food was collected for the disadvantaged in the city. (=Food was collected for the poor in the city.)
She is becoming overweight. (= She is becoming fat.)


Irony involves saying one thing when we mean just the opposite. A classic example is given below. Here Anthony is stirring up the Romans against Brutus and Cassius at the funeral of Caesar.

Here under leave of Brutus and the rest
(For Brutus is a honourable man:
So are they all, all honourable men)
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is a honourable man.

Figures based on sound


This figure of speech involves the use of a word that is formed from the sound it is intended to represent. Examples are thud, boom, puff-puff and bow-vow. Note that this figure is more common in poetry than in prose.

Examples are:

The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves
It cracked and growled and roared and howled like noises in a sound.


Alliteration involves the repetition of one or more similar sounds or letters at the beginning of two or more words. Examples are given below:

How high his highness holds his haughty head.
Till the vessel shook with a shivering shock
A strong man struggling with the storms of fate (Addison)