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Rhetorical Devices


Great writers and speakers use rhetorical devices to persuade their audience. These devices make arguments more compelling and create an emotional response in the listener or reader. You too can use them as tools to create emphasis and sway your audience. In this article, I explain eleven rhetorical devices and show how orators have used them to add a memorable rhythm to their talks and elicit the desired response


Epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or a phrase in immediate succession within the same sentence.

 Education, education, education.
Never, never, never.
Yes, yes, yes.


Anaphora is a rhetorical device in which a word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.


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…” Winston Churchil

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice ,swelting with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”” Martin Luther King Jr. 


Epistrophe is a rhetorical device in which a word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive clauses or sentences. 

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I    thought as a child
Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.



Symploce is a combination of anaphora and epistrophe, but different words are repeated at the start and end.



For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the messenger was lost;for want of a messenger, the message was lost;for want of a message, the battle was lost;and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
when there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it.” William Jefferson Clinton

Epanalepsis repeats the same word(s) at the beginning and end. 
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! 
Nothing will come of nothing.

Epizeuxis is the repetition of a word or a phrase in immediate succession within the same sentence.
 “The car is not pretty, but it runs great” would be one example, because you’re referring to the vehicle’s good performance as a reason to excuse its unattractive appearance.
“She is slow in her work, but she is sincere”


Antimetabole repeats words or phrases in reverse order. 
 “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” “Mankind must put an end to war, or else war will put an end to  mankind.” 
All for one and one for all.
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going!”

Chiasmus is the reversal of grammatical structures without repetition of the same words or phrases. It is a two-part sentence or phrase, where the second part is a mirror image of the first such that concepts and parts of speech are mirrored. (We’ve seen that if the second part mirrors the exact words used in the first part, we call it antimetabole.) 
“It’s hard to make time, but to waste it is easy” is a chiasmus
Here, if A = adjectives (hard/easy) and I = infinitive phrases (to make time/to waste it), then the order is AI/IA:
“It’s hard (A) to make time (I), but to waste it (I) is easy (A).
“By day the frolic, and the dance by night. ”The first half of the sentence, “by day the frolic”, starts with a time of day followed by an event. The second half of the sentence, “and the dance by night”, begins with an event and is followed by a time of day.

Antithesis is a device by which two contrasting ideas are juxtaposed in parallel form.It is often used to create a sense of opposition or contrast, and to emphasize the difference between two ideas.
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
“Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.”

Rhetorical Question
A rhetorical question is a question not meant to be answered. It is posed to assert or deny something.
“Do we really want to continue down this path?”
“What else can go wrong?”

An epithet is a descriptive word or phrase that is used to characterize a person, place, or thing. It is often used to highlight a particular quality or characteristic of the subject being described such as calling King Richard I “Richard the Lionheart.” The word lionheart highlights that he was brave.
 “King of pop” refers to Michael Jackson
.“God of cricket” refers to Sachin Tendulkar

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