Shakespeare quotes, notes, timelines & more

Home » Reading Will » Figures of Speech » Figures of Speech by Type » Addition

Addition

Rhetorical figures of Addition use either more words than necessary or the words invoke more meanings than expected.

Adynaton

View

An extreme form of Hyperbole in which the exaggeration could not possibly happen in reality. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?” Macbeth, 2.2.78

Ambage

View

Excessive words are used in an ambiguous or indirect manner. “But be contented when that fell arrest / Without all bail shall carry me away, / My life hath in this line some interest, / Which for memorial still with thee shall stay.” Sonnet 74. Ambage is similar to Circumlocution, in that both use excessive words and are indirect — a Circumlocution circles around the meaning and an Ambage creates an ambiguity.  Also see Periphrasis.

Ambiguity

View

Expression that has more than one meaning. Puns usually draw on the ambiguity of the speaker’s intent. “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.” Romeo and Juliet, 3.1.93

Amplification

View

An elaborate decoration an argument to suggest copiousness or intensify emotional impact. “Ay, my good lord—“my lord,” I should say rather. / ’Tis sin to flatter; “good” was little better: / “Good Gloucester” and “good devil” were alike, / And both preposterous: therefore, not “good lord.” Henry VI Pt3, 5.6.1.

Apposition

View

Interrupting a sentence with a word or phrase to add descriptive content. “The winds did sing it to me, and the thunder, / That deep and dreadful organ pipe, pronounced / The name of Prosper.” The Tempest 3.3.114. Similar to a Preposition but Appositions are less interruptive, more like clauses providing clarifying or additional information.

Asteismus

View

Witty joke where a word or phrase is turned on the user. “Katherine: What is your crest? A coxcomb? Petruchio: A combless cock, so Kate will be my hen. Katherine: No cock of mine. You crow too like a craven.” Taming of the Shrew. 2.1.209.

Circumlocution

View

Using more words than necessary, or evasive words, in order to circle around a meaning and to avoid being direct. “Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain / If with too credent ear you list his songs / Or lose your heart or your chaste treasure open / To his unmastered importunity. / Fear it, Ophelia; fear it, my dear sister.” Hamlet. 1.3.33. See also Ambage, Amplification, Euphemism, and Periphrasis.

Conceit

View

An elaborate and extended figure of speech, involving metaphors, similes, imagery, etc. “Thou counterfeits a bark, a sea, a wind. / For still thy eyes, which I may call the sea, / Do ebb and flow with tears; the bark thy body is, / Sailing in this salt flood; the winds thy sighs, / Who, raging with thy tears and they with them, / Without a sudden calm, will overset / Thy tempest-tossèd body.” Romeo and Juliet, 3.5.117

Epenthesis

View

Adding an extra syllable or letters in the middle of a word (also called Infixation). “I have but with a cursitory eye / O’erglanced the articles.” Henry V, 5.2.69

Epithet

View

Noun-adjective combo as a means for amplification or further description, epithets can be semantically redundant or unusual. They sometimes become nicknames. “A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life,” Romeo and Juliet, 1.P.1. Also see Transferred Epithet.

Euphemism

View

Substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit.

Exordium

View

Introduction to a speech to catch attention of the listeners. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” Julius Caesar, 3.2.82

Hendiadys

View

The expression of a single idea by two nouns connected with “and” rather than a noun modified by an adjective. “And thy commandment all alone shall live / Within the book and volume of my brain.” Hamlet, 1.5.99.

Hyperbole

View

Exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect. “He is the bluntest wooer in Christendom.” Henry VI Pt 3, 3.2.36.

Metaplasmus

View

Metaplasmus (or metaplasm) is a generic term for a number of figures of speech that change the spelling of words by either adding or deleting letters or syllables. Shakespeare often used these figures to accommodate the meter of his lines. Sometimes he creates dialect. See Prosthesis (adding to beginning), Epenthesis (adding to middle), Proparalepsis (adding to end), Aphaearesis (deleting from beginning), Syncope (deleting from middle), Apocope (deleting from end).

Neologism

View

A neologism is a deliberately created new word. “…heaven and earth together demonstrated / Unto our climatures and countrymen.”  Antony and Cleopatra, 1.1.124. Here Shakespeare created a portmanteau in which he merged “climate” with “temperature.” Sometimes Shakespeare used an existing word but gave it a new meaning, e.g. “bedroom” meaning the room in a bed, not the room with a bed in it. Shakespeare is credited with creating many neologisms, some obsolete and some still in use. However, scholarly research continues to reveal that many words previously attributed to him were already in use.  See also Acyrologia and Malapropism, which are unintentionally misused words, and Metaplasmus, which is a generic term for different types of misspelled words.

Periphrasis

View

The use of a somewhat elaborate description for what is normally a common word, phrase or proper name — or of a proper name, e.g., “Venus” for a description, i.e, “beautiful and seductive.” “Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope / The Lord’s anointed temple and stole thence / The life o’ th’ building.” Macbeth, 2.3.73. A type of Circumlocution — excessive words are used in a roundabout manner; also see Ambage — excessive words used to create ambiguity or misdirection.