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Omission

These figures of speech may omit letters, syllables, words, or ideas. They may even just include a pause for silence.

Anapodoton

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Deliberate sentence fragment. “No, not an oath! If not the face of men, / The sufferance of our souls, the time’s abuse— / If these be motives weak, break off betimes, / And every man hence to his idle bed;” Julius Caesar, 2.1.124

Aphaearesis

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Deletion a syllable or letter from the beginning of a word to create a new word. “O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile / In loathsome beds, and leav’st the kingly couch / A watch-case or a common ‘larum-bell?” Henry IV Pt2, 3.1.3. Also see Syncope, the removal of a syllable or letter from the middle of a word, and Apocope, the deletion of a syllable or letter from the end of a word.

Aphesis

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Loss of an unstressed initial vowel. “And so far blameless proves my enterprise / That I have ’nointed an Athenian’s eyes.” Midsummer Night’s Dream, 3.2.368See Apocope, in which the last syllable is dropped; and Syncope, in which the middle syllable is dropped.

Apocope

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Deletion of a syllable or letter from the end of a word. “With Clifford and the haught Northumberland…” Henry VI Pt3, 2.1.153. See Aphaearesis, the deletion of an unstressed initial vowel, and Syncope, the deletion of a middle consonant or syllable.

Aporia

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An expression of insincere doubt, in which the writer or speaker pretends not to know a key piece of information or not to understand a key connection. “They that have done this deed are honorable. / What private griefs they have, alas, I know not, / That made them do it.” Julius Caesar, 3.2.82.

Aposiopesis

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Sudden breaking off of an utterance before it is completed, usually in moments of emotion. “O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, / And men have lost their reason. Bear with me, / My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, / And I must pause till it come back to me…” Julius Caesar, 3.2.82.

Apostrophe

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Breaking off discourse to address an absent person, or to an inanimate object or abstraction, as if personified (not to be confused with the punctuation mark). “Age, thou art sham’d! / Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods! Julius Caesar. 1.2.142.

Asyndeton

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Omission of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words. “Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils, Shrunk to this little measure?” Julius Caesar, 3.1.164. See Polysyndeton, which repeats the same conjunction between words or phrases in a series.

Caesura

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A break or pause in the rhythm of a line. The pause adds a dramatic effect. The pauses can be initial, medial or terminal, and may follow masculine or feminine stresses. “To be, || or not to be, || that is the question. ||Hamlet. 3.1.64

Ellipsis

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Omission of one or more words, which are assumed by the listener or reader. Omitting a word implied by the previous clause. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces.” Merchant of Venice, 1.2.1

Enthymeme

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An argument in which a premise is omitted but implied, or which bases a conclusion on the truth of its contrary. “Marked you his words? He would not take the crown; / Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious.” Julius Caesar, 3.2.82

Metaplasmus

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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).

Paralepsis

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Emphasizing a point by seeming to pass over it.

Rhetorical Question

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A question whose answer is so obvious that an answer is not expected. “For who so firm that cannot be seduc’d?” Julius Caesar, 1.2.320. Also see Rogatio.

Syncope

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Deleting a syllable or letter from the middle of a word. “Let’s make us med’cines of our great revenge.” Macbeth, 4.3.252. See Aphaearsis, the deletion of an unstressed initial vowel at the end of a word. and Apocope, the deletion of a syllable or letter from the end of a word.