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Home » Shakespeare's Works » Elements » Figures of Speech » Figures of Speech by Name » Periphrasis


Periphrasis is the use of 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.

Periphrasis is an example of:
Augmentation, Substitution

The night has been unruly

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The night has been unruly. Where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i’ th’ air, strange screams of death,
And prophesying, with accents terrible,
Of dire combustion and confused events
New hatched to th’ woeful time. The obscure bird
Clamored the livelong night. Some say the Earth
Was feverous and did shake.
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