Figures of Speech Part – 2


Tautology is a figure of speech where the same ideas are repeated using different words.

Another term for tautology is redundancy. 

It helps in reinforcing the idea in the mind of the reader.

Tautology is considered faulty in modern writing.


  • Will you please repeat the last sentence again.

(Repeating is an action that happens again. Hence, the term ‗again‘ is unnecessary when the word ‗repeat‘ is used.) 

  • I was astonished, amazed and surprised.

(The words ‗astonished‘, ‗amazed‘, and surprised‘ are synonyms.)

Popular Examples:

Polonious: What do you read, my lord?

Hamlet: Words, words, words.‖

Shakespeare, Hamlet

The stars, O astral bodies!‖

Vidyanand jha , Examtube

With malice toward none, with charity for all.‖

Abraham Lincoln


Inversion is a figure of speech where the order of the words in the sentence is jumbled for poetic effect.

Through inversion, the writer uses poetic liberty to make the sentence sound more pleasing.

Sometimes, the writer may employ inversion to make the line rhyme with the previous one. The sun shines and the birds tweet,

Sing the womenfolk their songs sweet.


  • Powerful you have become; the dark side I sense in you.

(The order of the sentence has been changed. The correct order is ‗You have become powerful; I sense the dark side in you‘.)

  • Through vales and dales, blows gently the wind.

(The correct order of the sentence is ‗Through vales and dales, the wind blows gently‘.)

Popular Examples:

“There was a ship,” quoth he.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

This is the forest primaeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks‖

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline 

“How many pictures of one Nymph we view, All how unlike each other, all how true!” 

Alexander Pope, Epistle to a Lady


Antithesis is a figure of speech where opposite ideas are brought together in a sentence for poetic effect.


  • He toiled all day and he slept all night.

(Contrasting words ‗day‘ and ‗night‘ are brought together.)

  • Madhu is disciplined in her professional life but disorganised in her personal life.

(Contrasting words ‗disciplined‘ and ‗disorganised‘ are brought together.)

Popular Examples:

Love is an ideal thing; marriage is a real thing.‖


That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.‖ 

Neil Armstrong

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.‖

Shakespeare, Hamlet

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.‖

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


Verbal irony is a figure of speech where the speaker says the exact opposite of what he or she intends.

Some writers employ verbal irony to indirectly criticize or to taunt.

Dramatic irony is a figure of speech where the spectator or the reader knows more about the outcome of the story than the character in a film, novel, or play. 

Situational irony is where there is deviance from what is usually expected from the situation.


  • Suresh is the busiest man I know. Between gambling and sleeping, he barely finds time for work.

(By saying he barely finds time to work, the writer intends to criticize Suresh who is whiling away his time sleeping and gambling.)

  • The most discreet person in the office is Shalini who cannot help discussing sordid details of her private life with anyone who comes her way. 

(By calling her ‗The most discreet person‘, the speaker goes on to narrate Shalini‘s indiscretion.)

Popular Examples:

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.‖

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

In Sophocles‘ ‗Oedipus Rex‘, the King ventures out to find the murderer of King Laius without realizing he himself is the murderer. 


Oxymoron is a figure of speech where two contrasting words are conjoined.

This conjoining of contrasting words may seem ridiculous if literally interpreted, but it may be meaningful if it is figuratively understood.  


  • Seriously joking

(The words ‗joking‘ and ‗serious‘ are contrasting, but they are brought together to mean that someone was actually joking. )

  • Bittersweet

(The word is made of contrasting adjectives ‗bitter‘ and ‗sweet‘. Both are conjoined to refer to a taste that is both bitter and sweet. )

Popular Examples:

O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!

Misshapen chaos of wellseeming forms!

Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

I am a deeply superficial person.‖ 

Andy Warhol

Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

And lined the train with faces grimly gay

Wilfred Owen, The Send-Off

And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.” 

Alfred Tennyson

conventionally unconventional, suggesting a ―tortuous* spontaneity

Henry James, The Lesson of the Master

*tortuous – full of twists and turns


The paradox is a statement or a general truth that may sound absurd or illogical, but on deeper analysis, it may make complete sense. 

The paradox is similar to the oxymoron because both yoke together contrasting ideas. 

But the former stands for a rule or a truth that is rooted in reality. 


(a) When it comes to speaking, less is more.

(The statement ‗less is more‘ sounds absurd. If one were to analyze it, it means brevity of speech can accomplish more than verbosity.)

(b) Child is the father of the man.

(The statement sounds illogical if one were to interpret it literally. Figuratively, it means that childhood is an important stage where man imbibes qualities that will become synonymous with his personality in adulthood.)

Popular Examples:

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”

George Orwell, Animal Farm

I can resist anything but temptation.‖

Oscar Wilde

To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.‖

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

The swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“War is peace.”

“Freedom is slavery.”

“Ignorance is strength.”

George Orwell,1984


Repetition is a figure of speech where a word or a phrase within a sentence is repeated.

It is done for poetic effect or for emphasis.

It is a very commonly used figure of speech.


(a) I searched and searched and searched.

(The act of searching is highlighted and emphasized.)

(b) He came, He saw, He conquered. 

(The pronoun ‗He‘ is repeated thrice for emphasis.)

Popular Examples:

I‘m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody too?‖

Emily Dickinson, I’m Nobody! Who are You?

If you think you can win, you can win.”

William Hazlitt

Because I do not hope to turn again

Because I do not hope

Because I do not hope to turn…‖

T. S. Elliot, Ash-Wednesday

“To the swinging and the ringing

of the bells, bells, bells-

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells

Bells, bells, bells-“

Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells

And my father sold me, while yet my tongue

Could scarcely cry “‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”

William Blake, The Chimney Sweeper


Alliteration is the repetition of the sound of words that are in a sequence of which is close to each other.

It is the repetition of the sound of the consonants in the words.

It makes the lines sound lyrical and rhythmic. 

Alliteration also renders a pleasing flow to the verses. 


(a) Susie suddenly sounds serious on the phone.

(The consonant sound ‗s‘ is repeated for a pleasing effect.)

(b) Pitter patter of petite feet

(The consonant sound ‗p‘ is repeated for a pleasing effect.)

Popular Examples:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought‖

Shakespeare, Sonnet 30

Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary‖

Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven

When loosed and missioned, making wings of winds‖

P. B. Shelly, The Witch of Atlas

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea.‖

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 

And while the world laughed outside. 

Cloony the Clown sat down and cried.‖

Shel Silverstein, Clooney the Clown