Figure of Speech

Figurative language:

In general "figure" means "drawing" or "image" or "picture". Figurative language creates figures (pictures) in the mind of the reader or listener. These pictures help to understand the meaning faster and more vividly than the words alone.


We use figures of speech in poem (figurative language) to add colour, effect and interest, and to awaken the imagination. Figurative language is everywhere, from classical works like Shakespeare or the Bible, to everyday speech, music and television commercials. It makes the reader or listener use their imagination and understand much more than the plain words.


Figurative language is the opposite of literal language. Literal language means exactly what it says. Figurative language means something different to (and usually more than) what it says on the surface:

  • He is brave. (literal)
  • He is brave like a Lion. (figurative)

In the above example "like a Lion" is a figure of speech (in this case, a simile). It is important to recognize the difference between literal and figurative language. There are many figures of speech that are commonly used and which you can learn by heart. At other times, writers and speakers may invent their own figures of speech. If you do not recognize them as figures of speech and think that they are literal, you will find it difficult to understand the language.


List of Figures of Speech


  1. Antithesis
  2. Oxymoron
  3. Simile
  4. Metaphor
  5. Alliteration
  6. Repetition
  7. Pun
  8. Tautology
  9. Litotes
  10. Irony
  11. Interrogation
  12. Exclamation
  13. Apostrophe
  14. Personification
  15. Transferred Epithet
  16. Hyperbole
  17. Euphemism
  18. Epigram
  19. Paradox
  20. Synecdoche
  21. Metonymy
  22. Inversion
  23. Onomatopoeia
  24. Adjunction
  25. Cataphora
  26.  Climax
  27.  Anti-climax
  28. Chiasmus
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