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Figures of Speech

Grade 10
Sep 6, 2022

A figure of speech is a poetic device (a word or a phrase) that is used to give a figurative meaning than the actual literal meaning. A figure of speech gives a clearer picture as well as a visual image to the readers. They act like a beauty agent which adds beauty and charm to the everyday language. 

There are a number of figures of speech used in the English language. Among them are smile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, alliteration. 

Types of figure of speech  

  1. Hyperbole:- Here, we exaggerate or overstate a statement to get more clarity and emphasis on something. 

E.g., I could eat a whole cow. 

Here the expression is used to show the extreme hunger of the person. 

Other examples are; I have told you a million times not to sleep! He’s as big as an elephant!


Unlike simile and metaphor, hyperboles are not comparisons. They are overstatements always used to show contrasts and to catch readers’ attention. 

E.g., I had a ton of homework  

  1. Understatement:- It is the direct opposite of hyperbole. Here we downplay a serious situation. 

E.g., It’s just a scratch. It stings a bit. It rained a bit more than usual

Here, we give less importance to the subject than it actually requires. We use this to create irony and to add humor to the situation.  

E.g., Deserts are sometimes hot, dry and sandy.  

  1. Oxymoron:- Here, two contradictory words are used together to give a new meaning. 

E.g., Cruel-kindness 

At first glance, oxymorons may seem irrational, but they make sense with the context. 

E.g., Original copy , Free market, Jumbo shrimp

  1. Euphemism:- Here, offensive and harsh terms are replaced by mild and soft words. 

E.g., Using ‘passed away’ instead of died. 

It is a polite way of saying something that is unpleasant or harsh. It always helps to minimize the embarrassment of the speaker when dealing with a difficult situation. 

E.g., Instead of I got fired, we can use my position was eliminated

The car isn’t used; it’s “certified pre-owned.” 

She’s not sick; she’s “under the weather.” 

  1. Synecdoche:- Here, a part of something is used to refer to its whole or the whole is used to refer to a part.  

E.g., “Wheels” represents car. 

Police” refers to the individual officers too.  

The word “bread” can be used to represent food. 

The word “boots” refers to soldiers. 

  1. Metonymy:- Here, a word is replaced by some other word, which has a meaning very close to the original word’s meaning.  

E.g., I remain loyal to the crown

Here crown refers to the king. 

Tell me about your first date. I’m all ears! Here ears mean giving attention or listening. 

Would you mind giving me a hand carrying this box up the stairs? The word hand is used instead of help.

  1. Alliteration:– figure of speech with the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. 

E.g., Sheep should shover in a shed. 

         She sells sea shells on the sea shore. 

         Busy buzzing, the bee behaved beautifully. 

  1. Anaphora:- Technique of repeating the same word at the beginning of successive phrases or verses. 

E.g., “I came, I saw, I conquered.”  

         “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right.” 

9. Assonance:- It is the repetition of sounds of nearby words, arising particularly from the rhyming of two or more stressed vowels, but not consonants. 

E.g., Clap your hands, and stamp your feet 

       The sun rose high in the bright sky 

10. Irony:- The figure of speech used to express a strong emotion or raise a point by using words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. 

E.g., A campaign on social media complaining the social media misuse. 

The couple named their tiny Chihuahua “Brutus”. 

11. Metaphor:- a word or phrase is applied to an object/action to which it is not literally applicable.  

E.g., She’s a night owl

        Chaos is a friend of mine

        He is the light of my life

12. Personification:- the representation of an abstract quality using a human form. 

E.g., The sun smiled down on us. 

         The fog crept in. 

          The leaves waved in the wind. 

13. Simile: – It is a phrase that uses a comparison for describing.  

E.g., He eats like a pig

He was as quiet as a mouse

She smelled like a rose. 


Frequently asked questions 

1. What is a Hyperbolic figure of speech? 

Ans: In hyperbole, we exaggerate or overstate a statement to get more clarity and emphasis on something. 

2. Give an example for an Understatement? 

Ans: It stings a bit. Here the pain might be more but, it’s given less importance. 

3. What is a Metaphor? 

Ans: A metaphor is a word or phrase applied to an object/action to which it is not literally applicable. 

4. What type of figure of speech is ‘peace force’? 

Ans: ‘peace force’ is an oxymoron with two contradictory terms used together. 


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