34 Imagery or Figures Of Speech every student must know
Every Literary work has a form of imagery or figurative language which makes it appealing to the senses. Language that uses figures of speech is known collectively as figurative language.
These figurative languages are used in novels, poems, essays, and plays. The opposite of figurative language is literal language. Literal language is the type of straightforward writing you’ll find on road signs, in office memos, and in research papers.
A Figure Of Speech is a word or phrase used in a non-literal sense for rhetorical or vivid effect.
1) ALLUSION: This is an expression containing indirect reference to some well-known event, person or material. Writers use it to throw more light on what he/she want to say. An allusion could be biblical (from Bible), mythical (about mythological creatures, people or happenings), historical (concerning historical figures or event), literary (concerning literary characters and events), or personal (concerning events relating to the author).
Example; Oh Ocean! The king of all the creations
The reliable creation among the creations
You were king right from genesis
Oh mighty Ocean!
Mighty are your tides
Which the creator had belief in
In your midst the creator
Made a way for his firstborn
At the spread of your wings
You destroyed the creator’s enemies
The above is a Biblical Allusion from the poem OCEAN written by Joyceline Natally Cudjoe.
Below is a historical allusion from the poem SILENT NIGHT also by Joyceline Natally Cudjoe.
Why did you stand next to the king?
Who at day swept the dwellers,
Who wickedly enslaved our soil seeds
The potent eyes that brightened Africans
And won endless battle
Oh silent night!
Why did you arrange this eternal sleep
For this great hero
Who won independence for this prestigious nation
2) APOSTROPHE: It is a special form of personification in which someone absent or dead or nonhuman is addressed as if it was alive and present and was able to reply. Example; Oh you happy cloud, will you frown your generous face on me?
Alas, alas, alas! You great city.
3) ASSONANCE: It is similarity of vowel sound repeated in words close together in a line but start with different consonant sounds.
Example; Gentle hand, who robs my soft body with a stony palm
My heart frightens as the skies whistles with heavy storms.
4) ALLITERATION: It is the repetition of the same consonant sound in several words near together of the same initial letter. Example; The heart filled with the fertility of soil which does not need any fertilizer to make it fertile
5) ANTI-CLIMAX: It is the opposite of climax in descend from higher level to lesser height, the intensity or the importance weakening, instead of increasing towards the end. Example; the explosion completely destroyed a church, two houses and a flower pot.
6) ANTITHESIS: It is implied when two ideas of contrast are employed in the same sentence to emphasise a point. Most antitheses are proverbial and are short. Example; united we stand divided we fall
Man proposes God disposes
Another example is an extract from the poem HEART HYMNS by the Author.
Who robs my soft body with a stony palm
That my body deadly needs to survive
Why thou honey my body with such poisonous fluid
Spat out from the old serpent
Which deceitfully turned merry heart to sorrowful heart
7) CLIMAX: This refers to a gradual ascension from a lower to a higher statement by successive steps. Example; I came, I saw I conquered. But his captainship, love and life was assassinated.
8) EPIGRAM: It is a brief witty saying. It can be satirical, paradoxical, humorous or simply clever. Example; I can resist everything but not temptation. Vision is the act of seeing things invisible.
9) EUPHEMISM: It is the use of indirect expression to replace words that are impolite, harsh or disagreeable. It is a way of dressing unpleasant news or statement with a beautiful and wise expression. Example is an extract from the poem HEART HYMNS
Such a treacherous sight
Gazes my bleeding heart eye
Whilst the eternal cloud
Taking thou a ride
With a joyful hymns as thou fades from the thin skies.
The above extract suggests that the person died.
10) HYPERBOLE: It is an exaggerated or an overstatement that has more striking effect than a plain language. Example is an extract from the poem HER BEAUTY.
Mountains bow down
At your astonishing beauty
Valleys nod heads
At your awesome beauty
Earth trembles heavily
At your endless beauty
11) IRONY: This refers to an opposite meaning to what one intended to say. Example; “Thank you so much for your help” after someone talks harshly to you while seeking direction from the person.
12) INVERSION: It is the change of usual or normal order of words for emphasis. Example; under your shadows will I sit with great delight.
13) INNUENDO OR INSINUATION: This refers to a hint speakers give to things instead of stating it plainly. Example; four doctors visited him and yet he is still alive.
14) LITOTES: This is understatement used when two negative are used to express a positive idea. Example; I am not unaware about your success party. I am not unmindful of your kindness. He is not unfriendly.
15) METAPHOR: It is an imaginative comparison of two unlike things without the use of connective words. Example is an extract from the poem AGE.
Age is such an honourable sorrow
That sings tunes of lovely dirge
To remind me of a world
That no living eye could see and craft
How beautiful its stay would be
16) METONYMY: It is a word or a phrase used to stand in for another word which is closely related to it. Example; the pen is mightier than the sword. (Pen stands for writer and sword stands for military force). I need more hands to finish this work. (Hands stand for people).
17) MEIOSIS: It is an understatement which aims at emphasising a point. Example; he is no coward. It means he is brave. John is no stupid.
18) MIXED METAPHORS: This refers to two or more metaphors used in the same context with reference to the same subject. Example; I was fishing for my book and after a long search reached my goal.
19) ONAMATOPOEIA: It is the use of words whose sounds naturally suggest their meaning. Example; I bring fresh showers for thirsty flowers.
20) OXYMORON: This is the use of two contradictory words in literary work to give a good effect. Example; she is faultily faultless.
21) PARADOX: It is an absurd, illogical or ridiculous statement which when understood becomes sensible and truthful. Example; your best friend is your worst enemy
22) PERSONIFICATION: This is where human qualities are attributed to an abstract or nonhuman, inanimate or a lifeless thing. Example is an extract from the poem THE QUEEN OF THE EARTH by the Author. The poem talks about the Ocean but it is personified with human attributes.
No sooner has the sun set
All worries will go if she let
The queen of the earth will make merry
If the sands can engage the queen and marry
Her rolls will not interrupt with her finest sweep
Far away, away from the silence deep
The voices of the queen will, will be heard
If rocks of the shores witness and not speared
23) PUN: It consists of the same sound being used with different meaning. Writers use it to give a rhyme effect. Example is an extract from the poem MY LOVE POTION by the Author.
As I was hovering around the ocean
There I beheld my first love in a motion
I could count his heart, love and notion
When he was sailing with no lotion
24) RHETORICAL QUESTION: It is a statement which is put in a questionable form but does not demand or expect any answer. Example is an extract from the poem THE KING’S SHORT REIGN.
Oh! Why the wicked robber
Entered the castle where my king merrily
Cheering bottles of love unprepared
To steal his reign from the sweetest castle of my heart
25) SARCASM: It is irony used without disguise and with contempt bitterness and biting ridicule. Example; God made him therefore let him pass for a man.
26) SIMILE: This is the comparison of two unlike things using connective words “like” and “as” and sometimes “than”. Example is the extract from the poem BE MY VALENTINE by the Author.
Red as rose you are
Your saliva is better than wine
Your tongue sounds like music at night
Your eyes sparkle in the midst of darkness
27) SUBDUED METAPHOR: It is an implied metaphor rather than one directly stated. Example; he faced the dark shadow of his job.
28) SYLEPSIS: It is a kind of ellipsis that a word is use in a sentence to a pair of words which is of different meaning in each case. Example; he lost his shirt and love.
29) SYNAESTHESIA OR SYNESTHESIA: This involves the shift in imagery or sensory metaphor.
30) SYNECDOCHE: It’s a statement that uses a part of something to refer to a whole entity or vice versa. Example; give us this day our daily bread (food). He gave me his golden heart (love).
31) TRANSFERRED EPITHET: This is where a qualifying adjective transferred from a person to a thing. Example; he lay all night on a sleepless pillow.I was sitting all day on my hungry chair.
32) TELESCOPED METAPHOR: Also called a complex metaphor, a telescoped metaphor appears when the vehicle of one metaphor becomes the tenor of another closely connected to it. Deutsche points out an example from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Here, Octavian speaks to Antony concerning Octavian’s sister, Octavia, who is also Antony’s wife. Octavia serves as a tie that binds the two men to each other politically. Octavian compares Octavia first to peace, then compares peace to cement, then makes a comparison to a battering ram: Let not the peace of Virtue which is set Betwixt us, as the cement of our love To keep it builded, be the Ram to batter The Fortune of it. Here, Caesar’s sister is the tenor, and “peace of Virtue” is the vehicle, initially. The “cement of love” is vehicle next, which has “peace of Virtue” as its tenor. That in turn is transformed into a battering ram as the metaphor continues to unfold and extend like a collapsible telescope. See further discussion of vehicle and tenor under metaphor.
33) VISION: This refers to an imaginary act in a prose or a verse that writers talk about the past or the future or the remote as if they knows or were present. Example is ACT5 Scene 5 of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools.
34) ZEUGMA: It is a term for using one word to modify two other words in two different ways.
Example; Romeo took his love and his leave
I stole his car and his heart.
Written By Joyceline Natally Cudjoe