figure of speech

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figure of speech, intentional departure from straight-forward, literal use of language for the purpose of clarity, emphasis, or freshness of expression. See separate articles on antithesis; apostrophe; conceit; hyperbole; irony; litotes; metaphor; metonymy; paradox; personification; simile; and synecdoche.

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FIGURE OF SPEECH, also figure. In RHETORIC, a device that achieves a special effect by using words in distinctive ways, such as ALLITERATION, in which the same sound, especially an initial consonant, is repeated, as with /f/ in life's fitful fever, and HYPERBOLE, in which one engages, usually deliberately, in unrealistic exaggeration, as in the informal phrase tons of money (‘a great deal of money’). Here, a word usually associated with weights and measures has been moved out of context to refer to money, with which it is not normally associated. See FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE.