views updated May 18 2018

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.