Speech figures: summary and examples

Figures of Language, also called style figures, are stylistic resources used to emphasize communication and make it more beautiful.

Depending on their role, they are classified into:

  • Word pictures or semantics: are associated with the meaning of words. Examples: metaphor, comparison, metonymy, catachresis, synesthesia and periphrasis.
  • thought figures: work with the combination of ideas and thoughts. Examples: hyperbole, euphemism, lithote, irony, personification, antithesis, paradox, gradation and apostrophe.
  • Syntax or Construction Figures: interfere with the grammatical structure of the sentence. Examples: ellipse, zeugma, hyperbate, polysyndeton, asyndeton, anacolute, pleonasm, silepsis and anaphora.
  • Sound or harmony figures: are associated with the sound of words. Examples: alliteration, paronomasia, assonance and onomatopoeia.

Word Pictures


THE metaphor represents a comparison of words with different meanings and whose comparative term is implied in the sentence.

Example: Life is a cloud that flies. (The life is like a cloud that flies.)

Cartoon with an example of Word Metaphor Figure
Use of metaphor in "my love is a caravan of roses wandering in an ineffable desert"


Call of Comparation explicit, unlike metaphor, in this case comparison connectives are used (as, well, as such).

Example: Your eyes are like jabuticabas.

Strip with example of Picture of word Comparison
Use of the comparison through the connective "like": "love is like a flower" and "love is like a car engine"


THE metonymy it is the transposition of meanings considering part for the whole, author for work.

Example: Used to read Shakespeare. (used to read the works of Shakespeare.)

Strip with example of Metonymy word picture
Use of metonymy that replaces the word ox with "heads of cattle"


THE catachresis represents the misuse of a word because there is no other more specific.

Example: boarded just on the plane.

Boarding is putting yourself on board a boat, but as there is no specific term for the plane, boarding is used.

Charge with example of Catacresis word figure
The use of the expression "stray bullet" is used because there is no other more specific


THE synesthesia it happens by the association of sensations by organs of different senses.

Example: with that cold eyes, she said she didn't like her girlfriend anymore.

Coldness is associated with touch and not sight.

Strip with example of Synesthesia word picture
In the strip, the expression "cold gaze" is an example of synesthesia


THE periphrasis, also called antonomasia, is the replacement of one or more words by another that identifies it.

Example: The roar of king of the jungles is heard at a distance of 8 kilometers. (The roar of the Lion is heard at a distance of 8 kilometers.)

Charge with example Períphrase word picture
In the cartoon above, "Terra da Garoa" replaces "city of São Paulo"

Thought Figures


THE hyperbole corresponds to the intentional exaggeration in the expression.

Example: Almost I died from studying.

Cartoon with example of Hyperbole thinking figure
The expression "dying with envy" is hyperbole


O euphemism is used to smooth speech.

Example: He gave his soul to God.

Above, the phrase informs someone's death.

Strip with example of Figure of thought Euphemism
In the cartoon above, the gossip explanation is used to soften the speech


O littor represents a way to soften an idea. In this sense it resembles the euphemism as well as the opposition of hyperbole.

Example: — It's not that they are bad company… — said the son to his mother.

From the speech, we realized that although their companies are not bad, they are not good either.


THE irony it is the representation of the opposite of what is stated.

Example: É so smart what doesn't hit anything.

Irony thinking figure image
Note the use of irony, since the character is angry with the person and used the term "intelligent" ironically


THE personification or prosopopeia is the attribution of human qualities and feelings to irrational beings.

Example: the garden looked the children without saying anything.

Cartoon with an example of Figure of thought Personification
The personification is expressed in the last part of the comic, where Zé Lelé states that the mirror is looking at him. Thus, a characteristic of living beings (looking) in an inanimate being (the mirror) was used.


THE antithesis it is the use of terms that have opposite meanings.

Example: All war ends where it should have started: the peace.

Strip with an example of an Antithesis thought figure
Use of the antithesis expressed by terms that have opposite meanings: positive, negative; bad, good; Peace and war


O paradox it represents the use of ideas that have opposite meanings, not just terms (as in the case of the antithesis).

Example: I am blind of love and I see how good this is.

How is it possible for someone to be blind and see?

Cartoon with example of Paradox thinking figure
Use of paradox by ideas with opposite meanings highlighted by terms that explain "certainty": relative and absolute


THE gradation it is the presentation of ideas that progress in an ascending (climax) or descending (anti-climax) way.

Example: Initially calm, after only controlled, to the point of total nervousness.

In the example above, we follow the progression from tranquility to nervousness.

Strip with example of Figure of thought Gradation
In the comic strip, the character increasingly explained the idea


THE apostrophe is the interpellation made with emphasis.

Example: oh God, does it need to rain more?

Cartoon with an example of an Apostrophe thought figure
We noticed the emphasis in the second part of the strip with the use of exclamation and question marks: "Oh my God!!! He's going to kill me" What do I do!? It's the end!"

Syntax figures


THE Ellipse it is the omission of an easily identifiable word.

Example: I hope you understand me. (Will take what you understand me.)

Strip with example of Ellipse syntax figure
In the second image of the comic, we notice the use of the ellipse: "then (he started) eating sandwiches between meals..."


THE zeugma it is the omission of a word because it has been used before.

Example: I made the introduction, he the conclusion. (I made the introduction, he did the conclusion.)

Strip with example of Zeugma syntax figure
Zeugma is used in the second and third part of the comics: "(you are) a nasal decongestant for my nose"; (you are) an antacid for my stomach!"


O hyperbatic it is the alteration of the direct order of prayer.

Example: Your students are like angels. (Your students are like angels.)

Charge with Hyperbato Syntax Figure example
The direct order of our hymn is "From the placid banks of the Ipiranga they heard a resounding cry of a heroic people"


O polysyndeton it is the repeated use of connectives.

Example: The children spoke and sang and they laughed happily.

Charge with example of Polysyndeton Syntax Figure
Use of the polysyndeton by repeating the connective "if it is"


O asyndeton represents the omission of connectives, being the opposite of the polysyndeton.

Example: Does not blow the wind; the vacancies do not moan; the rivers do not murmur.

Poem with example syntax figure Asyndeton


O anacolutton it is the sudden change in sentence structure.

Example: Me, looks like I'm getting dizzy. (Looks like I'm getting dizzy.)

Poem with example of Anacoluto syntax figure


Pleonasm it is the repetition of the word or idea contained in it to intensify the meaning.

Example: me me looks like this is wrong. (Seems to me this is wrong.)

Strip with example of Pleonasm syntax figure
In the comic above, the word "out" is a pleonasm, since the verb "to leave" already means "out"


THE silepsis it is the agreement with what is meant and not with what is implied. It is classified into: silepsis of gender, number and person.


  • We live in the beautiful and bustling São Paulo. (gender silepsis: We live in the beautiful and bustling city ​​of Sao Paulo.)
  • Most customers were dissatisfied with the product. (number silepsis: Most of customers stayed dissatisfied with the product.)
  • We've all finished the exercises. (person silepsis: in this case I agree with us instead of them: Everyone finished the exercises.)
Strip with example of Silepse Syntax Figure
Use of person silepsis in "more than half of the world's population we are children" and "the children, let's take the world in our hands"


THE anaphora is the repetition of one or more words on a regular basis.

Example: If you get out, if you to stay, if you want to wait. If you “anything”, I will always be here for you.

Strip with example of Anaphora syntax figure
Use of anaphora by repeating the term "lack"

Sound Figures


THE alliteration it is the repetition of consonant sounds.

Example: O ract roi the rcare of the rhey of ROman.

Strip with example of Sound Figure Alliteration
Use of alliteration in "The mouse gnawed at the clothes of the king of Rome"


Paronomasia it is the repetition of words that sound similar.

Example: O Knight, much Knight, conquered the maiden. (knight = man who rides a horse, gentleman = gentle man)

Charge with example of Paronomasia sound figure
Use of paronomasia through terms that sound similar: "grass" and "money"


THE assonance it is the repetition of vowel sounds.


"O what O vagO and incógniO wishO
dand sandr andaandsmo ofand mandusandr mand dandu." (Fernando Pessoa)

Strip with example Sound Figure Assonance
In the strip above, the use of assonance is expressed by the repetition of the vowels "a" in: "massa", "salga", "amassa"


Onomatopoeia it is the insertion of words in speech that imitate sounds.

Example: I can't stand the TIC Tac of that watch.

Example of a cartoon with an Onomatopoeia sound figure
In the first and last square we have the use of onomatopoeia with "Bum, Bum, Bum" and "Buááá...; Buaah...". The first expresses the sound of the drum, and the second, the cry of the chives

Summary of Language Figures

Check in the table below what differentiates each of the figures of speech, as well as each of their types.

Figures of Words or Semantics Thought Figures Syntax or construction figures Sound Figures or Harmony
They produce greater expressiveness to communication through words. They produce greater expressiveness to communication through the combination of ideas and thoughts. They produce greater expressiveness to communication through inversion, repetition or omission of terms in the construction of sentences. They produce greater expressiveness to communication through sound.
  • metaphor
  • Comparation
  • metonymy
  • catachresis
  • synesthesia
  • periphrasis or antonomasia
  • hyperbole
  • euphemism
  • littor
  • irony
  • personification or prosopopeia
  • antithesis
  • paradox or oxymoron
  • gradation or climax
  • apostrophe
  • Ellipse
  • pleonasm
  • zeugma
  • hyperbatic
  • silepsis
  • polysyndeton
  • asyndeton
  • anacolutton
  • anaphora
  • alliteration
  • paronomasia
  • assonance
  • onomatopoeia

Want a tip?

Finally, we leave a trick that will help you even more in the Vestibular and Enem. Watch this video produced by the Dom Bosco Catholic University:

Vesti & Bular - Figures of the Language of Love (Vestibular Mallet)

Entrance Exam Exercises

1. (UNITAU) In the phrase: “A white and cold word”, we find the figure named:

a) synesthesia
b) euphemism
c) onomatopoeia
d) antonomasia
e) catachresis

Alternative to: synesthesia.

2. (Anhembi Morumbi University)

"The novelty hit the beach
in the rare mermaid quality
half a bust of a mayan goddess
half a big whale's tail
the novelty was the maximum
of the paradox stretched out in the sand
some wanting your goddess kisses
others to wish your ass for supper
oh so uneven world
everything so unequal
on one side this carnival
on the other, total hunger
and the novelty that would be a dream
smiling mermaid miracle
it became such a ghastly nightmare
there on that beach, there on the sand
the novelty was the war
between the happy poet and the hungry
tearing a pretty mermaid apart
shattering the dream to each side"

(Gilberto Gil – The News)

Gilberto Gil in his poem uses a textual construction procedure that consists of grouping ideas of opposite or contradictory meanings in the same unit of meaning.

The figure of speech characterized above is:

a) metonymy
b) paradox
c) hyperbole
d) synesthesia
e) synecdoche

Alternative b: paradox.

Keep practicing on the topic:

  • Speech Figure Exercises
  • Language Functions Exercises
  • Exercises on denotation and connotation
Figures of Language - All Matter
Denotation and Connotation: denotative and connotative sense

Denotation and Connotation: denotative and connotative sense

THE connotation and denotation they are language manifestations that are related to the meanings ...

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What is Zeugma?

Zeugma is a figure of speech that is in the category of syntax or construction figures. This is b...

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What is Periphrase?

A periphrase is a figure of speech that is related to words. For this reason, it is in the word p...

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