Glossary of rhetorical terms
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Rhetorical Theory is a subject rife with
jargon and special terminology. This page explains commonly
used rhetorical terms in alphabetical order. The brief
definitions here are intended to serve as a quick reference
rather than an in-depth discussion.
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- Accumulation. The
emphasis or summary of previously made points
or inferences by excessive praise or accusation.
- Acutezza. Wit or
wordplay used in rhetoric.
- Adjunction. When a verb
is placed at the beginning or the end of a sentence
instead of in the middle. For example (from Rhetorica
ad Herennium), "At the beginning, as follows:
'Fades physical beauty with disease or age.' At
the end, as follows: 'Either with disease or age
physical beauty fades.'"
- Aesthetics. The examination
of symbolic expression to determine its rhetorical
- Aetiologia. Giving
a cause or a reason.
- Affectus. A term
used by the Italian Humanists of the Renaissance
to describe the source of emotions or passions
in the human mind.
- Alloisis. The breaking
down of a subject into its alternatives.
- Alliteration. Different
words beginning with the same letter.
- Ambigua. An ambiguous
statement used in making puns.
- Amplificatio. An
all-purpose term for all the ways an argument
can be expanded and enhanced.
- Amplification. The act
and the means of extending thoughts or statements
to increase rhetorical effect, to add importance,
or to make the most of a thought or circumstance.
- Anacoenosis. A
speaker asks his or her audience or opponents
for their opinion or answer to the point in question.
- Anacoluthon. An
abrupt change of syntax within a sentence. (What
I want is — like anybody cares.)
- Anadiplosis. Repeating
the last word of one clause or phrase to begin
- Analogy. The use of a
similar or parallel case or example to reason
or argue a point.
- Anaphora. From the Greek
"I repeat". A succession of sentences beginning
with the same word or group of words.
- Anastrophe. Inversion
of the natural word order.
- Anecdote. A brief narrative
describing an interesting or amusing event.
- Animorum motus.
- Antanaclasis. From Greek
̩ ̩ ̩ἀντανάκλασις,
a figure of speech involving a pun, consisting
of the repeated use of the same word, each time
with different meanings.
- Antinome. (pronounced
an-ta-nome) Two ideas about the same topic that
can be worked out to a logical conclusion, but
the conclusions contradict each other.
- Antiptosis. The
substitution of one case for another.
- Antistrophe. In rhetoric,
repeating the last word in successive phrases.
For example (from Rhetorica ad Herennium),
"'Since the time when from our state concord disappeared,
liberty disappeared, good faith disappeared, friendship
disappeared, the common weal disappeared.'" Also
- Antithesis. The juxtaposition
of contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words,
phrases, or grammatical structures; the second
stage of the dialectic process.
- Aphaeresis. The
omission of a syllable from the beginning of a
- Apocope. The omission
of the last letter or syllable of a word.
- Apophasis / Apophesis.
Pretending to deny something as a means of implicitly
affirming it. Mentioning something by saying that
you won't mention it.
- Aporia. An attempt
to discredit an opposing viewpoint by casting
doubt on it.
- Aposiopesis. An
abrupt stop in the middle of a sentence; used
by a speaker to convey unwillingness or inability
to complete a thought or statement.
- Apostrophe. From
a figure of speech consisting of a sudden turn
in a text towards an exclamatory address to an
imaginary person or a thing.
- Appeals. Rhetorical devices
used to enhance the plausibility of one's argument;
Aristotle's appeals included ethos, logos, and
- Arete. Virtue,
excellence of character, qualities that would
be inherent in a "natural leader," a component
- Argument. Discourse characterized
by reasons advanced to support conclusions.
- Argumentum ad baculum.
Settling a question by appealing to force.
- Argumentum ad hominem.
Using what you know about your opponent's character
as a basis for your argument.
- Arrangement. See dispositio.
- Ars arengandi.
Teaching of forensic speaking during the Medieval
- Ars dictaminis.
The art of writing letters, introduced and taught
during the Medieval rhetorical era.
- Ars poetria. Medieval
teaching of grammar and style through analysis
- Ars praedicandi.
The art of preaching based on rhetorical ideas
and introduced during the Medieval rhetorical
era during an increasing intersection between
rhetoric and religion.
- Artistic proofs. Rhetorically-produced
methods for persuasion. For Aristotle, three possibilities
would be ethos, pathos, and logos.
- Asyndeton. The deliberate
omission of conjunctions that would normally be
- Audience. Real, imagined,
invoked, or ignored, this is a concept that seems
to be at the very center of the intersections
of composing and rhetoric.
- Auxesis. To place
words or phrases in a certain order to obtain
a climactic effect.
- Axioms. The point where
scientific reasoning starts. Principles that are
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- Backing. Supporting an
- Barbarism. Mispronunciation
or unnatural word-usage.
- Bases. The issues at question
in a judicial case.
- Bathos. An emotional
appeal that inadvertently evokes laughter or ridicule.
- Bdelygmia. Expression
of hatred or contempt.
- Belles lettres. Written
works considered quality because they are pleasing
to the senses.
- Belletristic Movement.
Movement of rhetoric in the late 18th and early
19th centuries emphasizing stylistic considerations
of rhetoric. It also expanded rhetoric into a
study of literature and literary criticism and
- Bomphiologia. Bombastic
speech: a rhetorical technique wherein the speaker
- Brachylogia. Brevity
- Brevitas. Concise
- Burden of proof. Theory
of argument giving the obligation of proving a
case to the challenging party.
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- Canon. A term often used
to discuss significant literary works in a specific
field, used by Cicero to outline five significant
parts of the rhetorical composition process.
- Captatio benevolentiae.
Latin term for the part of a letter which secures
the goodwill of the recipient.
- Catachresis. The inexact
use of a similar word in place of the proper one
to create an unlikely metaphor. For example (from
Rhetorica ad Herennium), "'The power of
man is short'" or "'the long wisdom in the man.'"
- Charisma. An attribute
that allows a speaker's words to become powerful.
- Chiasmus. From the name
of the Greek letter "χ",
a figure of speech consisting of the contrasting
of two structurally parallel syntactic phrases
arranged "cross-wise", i.e. in such a way that
the second is in reverse order from the first.
- Circa rem. Latin:
The circumstances surrounding the act in
one Roman topical system.
- Claim 1. A primary point
being made to support an argument. 2. Stephen
Toulmin: the resulting conclusion to an argument.
- Classicism. A revival
in the interest of classical antiquity languages
- Climax. Climax occurs
when words or sentences are used to increase weight
by mounting degrees in parallel construction.
- Colon. A colon (Greek
κῶλον) is a rhetorical figure consisting of a
clause which is grammatically, but not logically,
- Common Topics. Arguments
and approaches useful in rhetorical settings;
- Consubstantiality. Substance
- Conclusio. Latin:
A letter's conclusion.
- Confirmatio. Latin:
The section of a judicial speech (in Roman rhetorical
theory) that offers evidence supporting the claims
given during the statement of facts.
- Confutatio. Latin:
Counterargument in Roman rhetorical theory.
- Constraints. Referring
to "persons, events, objects, and relations which
are parts of the situation because they have the
power to constrain decision and action needed
to modify the exigence." Originally used by Lloyd
- Contingency. In rhetoric,
it relates to the contextual circumstances that
do not allow an issue to be settled with complete
- Context. The circumstances
surrounding an issue that should be considered
during its discussion.
- Conversio. Latin:
Varrying sentence structure to discover its most
- Conversation model. The
model, in critique of traditional rhetoric by
Sally Gearhart, that maintains the goal of rhetoric
is to persuade others to accept your own personal
view as correct.
- Cookery. Plato believed
rhetoric was to truth as cookery was to medicine.
Cookery disguises itself as medicine and appears
to be more pleasing, when in actuality it has
no real benefit.
- Critical theory. Systematically
analyzing any means of communication for hidden
assumptions and connotations.
- Concession. Acknowledgment
of objections to a proposal
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- Data. Stephen Toulmin.
Initial evidence supporting a claim.
- Deconstruction. Analyzing
communication artifacts by scrutinizing their
meanings and related assumptions, with the goal
of determining the social and systemic connotations
behind their structure.
- Deduction. Moving from
an overall hypothesis to infer something specific
about that hypothesis.
- Delectare, To delight;
viewed by Cicero as one of the three goals of
- Delivery. Canon #5 in
Cicero's list of rhetorical canons; traditionally
linked to oral rhetoric, refers to how a speech
is given (including tone of voice and nonverbal
gestures, among others).
- Demos. The population
of an ancient Greek state, considered a political
entity; population; the common people.
- Dialectic. A rhetorical
term that has been defined differently by Aristotle
and Ramus, among others; generally, it means using
verbal communication between people to discuss
topics in order to come to an agreement about
- Diallage. Establishing
a single point with the use of several arguments.
- Dictamen. The art
of writing letters.
Dispositio. In the classical
theory of the production of speech
Pronuntiatio dispositio refers to
the stage of planning the structure and sequence
of ideas. Often referred to as arrangement, the
second of Cicero's five rhetorical canons.
- Dissoi Logoi. Contradictory
- Distribution. Dividing
a whole subject into its various parts.
- Divisio. To divide
into categories or classes.
- Docere. To teach;
viewed by Cicero as one of the three goals of
- Dramatistic. Kenneth Burke.
Way to look at the nature of language stressing
on language as an action. ex. uses expressions
such as 'thou shalt' and 'thou shalt not."
- Dysphemism. A term with
negative associations for something in reality
fairly innocuous or inoffensive.
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- Ecphonesis. A sentence
consisting of a single word or short phrase ending
with an exclamation point.
- Ellipse. The suppression
of ancillary words to render an expression more
lively or more forceful.
- Elocutio. In the classical
theory of the production of a speech (Pronuntiatio),
elocution refers to the stage of elaborating
the wording of a text, using correct grammar and
- Enallage. The switching
of grammatical forms for an expressive purpose.
- Enthymeme. A type of argument
that is grounded in assumed commonalities between
a rhetor and the audience. (For example: Claim
1: Bob is a person. Therefore, Claim 3: Bob is
mortal. The assumption (unstated Claim 2) is that
People are mortal.) A type of syllogism. Started
- Enumeratio. Making
a point more forcibly by listing detailed causes
or effects; to enumerate: count off or list one
- Epanalepsis. A figure
of speech in which the same word or phrase appears
both at the beginning and at the end of a clause.
- Epanaphora. In rhetoric,
repeating the same word or phrase at the beginning
of successive phrases for emphasis. For example
(from Rhetorica ad Herennium), "'To you
must go the credit for this, to you are thanks
due, to you will this act of yours bring glory.'"
- Epideictic. Ceremonial
rhetoric, such as might be found in a funeral
or victory speech.
- Epiphora. The repetition
of a phrase or word at the end of several sentences
or clauses. Also see anaphora.
- Epistemology. Philosophical
study directed at understanding how people gain
- Epistrophe. A succession
of clauses, phrases or sentences that all end
with the same word or group of words.
- Epithet. A term used as
a descriptive and qualifying substitute for the
name of a person, place or thing.
- Epizeuxis. Emphasizing
an idea using one word repetition.
- Eristic. Communicating
with the aim of winning the argument regardless
of truth. The idea is not necessarily to lie,
but to present the communication so cleverly that
the audience is persuaded by the power of the
- Erotema. The so-called
'Rhetorical Question', where a question is asked
to which an answer is not expected.
- Ethos. A rhetorical appeal
to an audience based on the speaker/writer's credibility.
- Ethopoeia. The act of
putting oneself into the character of another
to convey that persons feelings and thoughts more
- Euphemism. An innocuous,
inoffensive or circumlocutory term or phrase for
something unpleasant or obscene.
- Evidence. In rhetoric,
facts or testimony used to strengthen a claim.
- Exemplum. The citation
of an example, either truthful or fictitious.
- Exigence. A rhetorical
call to action; a situation that compels someone
to speak out.
- Exordium. The introductory
(Lat: exordium, beginning) portion of an oration
- Expression. applying the
correct language to an argument.
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- Fable. A short allegorical
- Facetiae. Latin,
humor or wit
- Facilitas . The
improvising of effective oral or written language
to suit any situation.
- Faculty psychology. 18th
Century, the mind contains faculties that include
understanding, imagination, passion, and will.
- False consciousness. Jurgen
Habermas, a distorted view of reality, people,
and the world.
- Feminist Rhetoric. Rhetorical
theory concerned with feminism and its critique
of social structures.
- Fictio. The attribution
of rational traits to non-rational creatures.
- Field-dependent. Stephen
Toulmin's term, standards for assessing arguments
that are specific to a certain field.
- Field-invariant. Stephen
Toulmin's term, standards for assessing arguments
that are not determined by the particular field.
- Figure. Unusual arrangement
of language that tries to achieve unique meaning
- Forensic Oratory. speaking
in a courtroom.
- Forum. Jim Porter's book
on audience introduces this concept as a way to
complicate our notions of audience and to help
writers consider important factors that affect
planning and composing.
- Gens. Latin, an
influential group of families
- Genera. (Plural
of genus) Classification by race, kind, or possession
of similarities; descriptive of different types
- Graecismus. The
use of Greek idiom.
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- Hendiadys. Using two nouns
linked by a conjunction to express a single complex
- Hermeneutics. The theoretical
underpinnings of interpreting texts, usually religious
- Heteroglossia. The many
prolific languages of any culture.
- Heuristics. Determining
or applying the proper methods for investigation.
- Homiologia. A tedious
style or redundancy of style.
- Homoioteleuton. From the
Greek ομοιοτέλευτο (homios, "like" and teleute,
"ending"). A figure of speech where adjacent or
parallel words have similar endings.
- Horismus. A brief
and often antithetical definition.
- Hypallage. A literary
device that reverses the syntactic relation of
two words (as in "her beauty's face").
- Hyperbaton. A figure of
speech in which words that naturally belong together
are separated from each other for emphasis or
- Hyperbole. A figure of
speech where emphasis is achieved through exaggeration,
independently or through comparison. For example
(from Rhetorica ad Herennium), "'His body
was as white as snow, his face burned like fire.'"
- Hypophora. When a speaker
asks aloud what his/her adversaries have to say
for themselves or against the speaker, and then
proceeds to answer the question. For example (from
Rhetorica ad Herennium), "'When he reminded
you of your old friendship, were you moved? No,
you killed him nevertheless, and with even greater
eagerness. And then when his children grovelled
at your feet, were you moved to pity? No, in your
extreme cruelty you even prevented their father's
- Hypothesis. An educated
- Hypsos. Great or
worthy writing, sometimes called sublime. Longinus's
theme in On the Sublime.
- Hypozeuxis. A sentence
in which every clause has its own subject and
- Hysteron proteron. A rhetorical
device in which the first key word of the idea
refers to something that happens temporally later
than the second key word. The goal is to call
attention to the more important idea by placing
- Icon. Using imagery to
- Identification. Connecting
with a larger group through a shared interpretation
or understanding of a larger concept; Kenneth
Burke was one of the first people to use the term
in this way.
- Ideology. A way of understanding
one's external surroundings.
- Ignoratio elenchi.
A conclusion that is irrelevant.
- Imitatio. Latin,
- Inartistic proofs. Discovered
information stemming from the raw data of experience.
- Indefinite questions.
In Quintlian, questions that are discussed without
referring to anything specifically.
- Indignatio. To
arouse indignation in the audience.
- Induction. Rhetorical
method for coming to general conclusions through
- Ingenium. Latin,
In Vico- the ability to understand similarities
and relationships that is innate in all humans.
- In re. Latin, arguments
concerned with what actually happened.
- Institutio Oratoria
. Educational and rhetorical principles as described
and prescribed in treatise by Quintillian.
- Insultatio. Abusing
a person to his/her face by using irony and derisive
- Interlacement. Combining
the figures Antistrophe and Epanaphora for rhetorical
style and emphasis. For example (from Rhetorica
ad Herennium), "'Who are they who have often
broken treaties? The Carthaginians. Who are they
who have waged ware with severest cruelty? The
- Intersubjective agreements.
agreements on the fair conduct of an argument
among individuals participating in dialogue.
- Invention. Described by
Cicero as the process of determining "valid or
seemingly valid arguments;" the first of his five
- Invitational rhetoric.
(Foss and Griffin) rhetoric that is not intended
- Ioci. Jokes, see
Cicero's De Oratore and his theory of humor.
- Irony. A deliberate contrast
between indirect and direct meaning to draw attention
to the opposite.
- Isocolon. A string of
phrases of corresponding structure and equal length.
- Issues of definition.
Things related to naming an act.
- Issues of fact. Issues
related to an act's occurrence.
- Issues of quality. Issues
related to the seriousness of an act.
- Jargon. Highly technical
language used by specific group.
- Jian shi . Traveling
political advisors common in ancient China.
- Judicial. Type of oratory
used to attack or defend someone.
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- Kairos. From the
Greek word καιρος. Generally means, "timing" or
"the right circumstances."
- Kategoria. Greek
- Koinoi topoi. Common
topics; in a rhetoric situation, useful arguments
- Koinonia. To consult
with your opponent or judge.
- Kolakeia. Flattery;
telling people what they want to hear while disregarding
their best interests; employed by sophistic rhetoricians.
- Latinitas. Stylistic feature
involving the proper use of language.
- Literae humanae.
Academic disciplines that are known as the liberal
arts: languages, philosophy, history, literature,
music, art and certain abstract sciences.
- Litotes. Stating a positive
by negating the negative — a form of understatement.
("I am not unaware of your difficulties.")
- Localism. A word, phrase,
or custom particular to one's location.
- Loci communes.
Types of arguments. Quintillian trained orators
to learn intellectual habits to access the arguments
- Locution. Refers
to the utterance of a statement.
- Logical Fallacy. Misconceptions
resulting from faulty reasoning.
- Logical positivism. The
effort to make scientific standards applicable
for resolving all issues.
- Logical Proof. Arguments
used to persuade audience. Reasoned.
- Logos. Rhetorical
appeals based on logic or reasoning.
- Logology. Kenneth
Burke. Study of the specific theological terms
used. Not to find the truth or falseness of the
statement, but why that particular word was chosen.
- Major premise. Statement
in a syllogism. Generalization.
- Magnanimity. Doing good
to others, "its opposite is meanness of spirit"
(from Aristotle's Rhetoric).
- Malcolmism. To overwork
a simple assignment - to focus on look vs. content.
To micro manage a project to an extreme, beyond
any value add. To judge a person on looks vs.
substance/character/knowledge. The ultimate ladder
climber who's only interest is to please his/her
superiors to get the next promotion.
- Material fallacy. False
notion concerning the subject matter of an argument.
- Maxim. "A saying drawn
from life, which shows concisely either what happens
or ought to happen in life, for example: 'Every
beginning is difficult.'" (from Rhetorica ad
- Memory. Described by Cicero
as the "firm mental grasp of matter and words;"
the fourth of his five rhetorical canons.
- Metanarrative. Universal
theories positing to know all aspects of humanity.
- Metaphor. A figure of
speech where a word that normally applies to one
thing is used to designate another for the sake
of creating a mental picture. For example (from
Rhetorica ad Herennium), "'...he lightly
breathed a favoring breath'".
- Metonymy. A figure of
speech which substitutes one word or phrase for
another with which it is closely associated. For
example (from Rhetorica ad Herennium),
"one should say 'wine' for 'Liber', 'wheat' for
'Ceres'." In UK, people speak of "Crown
property" meaning property belonging to the Sovereign.
Similarly: "The White House had no comment
to make." (= the President's representatives)
- Minor premise. Statement
in an argument.
- Modus inveniendi.
Latin, in St Augustine, material used to understand
- Modus proferendi.
Latin, in St. Augustine, expressing ideas found
within the scriptures.
- Moral reasoning. Reasoning
employed in rhetoric that determines a conclusion
based on evidence. Used in issues of ethics, religion,
economics, and politics.
- Motive. Something that
plays a role in one's decision to act.
- Movere. To persuade;
viewed by Cicero as one of the three goals of
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- Narratio. A presentation
of essential facts in a judicial speech.
- Narration. Story telling,
involving the elements of time, place, actor,
action, cause and manner.
- Necessary Cause. Cause
without which effect couldn't/wouldn't have occurred.
- Negatio. To negate
- Neoplatonism. School of
thought emanating from the works of Plato and
Aristotle in early B.C.E. Rome.
- Noema. Speech that
is deliberately subtle or obscure.
- Nomos. Greek, a
social custom or convention.
- Non Sequitur. A
statement bearing no relationship to the preceding
- Notaries. Secretaries
trained in rhetoric for dealing with the agreements
that were needed for commercial cities in Italy
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- Oictos. To show
pity or compassion.
- Ominatio. A prophecy
- Onomatopoeia. Words that
imitate the sounds, objects, or actions they refer
to. (ex. "buzz", "hullabaloo," "bling")
- Opening. First part of
discourse. Should gain audiences' attention.
- Optatio. A wish
- Oxymoron. A condensed
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- Parachesis. Repetition
of the same sound in several words in close succession.
Alliteration (initial rhyme) is a special case
- Paradeigma. Greek, argument
created by a list of examples that leads to a
probable generalized idea.
- Paralipsis. When a rhetor
refuses to continue with their current discussion,
or passes over the rest of the conversation, or
admits that they do not know what else to say.
For example, (from Rhetorica ad Herennium),
"'Your boyhood, indeed, which you dedicated to
intemperance of all kinds, I would discuss, if
I thought this the right time. But at the present
I advisedly leave that aside. This too I pass
by, that the tribunes have reported you as irregular
in military service.'"
- Parallel Syntax. repetition
of similar sentence structures.
- Parisosis. When clauses
have very similar lengths, as measured by syllables;
sometimes taken as equivalent to isocolon.
- Paromoiosis. Parallelism
of sound between the words of two clauses approximately
equal in size. The similarity of sound can occur
at the beginning of the clauses, at the end (where
it is equivalent to homoioteleuton), in the middle
or throughout the clauses.
- Paronomasia. A play on
words, often for humorous effect.
- Particular audience. In
Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca, the actual audience
the orator addresses.
- Pathos. Greek,
the emotional appeal to an audience in an argument.
One of Aristotle's three proofs.
- Perfectus orator. Latin,
a complete orator.
- Periphrasis. The substitution
of many or several words where one would suffice;
usually to avoid using that particular word.
- Peroratio. Latin, the
last section of a judicial speech where the speaker
is the strongest.
- Personification. A figure
of speech that gives human characteristics to
inanimate objects, or represents an absent person
as being present. For example (from Rhetorica
ad Herennium), "'But if this invincible city
should now give utterance to her voice, would
she not speak as follows?'"
- Petitio. Latin, in a letter,
an announcement, demand, or request.
- Phallogocentrism. Examines
the relationship between logos (reason) and the
phallus (representative of male genitalia). Just
as the phallus is implicitly and sometime explicitly
assumed to be the only significant sexual organ,
the masculine is the accepted as the central point
of reference of validity and authority for a society.
- Phronesis. Greek, practical
wisdom; common sense.
- Physis. Greek, the strong
will rule over the weak.
- Pian. Ancient China, the
art of disputing.
- Plausibility. Rhetoric
that is believable right away due to its association
with something that the audience already knows
or has experienced.
- Pleonasm. The use of more
words than necessary to express an idea.
- Poetriae,Ars. Latin, poetry
as an art.
- Polis. Greek, the city-state,
especially the people in the city-state.
- Polyphonic. Having multiple
- Polyptoton. The repetition
of a word or root in different cases or inflections
within the same sentence.
- Polysyndeton. The repeated
use of conjunctions within a sentence, particularly
where they do not necessarily have to be used.
- Portrayal. Describing
a person clearly enough for recognition. For example
(from Rhetorica ad Herennium), "'I mean
him, men of the jury, the ruddy, short, bent man,
with white and rather curly hair, blue-grey eyes,
and a huge scar on his chin, if perhaps you can
recall him to memory.'"
- Position. The stance taken
by a rhetor that s/he is attempting to prove through
- Positivism. Term created
by Auguste Comte that posits that science, math,
or logic can prove any reasonable claim.
- Postmodernism. Related
to rhetoric, a field of inquiry concerned with
the ideological underpinnings of commonly held
- Praedicandi, Ars. Latin,
- Praegnans constructio.
A form of brachylogy in which two clauses or two
expressions are condensed into one.
- Pragmatism. Field of thought
positing that knowledge was fluid and that traditionally
"fixed" entities (like time) were largely contextual;
believed that a free society with free individuals
was a viable standard for living.
- Presence. In Perelman
and Olbrechts-Tyteca, choosing to emphasize certain
facts and ideas instead of others, leading the
audience along that path.
- Presumption. An idea is
reasonable or acceptable only until it is sufficiently
- Prolepsis. A literary
device in which a future state is spoken of in
the present; for example, a condemned man may
be called a "dead man walking".
- Proof surrogate. An expression
used to suggest that there is evidence or authority
for a claim without actually citing such evidence
- Pronuntiato. Latin:
The delivery of an oration or an argument in a
manner befitting the subject matter and style,
while maintaining control of voice and body.
- Protreptic. Greek, the
potential to persuade through language.
- Prudence. Judging practically.
- Psychagogos. Greek for
- Psyche. Greek for the
mind or soul.
- Public Sphere. Place where
individuals can engage in discussion without the
political or state interests interfering.
- Purpose. What are we trying
to do with our uses of language?
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- Quadrivium. The major
subjects taught in medieval times: geometry, arithmetic,
astronomy, and music.
- Quaestiones. Debatable
points around which disputes are centered.
- Reasoning by Contraries.
Where the first statement of two opposite statements
directly proves the second. For example (from
Rhetorica ad Herennium), "'Or how should
you expect a person whose arrogance has been insufferable
in private life, to be agreeable and not forget
himself when in power...?'"
- Rebuttal. Stephen Toulmin's
term, conditions on the acceptability of a claim.
- Res. Latin: An
- Rhetor. A person who is
in the course of presenting or preparing rhetorical
- Rhetores. (Greek) Those
who make a living by speaking persuasively.
- Rhetoric. The study and
practice of good effective expression. Also a
type of discourse- focusing on goals of the speech
or piece of writing that attempts to sway the
mind of the audience.
- Rhetorical Audience. Those
who can be persuaded by rhetoric.
- Rhetorical discourse.
Discourse created within the boundary of the principles
- Rhetorical opposition.
Protagoras's idea that there are two sides to
- Rhetorical Situation.
A term made popular by Lloyd Bitzer; describes
the scenario that contains a speech act, including
the considerations (purpose, audience, author/speaker,
constraints to name a few) that play a role in
how the act is produced and perceived by its audience.
The counterargument regarding Bitzer's situation-rhetoric
relationship was made by Richard E. Vatz in "The
Myth of the Rhetorical Situation." He argued for
a salience-meaning (or now, agenda-framing-spin)
model of persuasion, which emphasized rhetoric
as a creative act with increased agent or persuader
responsibility for the situation his or her rhetoric
creates. He maintained this added to the importance
of rhetorical study.
- Rhetorical Theory. The
organized presentation of the art or rhetoric,
descriptions of the various functions of rhetoric,
and clarifications of how rhetoric achieves its
- Rhetoric of Fiction. Wayne
Booth's idea "the author's judgement is always
present" in a narrative.
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- Salon. Intellectual assembly
in an aristocratic setting; primarily associated
with France in the 1600s and 1700s.
- Salutatio. (Latin)
A written greeting.
- Sannio. (Latin)
the fool. The role to avoid when using humor in
- Scholasticism. Rhetorical
study of Christianity that was intellectually
prominent in 11th-15th Century Western Europe,
emphasizing rhetorical concepts by Aristotle and
a search for universal truth.
- Scientific Method. A system
of observing and analyzing data through induction;
prominent school of thought since the 1600s whose
proponents are often critical of rhetoric.
- Scientific Reasoning.
Moving from axioms to actual conclusions. Also
- Scientism. In Weaver,
applying scientific assumptions to subjects that
are not completely natural.
- Scientistic. Kenneth Burke.
Way of looking at the nature of language as a
way of naming or defining something. ex. 'It is'
or 'It is not.'
- Second Sophistic. Rhetorical
era in Rome that dealt primarily with rhetorical
style through some of the Greek Sophists' concepts,
while neglecting its political and social uses
because of censorship.
- Semantics. Philosophical
study of language that deals with its connection
to perceptions of reality.
- Semiotics. Branch of semantics
concerning language and communication as a system
- Senatus. Latin
for Senate. The group of elders who governed Rome.
- Sensus Communis. a society's
basic beliefs and values.
- Sententia. Applying
a general truth to a situation by quoting a maxim
or other wise saying as a conclusion or summary
of that situation.
- Shui. Formal persuasion
in ancient China.
- Sign. Term from semiotics
that describes something that has meaning through
its connection to something else, like words.
- Signifying. Term from
semiotics that describes the method through which
meaning is created with arbitrary signs.
- Simile. A figure of speech
that compares unlike things, implying a resemblance
between them. For example (from Rhetorica ad
Herennium), "'He entered the combat in body
like the strongest bull, in impetuosity like the
- Skepticism. Type of thought
that questions whether universal truth exists
and is attainable by humans.
- Solecismus. Ignorantly
misusing tenses, cases, and genders.
- Sophists. Considered the
first professional teachers of oratory and rhetoric
(ancient Greece 4th Century B.C.).
- Soraismus. The
ignorant or affected mingling of languages.
- Sprezzatura. The ability
to appear that there is seemingly little effort
used to attain success. The art of being able
to show that one is able to deceive. Baldessare
- Starting Points. In Perelman
and Olbrechts-Tyteca, the place between the speaker
and audience where the argument can begin.
- Stasis System. System
of finding arguments by means of looking at ideas
that are contradictory.
- Status quo. Latin:
The generally accepted existing condition or state
- Straw man. An argument
that is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation
of an opponent's position.
- Studia humanitas.
Latin: Humanistic studies deemed indispensable
in Renaissance-era education; rhetoric, poetics,
- Syllepsis. A word modifying
others in appropriate, though often incongruous
ways. This is a similar concept to zeugma.
- Syllogism. A type of valid
argument that states if the first two claims are
true, then the conclusion is true. (For example:
Claim 1: People are mortal. Claim 2: Bob is a
person. Therefore, Claim 3: Bob is mortal.) Started
- Syllogistic Logic. See
- Symbol. A visual or metaphorical
representation of an idea or concept.
- Symbolic inducement. Term
coined by Kenneth Burke to refer to rhetoric.
- Sympheron. (Greek)
Path that is to one's advantage.
- Symploce. A figure of
speech in which several successive clauses have
the same first and last words.
- Synchysis. Word
order confusion within a sentence.
- Syncope. The omission
of letters from the middle of a word, usually
replaced by an apostrophe.
- Synecdoche. A rhetorical
device where one part of an object is used to
represent the whole. e.g., "Get your ass
outa here!" (your ass = your entire self).
Or "There are fifty head of cattle." (Head
is substituting for the whole animal). "Show a
leg!" (naval command to get out of bed
= show yourself)
- Tapinosis. Language
or an epithet that is debasing. This term is synonymous
- Taste. A learned admiration
for things of beauty.
- Tautologia. The
same idea repeated in different words.
- Taxis. The distribution
of a proper adjunct to every subject.
- Techne. Greek for a true
- Terministic screens. term
coined by Kenneth Burke to explain the way in
which the world is viewed when taking languages
and words into consideration.
- Theme. The basic principle
pulled from the Bible in order to create a sermon.
- Thesis. The major claim
or premise made in an argument to be proved or
- Thesmos. Greek. The law
that comes from the authority of kings.
- Tone. The author's voice
in an essay through use of figurative language
or a style of enunciation in writing (also known
as a diction). The way the author expresses himself
out loud or through a character.
- Topical systems. Methods
for finding arguments.
- topographia. The
description of a place.
- topothesia. The
description of an imaginary or non-existent place.
- Topos. A line or
specific style of argument.
- Toulmin Model. A method
of diagraming arguments created by Stephen Toulmin
that identifies such components as backing, claim,
data, qualifier, rebuttal, and warrant.
- Transgression. Reading
a text and looking for the deeper meanings instead
of the obvious ones.
- Translative issue. Dealing
with procedure of an ensueing case.
- Tricolon. The pattern
of three phrases in parallel, found commonly in
Western writing after Cicero. For example, the
kitten had white fur, blue eyes, and a pink tongue.
- Trivium. (Latin)
Grammar, rhetoric, and logic taught in schools
during the medieval period.
- Tropes. Figure of speech
that uses a word aside from its literal meaning.