Brad's guide to English I don't understand

anachronism In the current context, it is out of place, peculiar, incomprehensible or impossible. Examples: Mel Brooks' 1974 film Blazing Saddles, set in the Wild West in 1874, contains many blatant anachronisms from the 1970s, including a stylish Gucci costume for the sheriff, an automobile, a scene at Grauman's Chinese Theater, and frequent references to Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000).

analogy an inference that if things agree in some respects they probably agree in others, Example: "Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo."
(Don Marquis)

antithesis A figure of speech in which words and phrases with opposite meanings are balanced against each other. An example of antithesis is “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” (Alexander Pope) (

conundrum 1: a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun2 a: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer b: an intricate and difficult problem. Webster

enigma mystery: something that baffles understanding and cannot be explained; "how it got out is a mystery"; "it remains one of nature's secrets"

hyperbole hye-PER-buh-lee a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated. Examples from Wikipedia these books weigh a ton. (meaning they "weigh a great deal") I could sleep for a year. (meaning "for a long time")

idom An idiom is a phrase which has a different meaning from the meaning of its separate parts. For example, "to burn the candle at both ends" means to exhaust yourself by doing too much. At first, that might not make sense, but think about it. If you lit a candle at both ends, it would burn out twice as fast. If you do too much, you could burn out too.

litotes A figure of speech in which a positive is stated by negating its opposite. Some examples of litotes: no small victory, not a bad idea, not unhappy. Litotes is the opposite of hyperbole.

Metaphor A figure of speech in which two things are compared, usually by saying one thing is another, or by substituting a more descriptive word for the more common or usual word that would be expected. Some examples of metaphors: the world's a stage, he was a lion in battle, drowning in debt, and a sea of troubles.

metonymy A figure of speech in which one word is substituted for another with which it is closely associated. For example, in the expression The pen is mightier than the sword, the word pen is used for “the written word,” and sword is used for “military power.”

onomatopoeia A figure of speech in which words are used to imitate sounds. Examples of onomatopoeic words are buzz, hiss, zing, clippety-clop, and tick-tock.


Trope In linguistics, trope is a rhetorical figure of speech that consists of a play on words, i.e., using a word in a way other than what is considered its literal or normal form.(Wikipedia) Metaphor, simile and allegory are all tropes , A figure of speech, such as metaphor or metonymy, in which words are not used in their literal (or actual) sense but in a figurative

Simile A figure of speech in which two things are compared using the word “like” or “as.” An example of a simile using like occurs in Langston Hughes's poem “Harlem”: “What happens to a dream deferred?/ Does it dry up/ like a raisin in the sun?”



synecdoche A figure of speech in which a part is used to designate the whole or the whole is used to designate a part. For example, the phrase “all hands on deck” means “all men on deck,” not just their hands.