Figures of Speech – Part III

In antithesis, a striking contrast of words or sentiments is expressed in the same sentence. It is employed to secure emphasis.

Examples are given below:

  • Man proposes, God disposes.
  • Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.


Oxymoron is a special form of antithesis. Here two contradictory qualities of the same thing are predicted at once.

  • So innocent arch, so cunningly simple.
  • She accepted it as the kind cruelty of the surgeon’s knife.


An epigram is a brief pointed saying. It is used to introduce ideas which invoke surprise.

  • The child is the father of the man.
  • Fools rush in angels fear to tread.

Here lies our Sovereign Lord the King
Whose word no man relies on,
Who never said a foolish thing
And never did a wise one.

  • Art lies in concealing art.


Irony is a mode of speech in which the real meaning is exactly the opposite of that which is literally conveyed.

Here under leave of Brutus and the rest
(For Brutus is an honorable man:
So are they all, all honorable men)
Come I speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious’
And Brutus is an honorable man.


A pun is employed to produce a ludicrous effect. It consists in the use of a word in such a way that it is capable of more than one application.

  • An ambassador is an honest man who lies abroad for the good of his country.
  • Is life worth living? – It depends upon the liver?