Figures of Speech in English Language



Figures of Speech in English Language


Figures of speech in English Language are words or phrases defined as  literary devices used to enhance the quality of language, written or spoken. Generally, these figures of speech are used in the language to give a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words. In English language, there are a host of these literary tools but we find here the most important and common figures of speech.

Here is a list of the most important and common Figures of Speech in English Language



This describes the repetition of consonant sounds in the beginning of the neighbouring words or, sometimes, at a stressed syllable within a word.


  • She sells sea shells by the seashore. (repetition of ‘s’ sound)
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. (repetition of ‘p’ sound)
  • When wasteful War. (repetition of ‘w’ sound)
  • The furrow followed free. (repetition of ‘f’ sound)
  • Unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time. (repetition of ‘s’ and ‘t’  sounds)
  • Neither stones nor prayers, nor sticks. (repetition of ‘n’, ‘s’ sounds)

More examples:

  • Nick’s nephew needed some new notebooks.
  • Peter’s piglet pranced priggishly.
  • Quincy’s quilters quit quilting quickly.
  • Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer rose rapidly into the air.
  • Seven sisters slept soundly on the sand.
  • Tim took tons of tools to make toys for the tots.
  • The lone and level sands stretch far away
  • Survive, stamped on
  • Down dropped the breeze

The sails dropped down

Boundless and base

Examples with the names and phrases:

  • Peter Parker
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • Sammy Sosa
  • William Wordsworth


  • Busy as a bee
  • Dead as a doornail
  • Get your goat
  • Give up the ghost
  • Good as gold
  • Home sweet home
  • Last laugh
  • Leave in the lurch


An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a direct or indirect reference to people, places, events, literary works, myths and work of art.


  • In the poem ‘The Frog And The Nightingale’, the poet gives the reference of the famous musician, Mozart.
  • In the poem ‘Snake’, the poet gives the reference to the albatross in the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’.
  • “Don’t act like a Romeo in front of her.” – “Romeo” is a reference to Shakespeare’s Romeo, a passionate lover of Juliet, in “Romeo and Juliet”.



Antithesis is a figure of speech which tells us about two opposing or contrasting ideas put together in a sentence.


  • Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.
  • Man proposes, God disposes.
  • To err is human, to forgive divine.
  • Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.
  • Speech is silver, but silence is gold.
  • Many are called, but few are chosen.
  • Money is the root of all evil: poverty is the fruit of all goodness.
  • You are easy on the eyes, but hard on the heart.



A euphemism is a literary device used to replace harsh, blunt or unpleasant words or expressions with polite or pleasant expressions.


instead of died

  • Passed away
  • Bit the dust
  • Croaked
  • Bought the farm
  • Going to the other side
  • Dearly departed
  • Bite the big one
  • Kicked the bucket (for bad people)


  • Put to sleep (instead of euthanize)
  • Pregnancy termination (instead of abortion)
  • Whacked instead of killed
  • Wearing cement shoes instead of killed
  • On the streets (instead of homeless)
  • Adult entertainment (instead of pornography)
  • Comfort woman (instead of prostitute)
  • Between jobs (instead of unemployed)


Hyperbole is a figure of speech used to exaggerate a point extremely or to show emphasis. It is generally used for humour and may not be taken literally.


  • He will die if she asks him to dance.
  • My friend is as big as an elephant!
  • They have told you a million times not to do such things
  • The bag weighed a ton.
  • She was so hungry; she could eat a horse!
  • She is older than the hills.



Irony is the figure of speech in which words are used to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. It is the difference between how things seem to be and the reality. There are three types of irony: verbal, dramatic and situational.

Verbal Irony

Verbal Irony involves when a speaker says one thing, but means another. It  is a contrast between what is said and what is meant.

 Example:  When you say, “What a great idea!” for a foolish idea

Situational Irony

The actual happening is opposite to what a character expects.

            Example: Bill Gates winning a computer

Dramatic Irony

The writer creates a character that will act or speak as his mouthpiece and would be directly contrasting with the truth. (Based on miscommunication and misunderstanding.)

          Example: In Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, when Juliet is drugged, Romeo assumes her to be dead,                                      and kills himself. Upon waking up Juliet finds him dead, and kills herself.

Some common examples:

  • Two identical twins fight each other and one of them says that: “You are ugly”
  • The name of Britain’s biggest dog was “Tiny.”
  • Oh great! Now you have damaged my bike.
  • He is as kind-hearted as a wolf.
  • Your hand was as soft as a rock.
  • The student was given ‘excellent’ on getting zero in the exam.
  • She parked her vehicle right in front of the no-parking sign.
  • The CEO of a big tobacco company said he did not smoke.
  • The thieves robbed the police station.



The word metaphor is derived from the Greek language meaning “transfer”. It is a literary device that compares two or more different things or ideas without using the words ‘like or as’.  It is an advanced Simile.


  • War is the mother of all battles.
  • Her dance is a great poem.
  • Laughter is the best medicine.
  • Words are daggers when spoken in anger.
  • His words are pearls of wisdom.

(In William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2/7)

  • All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;



Onomatopoeia is the representation of a sound by an imitation. Poets often convey the meaning of a verse through its very sound.

The word ‘onomatopoeia’ comes from the combination of two Greek words, onoma and poiein which mean “name” and “to make,” respectively. It literally means to make a name (or sound).

Onomatopoeia words may be nouns as well as verbs. For example, ‘slap may be the sound (noun) or it may be an action (verb).


  • It cracked and growled, it roared and (The Rime of the Ancient Marine)
  • The gushing stream flows in the forest.
  • The buzzing bee flew away.
  • The sack fell into the river with a splash.
  • The books fell on the table with a loud
  • The rustling leaves kept me awake.



Oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two contradictory ideas or words are put together. Basically, it is used to focus on the apparent contradictions and adds smoothness and crispness to the style of writing.


  • Clearly confused
  • Pretty ugly
  • Deafening silence
  • Living dead
  • Only choice
  • Small crowd
  • Run slowly
  • Open secret
  • Short wait
  • Quiet presence
  • True myth

Some sentences by famous people using Oxymorons:

  • A joke is actually an extremely serious issue. – Winston Churchill
  • I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible. – Oscar Wilde
  • A business that makes nothing but money, is poor business. – Honey Ford



Personification is a figure of speech in which non-human or inanimate objects are described in such a way that they have the ability to act like human beings.


  • Out of the sea came he. (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

(Here, the sun is personified as man.)

  • He struck with his overtaking wing (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

(Here, the storm is personified as a man.)

  • I am important to her (Mirror) 

(Here, Mirror has been assumed to be a person.)

  • The flowers waltzed in the gentle breeze.
  • The window panes were talking as the rain drops fell on them.
  • The popcorn jumped out of the packet.
  • The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky.
  • The thunder grumbled like an old man.
  • The ocean danced in the moonlight.



A pun makes a play on words. It is also called paronomasia. It uses words that have several meanings or words that sound similar but have different meanings. Pun may be used to create a comic, serious or ironic effect.

Perhaps no other writer is better known for pun than William Shakespeare.


  • “Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead” (Romeo and Juliet).
  • A one point, Romeo asks for a torch, saying, “being heavy (sad), I will bear the light.”
  • An elephant’s opinion carries a lot of weight.
  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana



Repetition is a figure of speech in which the same words or phrases are repeated a few times and stress on some topics, words, etc., In repetition, single words, phrases, lines and sometimes, even whole stanzas are repeated to create a musical effect and also to make an idea clearer and more memorable.


In the poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’

  • The repetition of the ‘glittering eye’ or ‘bright eye’ stressed on the hypnotic looks of the Ancient Mariner.
  • ‘Water water everywhere’ is repeated to emphasize on the fact that although water is available but there is not a drop of water to drink.
  • ‘Day after day, day after day’ is repeated to convey the duration of time as the ship got stuck in the ocean.



Simile is a figure of speech which is used to compare the similarities between two different things.  In Simile we use the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.


  • My friend fights like a Bruce Lee.
  • She swims as fast as a fish.
  • Our soldiers are as brave as lions.
  • Her cheeks have become red like a rose.
  • This old man is as funny as a monkey.
  • This fellow is as cunning as a fox.


  • As idle as a painted ship (line 117). (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)
  • He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do. (In the poem Snake)
  • I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills. (Daffodils)
Simile Metaphor
Comparison is made with words  ‘like’ or its equivalent.


  • The girl looks like a rose.
  • He eats like a Bhima.
  • He fights like a Bruce Lee.
  • He is as cunning as a fox.
  • Our soldiers are as brave as lions.
 No use of the words ‘like’ or its equivalent


  • The girl is a pretty rose.
  • He is a Bhima. (in eating)
  • He is a Bruce Lee. (in fighting)
  • He is a fox and does all cunning things.
  • Our soldiers are lions.



The word Synecdoche is derived from the Greek meaning “shared understanding”.  It is a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole and sometimes, the whole is used to signify a part.

For example: England lost by three wickets

Different forms of synecdoche:

A Part to Represent a Whole

  • The phrase “hired hands” refer to workers.
  • The word “head” refers to counting cattle or people.
  • The word “bread” refers to food in general or money

A Whole to Represent a Part 

  • The word “society” refers to a specific sector of society.
  • The word “police” refer to one or several officers.

A Specific Class to Represent a Whole

  • The term “coke” generally refers to all carbonated drinks.

Material Representing an Object

  • The word “plastic” commonly refer to credit cards.
  • The word “woods” sometimes refer to a forest-like setting.



The word tautology is derived from the Greek words ‘tauto’, and ‘logos’ which means ‘same’, and ‘word or idea.’ respectively. Tautology is a statement which refers to the same sense in different words. It is a superfluous repetition to give an impression that the writer is providing extra information.


  • You can observe a lot by watching.
  • I am my father’s son.
  • Forward planning.
  • It’s a free gift.
  • The mobile phone is a new innovation.
  • In my point of view, it is completely useless.
  • These are necessary essentials.
  • My In my opinion, I think…,
  • The students gathered in a round circle.




Post Author: CHALLA

17 thoughts on “Figures of Speech in English Language

    fila shoes

    (6th April 2020 - 1:35 am)

    I want to point out my affection for your kind-heartedness for those individuals that actually need help with this one content. Your personal dedication to getting the solution all around had become particularly useful and has in every case enabled most people like me to get to their pursuits. The insightful hints and tips denotes a whole lot to me and a whole lot more to my fellow workers. Thank you; from each one of us.

    ferragamo belt

    (8th April 2020 - 3:59 am)

    I and my friends ended up studying the nice pointers found on your website while immediately came up with an awful suspicion I had not expressed respect to you for those secrets. My people came as a result very interested to read all of them and already have truly been tapping into those things. I appreciate you for actually being simply helpful as well as for settling on some fantastic subjects most people are really desperate to be informed on. Our honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

    michael kors outlet

    (10th April 2020 - 5:20 am)

    I definitely wanted to write a small remark to say thanks to you for these unique facts you are posting at this website. My prolonged internet look up has at the end been honored with reasonable concept to go over with my best friends. I would admit that most of us site visitors actually are very much lucky to exist in a perfect community with very many wonderful people with valuable basics. I feel very blessed to have encountered your entire web site and look forward to tons of more awesome minutes reading here. Thanks again for all the details.

    yeezy boost 350 v2

    (12th April 2020 - 11:47 am)

    I simply wished to appreciate you once more. I do not know the things that I would have worked on in the absence of the type of basics provided by you over such theme. It absolutely was a very scary case for me personally, but viewing a new skilled way you managed the issue made me to cry for gladness. Now i’m thankful for this guidance and even wish you know what an amazing job that you’re providing teaching many others thru a blog. More than likely you haven’t encountered all of us.


    (16th April 2020 - 8:53 pm)

    I must show my passion for your generosity supporting those individuals that should have help on this one study. Your very own commitment to getting the message all over has been definitely invaluable and have always empowered women just like me to achieve their endeavors. Your amazing warm and friendly publication signifies a lot a person like me and still more to my office colleagues. Warm regards; from all of us.


    (18th April 2020 - 10:24 pm)

    I am commenting to make you know of the extraordinary experience my wife’s daughter found using your webblog. She noticed some details, including what it is like to have a marvelous giving heart to get men and women just have an understanding of several problematic issues. You actually did more than readers’ expectations. Many thanks for delivering those practical, trusted, educational and also unique tips on the topic to Lizeth.

    retro jordans

    (23rd April 2020 - 12:50 am)

    I would like to show appreciation to this writer just for rescuing me from this type of predicament. After searching throughout the world-wide-web and obtaining basics which were not pleasant, I figured my life was done. Being alive minus the strategies to the problems you’ve fixed all through your main post is a serious case, and the kind that would have in a wrong way affected my entire career if I had not encountered your blog post. Your good ability and kindness in controlling a lot of things was excellent. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come across such a subject like this. I’m able to now look forward to my future. Thanks for your time very much for this professional and results-oriented help. I will not hesitate to suggest the website to any individual who wants and needs guide about this topic.

    yeezy shoes

    (25th April 2020 - 12:23 am)

    I wish to show appreciation to the writer just for rescuing me from this particular predicament. Just after searching through the world-wide-web and seeing proposals that were not helpful, I believed my life was gone. Living minus the answers to the problems you have solved all through the short post is a crucial case, as well as the ones that would have in a negative way affected my career if I hadn’t noticed the blog. Your ability and kindness in handling every aspect was tremendous. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come upon such a solution like this. I am able to at this point relish my future. Thanks a lot very much for this reliable and result oriented help. I will not think twice to refer your web site to any individual who needs to have direction on this subject.

    nike kd 12

    (27th April 2020 - 2:15 am)

    I have to show my affection for your kindness for men and women who really want help with the issue. Your real commitment to getting the solution all around appears to be exceptionally interesting and has surely enabled girls just like me to get to their ambitions. This informative hints and tips signifies a lot a person like me and somewhat more to my office colleagues. Regards; from everyone of us.

    chrome hearts online store

    (29th April 2020 - 12:29 am)

    I am commenting to make you know of the cool experience our girl gained reading through yuor web blog. She even learned a lot of pieces, including how it is like to have an amazing teaching nature to get folks very easily know precisely various hard to do topics. You truly exceeded my expectations. I appreciate you for showing these interesting, dependable, educational as well as unique guidance on that topic to Jane.

    curry 7 shoes

    (1st May 2020 - 3:19 am)

    I wish to show my thanks to the writer for rescuing me from such a dilemma. As a result of surfing throughout the online world and obtaining techniques that were not pleasant, I was thinking my life was gone. Being alive without the presence of strategies to the issues you’ve resolved through your main short article is a critical case, as well as the ones that could have in a negative way damaged my entire career if I had not noticed your web page. Your own talents and kindness in controlling all the details was important. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not come upon such a step like this. It’s possible to at this point relish my future. Thanks very much for this skilled and amazing help. I will not be reluctant to endorse your site to anyone who needs and wants guidance about this situation.

    curry 6

    (4th May 2020 - 4:57 am)

    I together with my friends were found to be looking through the excellent helpful hints on your web page and so unexpectedly developed a horrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the site owner for those techniques. Those young boys are already totally excited to learn all of them and now have seriously been enjoying those things. I appreciate you for really being well thoughtful as well as for deciding upon this sort of incredible issues millions of individuals are really wanting to be aware of. Our own sincere apologies for not saying thanks to you sooner.

    balenciaga speed

    (7th May 2020 - 1:44 am)

    I precisely had to thank you so much again. I am not sure the things I would’ve used without the actual smart ideas documented by you about that area. Certainly was the frightening dilemma for me, but encountering your expert way you treated that took me to weep over gladness. Extremely happy for your help and thus wish you really know what an amazing job you’re accomplishing teaching others all through your web page. Most likely you have never got to know all of us.

    Royal CBD

    (14th May 2020 - 4:43 am)

    Heya i’m for the primary time here. I found this board
    and I in finding It really useful & it helped me out much.
    I’m hoping to give something again and aid others like you helped me.


    (21st May 2020 - 5:55 am)

    Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.