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Legal Language:- FIGURE OF SPEECH

Updated: Sep 4, 2022


A Figure of Speech is different from the ordinary form of expression, or the ordinary course of idea in order to produce a greater effect.

Figures of Speech may be classified as under:

(a) Those based on Resemblances, such as Simile, Metaphor, Personification and Apostrophe.

(b) Those based on Contrast, such as Antithesis and Epigram.

(c) Those based on such as Association, Metonymy and Synecdoche.

(d) Those depending on Construction, such as Climax and Anticlimax.


In a Simile a comparison is made between two objects of different kinds which have however at least one point in common. The Simile is usually introduced by such words as like, as or so.


1) The righteous shall flourish as the palm tree,

2) They speak like saints and act like devils.

3) How far that little candle throws his beams!

4) So shines a good deed in a naughty world

5) Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale

6) Cusses are like chickens they come home to roost

7). Mad as a March Hare; as proud as a peacock; as bold as brass; as tough as leather; as clear as crystal; as good as gold ; as old as the hills; as cool as a cucumber.

8) Richard fought like a lion

9) The waves broke on the shore with a noise like thunder

10) Words are like leaves and where they most abound much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found

11) Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart

12) A thousand years are as yesterday when it is past



A Metaphor is an implied Simile. It does not, (like the Simile.) state that one thing is like another or acts as another, but takes that for granted and proceeds as if the two things were one. Thus, when we say, 'He fought like a lion' we use a Simile, but when we say, 'He was a lion in the fight', we use a Metaphor.


1) The camel is the ship of the desert.

2) Life is a dream.

3) The news was a dagger to his heart.

4) Revenge is a kind of wild justice.


In Personification in animate objects and abstract notions are spoken of as having life and intelligence.


1) Laughter holding both her sides. The cup that cheers but not inebriates,

2) Death lays his icy hand on kings. Oh what a noble mind is here overthrown.



An Apostrophe is a direct address to the dead, to the absent, or to a personified object or idea. This figure is a special form of Personification.


1. Friend ! I know not which way I must look for comfort.

2. Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean-roll!

3. death I where is thy sting ?O grave ! where is thy victory ?

4. liberty, what crimes have been committed in thy name ?



In Hyperbole a statement is made emphatic by overstatement.


1) Why, man, if the river were dry, I am able to fill it with tears.

2) Loved Ophelia; forty thousand brothers Could not with all their quantity of love Make up the sum.



Euphemism consists in the description of a disagreeable thing by an agreeable name.


1. He has failed asleep (i.e. he is dead).

2. You are telling me a fairy tale (i.e. a lie).



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


1) Man propose, God disposes. There is no one so poor, a wealthy miser

2) Not that 1 loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.

3) Give every man thy ear, but few the voice.

4) Speech is silver, but silence is golden

5) To err is human, to forgive divine.

6) Many are called, but-few are chosen.



Oxymoron is a special form of Antithesis, whereby two contradictory qualities are predicted at once of the same thing.


1) So innocent arch, so cunningly simple.

2) She accepted it as the kind cruelty of the surgeon's knife.


An Epigram is a brief pointed saying frequently introducing antithetical ideas which excite surprise and arrest attention.


1) The child is father of the man.

2) A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

3) Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

4) In the midst of the life we are in death.

5) Art lies in concealing art.

6) He makes no friend, who never made a foe.

7) Who never said a foolish thing And never did a wise one.


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


1) No doubt but you are the people, and wisdom shall die with you. Pun A Pun consists in the use of a word in such a way that it js capable of more than one application, the object being to produce a ludicrous effect. Examples: Is life worth living ? - It depends upon the liver. An ambassador is an honest man who ties abroad for the good of his country. 1) 2)


In Metonymy (literally, a change of name) an object is designated by the name of something which is generally associated with it. Some familiar examples :

1) The Bench, for the judges.

2) The House, for the members of the House of Commons.

3) The Crown, for the king.

4) You must address the chair (i.e., the chairman).

5) From the cradle to the grave (i.e., from infancy to death).

6) The whole city went out to see the victorious general.

7) Forthwith he drank the fatal cup.

8) The pen is mightier than the sword, The author for his works ; as, we are reading Milton.


In Synecdoche a part is used to designate the whole or the whole to designate a part.

1) A part used to designate the whole ; as, Give us this day our daily bread (i.e., food), A fleet of fifty sail (i.e., ships) left the harbour.At the best brains in Europe could not solve the problem. He has many mouths to feed. The whole used to designate a part; as,

2) England (i.e., the English Cricket eleven) won the first test match against Australia. Transferred Epithet In this figure an epithet (descriptive word) is transferred from its proper word to another that is closely associated with the sentence. Examples He passed a sleepless night.

1) 2) The ploughman homeward plods in his weary way. Litotes In Litotes an affirmative is conveyed by negation of the opposite, the effect being to suggest a strong expression by means of a weaker. It is the opposite of Hyperbole.


1) I am a citizen of no mean (= a very celebrated) city.

2) The man is no fool (= very clever).

3) I am not a little (= greatly) surprised. Interrogation Interrogation is the asking of a question not for the sake of getting an answer, but to put a point more effectively. This figure of speech is also known as Rhetorical Question because a question is asked not for information but to produce effect.

Examples :

1. Am I brother's keeper ?

2. Must I stand and crouch under your testy humour ?

3. Who is here so vile that will not love his country ?

4. How far that little candle throws his beams? Exclamation In this figure the exclamatory form is used to draw greater attention to a point than a mere bald statement of it could do.


1) What a piece of work is man !

2) How sweet the moonlight upon this bank !

3) O what a fall was there, my country men !

4) Climax Climax (Gk. Klimax = a ladder) is the arrangement of a series of ideas in the order of increasing importance.


1) Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime.

2) What a piece of work is man I How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties I In action, how like an angle ! In apprehension, how like a god 1 Anticlimax Anticlimax is the opposite of Climax - a sudden descent from higher to lower. It is chiefly sed for the purpose of satire or ridicule,


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