Figures of Speech - A sneak view


  • VARC Mentor | MDI, Gurgaon (2012 – 2014)


    Figure of Speech: A figure of speech is the use of a word or a phrase, which transcends its literal interpretation.

    I have seen a lot of people getting confused between figure of speech and parts of speech. Let’s understand that parts of speech are the typical grammar classification of what are commonly known as “Noun”, “Verbs” etc. I shall try to take a few figures of speech below and explain them with examples. Please understand that the examples taken below are just for clarity purpose and not to be taken literally.

    1)  Irony : In layman terms, Irony is something that goes against what was expected.

    We understand it like this: Assuming, I enter into a class and introduce myself as an engineering graduate. Now in a typical classroom ambiance, students would expect me to teach them maths whereas I turn towards the board and write grammar and start teaching them English. This went against the students’ expectations that I would be teaching them Maths.

    2) Oxymoron : An oxymoron is a juxtaposition of contradictory words put together. Confusing. Let’s take two examples

    a)  Happily Married: Either you would be happy or you would be married. You can’t stay both at the same time.

    b) Happy Engineer’s day: An Engineer to be a happy person will require an altogether different world… :)

    On a serious note a beautiful example of an oxymoron can be “Deafening silence”… :)

    3)  Euphemism : Remember a typical Dialogue in a typical Bollywood movie:

    “Inhe dawaon ki nahi, duaon ki jarurat hai” and then the relatives start banging themselves on the walls of temples, mosques, churches and where not (Yes, I tried to be secular here). Anyways, what it means subtly is that the patient is about to die and the doctors did not say it clearly (I am leaving the typical Bollywood miracle here)...that becomes an euphemism.

    Another example could be to say “He passed away” in place of saying “he died”... :)

    Euphemism, thus, means using subtle words or words which are not profane, to convey the same idea.

    4)  Hyperbole:

    A lover to his girlfriend: Mai tere liye chaand tare tod ke la sakta hu.

    Girlfriend: To leke aa

    And the boyfriend gets dumbstruck. 

    This becomes a typical example of a hyperbole. Probably, the guy never meant to get “stars” for his girlfriend, and he was caught off-guard. He only tried to impress her and show the intensity of love for her, but in vain.

    A hyperbole is an undue exaggeration of things and is often used in poetries..:)

    A typical example could be "The bag weighed a ton."

     I’ll reiterate that the above examples are just for learning process …after-all you are not dropping your idea of marrying because I quoted it as an oxymoron… :)


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