Examples of Rhetorical Devices: 25 Techniques to Recognize (2023)

Examples of Rhetorical Devices: 25 Techniques to Recognize (1)

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A rhetorical device uses words in a certain way to convey meaning or persuade readers. It appeals to an audience's emotions, sense of logic or perception of authority. Keep reading for a list of rhetorical devices examples that writers use in their work to achieve specific effects.

What Are Rhetorical Devices?

The concept of rhetoric, which can be defined as the art of persuasive writing or speaking, dates back to ancient Greece with Aristotle's Rhetoric. In addition to being effective argument tools, some types of rhetorical devices can be considered figurative language because they depend on a non-literal usage of certain words or phrases. Take a look at some common and not-so-common rhetorical device examples that can be used to great effect in your writing.


Alliteration refers to the recurrence of initial consonant sounds. The phrase "baby buggy bumpers" is one example of alliteration. Alliteration is often associated with tongue twisters for kids, but brand names commonly use this technique too, such as Best Buy and Krispy Kreme.


Allusion is a reference to an event, place or person. An example of allusion would be "I can’t get changed that quickly, I’m not Superman!” Alluding to something well-known allows the writer to make a point without elaborating in great detail.


Amplification repeats a word or expression for emphasis, often using additional adjectives to clarify the meaning. "Love, real love, takes time" is an example of amplification because the author is using the phrase "real love" to distinguish his feelings from a love that is mere infatuation.



An analogy explains one thing in terms of another to highlight the ways in which they are alike. “He’s as flaky as a snowstorm" would be one example of an analogy. Analogies that are very well known sometimes fall into the categories of idioms or figures of speech.


Anaphora repeats a word or phrase in successive phrases. "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?” is an example of anaphora from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. The use of anaphora creates parallelism and rhythm, which is why this technique is often associated with music and poetry. However, any form of written work can benefit from this rhetorical device.


Anastrophe is a sentence that puts one or two words out of order for effect. Think of the character Yoda from the Star Wars movies, who often speaks in anastrophe (for example, "Judge me by my size, do you?" instead of "Do you judge me by my size?"). Moving more of the sentence around is called hyperbaton.



Antanagoge places a critical statement and a compliment together to lessen the impact. "The car is not pretty, but it runs great" would be one example, because you're referring to the vehicle's good performance as a reason to excuse its unattractive appearance.

Antimetabole repeats words or phrases in reverse order. The famous John F. Kennedy quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country" is a well-known example.


Antiphrasis uses a word with an opposite meaning for ironic or humorous effect. "We named our chihuahua Goliath" is an example because a chihuahua is a very small dog and Goliath is a giant warrior from the famous Bible story.



Antithesis makes a connection between two things. An example of antithesis would be the Neil Armstrong quote, “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." This pairs the idea of one man's individual action with the greater implication for humanity as a whole.


An appositive places a noun or noun phrase next to another noun for descriptive purposes. An example of appositive would be, "Mary, queen of this land, hosted the ball." In the phrase, "queen of this land" is the appositive noun that describes Mary's role.


Enumeratio makes a point with details. For example, saying ”The hotel renovation, including a new spa, tennis court, pool, and lounge, is finally complete" uses specific details to describe how large the renovation was.



Epanalepsis repeats something from the beginning of a clause or sentence at the end. Consider the Walmart slogan as an example of epanalepsis, "Always Low Prices. Always." The repeated words act as bookends, driving the point home.


An epithet is a descriptive word or phrase expressing a quality of the person or thing, such as calling King Richard I “Richard the Lionheart.” Contemporary examples of epithets often denote an abusive or derogatory term describing race, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristics of a minority group.


Epizeuxis repeats one word for emphasis. A child who says, "The amusement park was fun, fun, fun" is using epizeuxis to convey what a wonderful time he had at the park.


Hyperbole refers to an exaggeration. Saying "I have done this a thousand times" to indicate that you're very familiar with a task is an example of hyperbole because it is unlikely you've really performed the task a thousand times.


Litotes make an understatement by using a negative to emphasize a positive. In examples of litotes, a double negative is often used for effect. So saying someone is "not a bad singer" actually means you enjoyed hearing them sing.

Metanoia corrects or qualifies a statement. "You are the most beautiful woman in this town; nay, the entire world" is an example of metanoia because the speaker is further clarifying the extent of the woman's beauty.


A metaphor is a type of implied comparison that compares two things by stating one is the other. An example of a metaphor would be "Your eyes are the windows of your soul," which means you “see" someone's emotional state by looking into their expressive eyes — eyes are not literally windows.


Metonymy is a type of metaphor where something being compared is referred to by something closely associated with it. An example of metonymy would be when writers often refer to the "power of the pen" to convey the idea that the written word can inspire, educate and inform. A pen has no power as an inanimate object, but the writer's words can reach a broad audience.


Onomatopoeia refers to words that imitate the sound they describe. Examples of onomatopoeia are “plunk,” “whiz” or “pop.” This type of figurative language is often used in poetry because it conveys specific images to the reader based on universal experiences. We are all familiar with the “squeal" of tires as a vehicle stops abruptly or the “jingle” of car keys in your pocket.


An oxymoron creates a two-word paradox. "Near miss" or "seriously funny" are examples of oxymorons. An oxymoron is sometimes called a contradiction in terms and is most often used for dramatic effect.


Parallelism uses words or phrases with a similar structure. "Like father, like son" is an example of parallelism in a popular phrase. This technique creates symmetry and balance in your writing.


A simile directly compares one object to another using "like" or "as." "He smokes like a chimney" is one example of a simile. Similes are often confused with metaphors, but metaphors do not use "like" or "as" in their comparisons.


An understatement makes an idea less important than it really is. "The hurricane disrupted traffic a little" would be an example of an understatement because hurricanes cause millions of dollars in damage and can lead to injuries or fatalities.

Be Perfectly Persuasive

Different rhetorical device examples create more interesting or persuasive content. Once you know how to use them effectively, your readers will be more likely to listen to the point you're making. For more practice with rhetorical devices, check out these persuasive writing examples. You can also learn more about convincing an audience with examples of ethos, logos and pathos.


What are rhetorical devices examples? ›

A rhetorical device is a use of language that is intended to have an effect on its audience. Repetition, figurative language, and even rhetorical questions are all examples of rhetorical devices.

Which is the best example of a rhetorical device? ›

Anaphora is the repetition of certain words or phrases at the beginning of sentences to increase the power of a sentiment. Perhaps the best-known example of anaphora is Martin Luther King Jr.'s repetition of the phrase "I have a dream."

What is rhetoric name five rhetorical devices and explain them with example? ›

There are numerous types of rhetoric, and the table shows examples of each rhetorical device.
Types of Rhetoric.
AlliterationRepetition of a initial consonant sounds in successive wordsThe weeping willow's wet branches
4 more rows
Dec 16, 2021

What are the six example of rhetorical? ›

Examples can be quotations, facts, narratives, statistics, details, analogies, opinions, and observations, and examples provide your writing with a firm foundation.

What are the 10 elements of rhetorical situations? ›

Elements of a Rhetorical Situation
  • Writer. The writer (also termed the “rhetor”) is the individual, group, or organization who authors a text. ...
  • Audience. The audience includes the individuals the writer engages with the text. ...
  • Purpose. ...
  • Exigence. ...
  • Subject (or Message) ...
  • Context & Constraints. ...
  • Genre.

What are the five 5 rhetorical situations? ›

The rhetorical situation can be described in five parts: purpose, audience, topic, writer, and context. These parts work together to better describe the circumstances and contexts of a piece of writing, which if understood properly, can help you make smart writing choices in your work.

What is a common rhetorical device? ›


Chiasmus is a rhetorical technique where the speaker changes the order of the words or phrases in a sentence to invoke a sense of powerful emotion. This device works by allowing the listener to have an emotional thought response to what is being said.

What are the three techniques of rhetoric? ›

Aristotle taught that a speaker's ability to persuade an audience is based on how well the speaker appeals to that audience in three different areas: logos, ethos, and pathos. Considered together, these appeals form what later rhetoricians have called the rhetorical triangle.

What are the 9 rhetorical strategies? ›

Nine rhetorical strategies are generally recognized: Narration, description, comparison, example, illustration, definition, process, causal analysis and argument. Most writing will use a variety of strategies in a single essay.

What are rhetorical techniques essay? ›

Revised on December 5, 2022. A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience.

What are the 4 rhetorical choices? ›

Rhetorical appeals are the qualities of an argument that make it truly persuasive. To make a convincing argument, a writer appeals to a reader in several ways. The four different types of persuasive appeals are logos, ethos, pathos, and kairos.

What are the 7 rhetorical mode of writing? ›

Oftentimes, exposition is subdivided into other modes: classification, evaluation, process, definition, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect.

What are the 8 rhetorical modes? ›

  • Illustration.
  • Description.
  • Narration.
  • Definition.
  • Comparison/Contrast.
  • Cause/Effect.
  • Division/Classification.
  • Argumentation.

What is a rhetorical sentence example? ›

A rhetorical question is one that is asked in order to make a statement rather than to get an answer. He grimaced slightly, obviously expecting no answer to his rhetorical question. "Do these kids know how lucky they are?" Jackson asked rhetorically.

What are the 9 common rhetorical patterns of text structures? ›

Rhetorical Patterns
  • Mechanism Description.
  • Process Description.
  • Classification.
  • Partition.
  • Definition.
  • Comparison/Contrast.
  • Ascending/ Descending Order.
  • Situation-problem-solution-evaluation.

How many rhetorical devices are there? ›

There are three different rhetorical appeals—or methods of argument—that you can take to persuade an audience: logos, ethos, and pathos.

What is an example of a rhetorical question Truth uses? ›

We use rhetorical questions in conversation every day: "Who knows?" and "Why not?" are two common examples. Rhetorical questions are also used in literature, usually to emphasize a particular idea or persuade the audience of a point.

Is exaggeration a rhetorical device? ›

hyperbolic /ˌhaɪpərˈbɒlɪk/ ( listen)) is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. In rhetoric, it is also sometimes known as auxesis (literally 'growth'). In poetry and oratory, it emphasizes, evokes strong feelings, and creates strong impressions.

What are techniques for ethos? ›

Ethos | building trust & credibility

Using testimonials that speak to your character, citing awards or qualifications, and changing language to colloquial terms used extensively by the audience you're engaging are all common traits of ethos techniques.

What are the 6 characteristics of rhetoric? ›

Rhetorical discourse characteristically is (1) planned, (2) adapted to an audience, (3) shaped by human motives, (4) responsive to a situation, (5) persuasion-seeking, and (6) concerned with contingent issues.

What is ethos pathos and logos examples? ›

Logos appeals to the audience's reason, building up logical arguments. Ethos appeals to the speaker's status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Why are rhetorical techniques used? ›

Rhetorical devices are used to trigger emotional responses in an audience and persuade the readers or the listeners. The scope of rhetorical devices is broad. Even though the primary purpose is persuading your audience, these devices are also used as aesthetic devices in writing.

What are the 5 main parts of rhetoric public speaking? ›

In De Inventione, he Roman philosopher Cicero explains that there are five canons, or tenets, of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery.

Is a simile a rhetorical device? ›

Two of the most common rhetorical devices are metaphors and similes. These are both means of comparison. A metaphor compares two things by saying they are the same, while a simile uses the words “like” or “as.”

Is imagery a rhetorical device? ›

One of the most important rhetorical devices that an author can use is that of diction, and with diction, imagery and vivid descriptions are very closely tied. A combination of these rhetorical figures can result in a very eloquent and well written piece that leaves the reader with a lasting impression of the work.

What are the 4 types of rhetorical? ›

The four rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, ethos, and kairos.
  • Logos - appeals to logic.
  • Pathos - appeals to emotion.
  • Ethos - appeals to ethics.
  • Kairos - appeals to time/timeliness of an argument.

What is rhetorical device? ›

A rhetorical device (otherwise known as a stylistic device, a persuasive device or more simply, rhetoric) is a technique or type of language that is used by a speaker or an author for the purpose of evoking a particular reaction from the listener or reader or persuading them to think in a certain way.

What are the 3 types of rhetoric? ›

Aristotle taught that a speaker's ability to persuade an audience is based on how well the speaker appeals to that audience in three different areas: logos, ethos, and pathos. Considered together, these appeals form what later rhetoricians have called the rhetorical triangle.

What are the 7 components of the rhetorical situation? ›

The rhetorical situation identifies the relationship among the elements of any communication--audience, author (rhetor), purpose, medium, context, and content.
  • Audience. ...
  • Author/Rhetor/Speaker/Writer. ...
  • Purpose of the Author. ...
  • Medium. ...
  • Claim. ...
  • Support. ...
  • Warrant. ...
  • Ethos.

How is imagery a rhetorical device? ›

Imagery is a literary device used in poetry, novels, and other writing that uses vivid description that appeals to a readers' senses to create an image or idea in their head. Through language, imagery does not only paint a picture, but aims to portray the sensational and emotional experience within text.

How is imagery used as a rhetorical device? ›

Imagery is used to enhance the vividness of writing and to "paint a picture" for the reader. A writer who uses imagery well can appeals to the reader's imagination by linking words with sensory experiences.

What are the 5 rhetorical situations? ›

The rhetorical situation can be described in five parts: purpose, audience, topic, writer, and context. These parts work together to better describe the circumstances and contexts of a piece of writing, which if understood properly, can help you make smart writing choices in your work.

What are the 3 rhetorical situations? ›

The rhetorical situation has three components: the context, the audience, and the purpose of the speech.

What is example of ethos? ›

Ethos refers to authority and credibility. It highlights the credibility and trustworthiness of your argument that can help you persuade your audience to buy your product or service. Example: As a three-time Olympic gold medalist, I can assure you that this energy drink will improve your fitness and stamina.


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