But fear not! There are easy ways to do things the hard way
Like using a rhetorical device or three!
I’ve gathered some of my favourites on this page, with examples you may be familiar with. You may have even quoted them before.
Deploy these devices to wield words like Shakespeare (or Taylor Swift)
Latin. Addition of a letter.
Starting several syllables in a sentence using the same letter. Simple.
Examples of alliteration
Bright as a button
Cool as a cucumber
Dead as a doornail
Power to the people
Full fathom five thy father lies — The Tempest
Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V — V for Vendetta
Greek. Opposition, or set against.
When a thing is compared to its polar opposite for dramatic effect.
Examples of antithesis
To be or not to be, that is the question — Hamlet
'Cause you're hot then you're cold
You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out
You’re up then you’re down
You’re wrong when it’s right
It’s black and it’s white — Katy Perry
Greek. To be made double.
When you start a line using the last word of the previous line.
Examples of andiaplosis
The love of wicked men converts to fear; that fear to hate, and hate turns one or both, to worthy danger and deserved death — Richard II
Fear leads to anger,
anger leads to hate,
hate leads to suffering — Yoda
Greek. Cut in two.
Repetition of a word, but broken up by a word or two in the middle.
Examples of diacope
To be or not to be — Hamlet
Food, glorious food! — Oliver!
Bond. James Bond. — You know who
Greek. Fastening together.
Repeating something over and over (and over and over and over and over) for extra oomph.
Examples of epizeuxis
Location location location
O horror, horror, horror — Macbeth
Howl! Howl! Howl! Howl! Howl! – King Lear
We are never ever, ever, ever getting back together. Like, ever
'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
Shake it off, I shake it off – Taylor Swift
The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about fight club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You. Don’t. Talk. About. Fight club – Fight Club
Greek. One thing by two.
Take an adjective and turn it into a noun. Voila. Instantly deep, indecipherable verse.
Examples of hendiadys
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune — Hamlet
Full of sound and fury – Macbeth
She walks in beauty, like the night — Byron
Nice and warm
Latin. Transposed or inverted.
Intentionally writing words in the wrong order for poetic effect.
Examples of hyperbaton
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown — Henry IV
One swallow does not a summer make
Off you two f*** – The Thick of It
Literally everything Yoda says
Latin. Divide or partition.
Two (or more) contrasting parts of a whole.
Examples of merism
Hook, line and sinker
From A to Z
Every nook and cranny
From nose to tail
Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes — The Tempest
Latin. The time during which something runs its course.
When you bury the active verb under a whole pile of poetic fluff to build tension.
AKA period, periode, periodos, periodic sentences.
Examples of periodus
The cloud-capp’d towers, The gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, The great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve — The Tempest
Every breath you take, Every move you make, Every bond you break, Every step you take, I’ll be watching you — Sting and The Police
Latin. Many cases.
Using a word’s multiple meanings in one sentence.
Examples of polyptoton
Is this a dagger that I see before me, The handle towards my hand? — Macbeth
Please please me — The Beatles
I dreamed a dream — Les Miserables (and Susan Boyle)
Greek. Three clauses.
The immortal, the eternal, the unbeatable rule of 3s. Three really is the magic number.
Examples of tricolon
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Truth, justice, and the American way
Ready. Set. Go.
Eat, drink and be merry
We few. We happy few. We band of brothers — Henry V
I came. I saw. I conquered — Julius Caesar