Figure of Speech – Definition and Types with Examples

Figure of speech in English is a language that helps to frame sentences in a real prose style, something that sounds lyrical and fresh in quantity. Languages can be portrayed in two different ways. It is literally and figuratively. 

figure of speech

Literal English Language: It is more direct and mostly uses the real definition and meaning of words or phrases. 

Figurative English Language: In such type, the meaning of the words and phrases used depends on the context in which they are applied. 

Note: In the English language, the figure of speech relies on figurative language.

While you are making use of the figure of speech, you would notice that the words diverge from their literal meaning. It has given a more stylized and specific meaning to the words. For instance, if you see the phrase “fast like lightning’, then it is symbolizing something that has great speed. 

What is a Figure Of Speech?

Basically, in English grammar, a figure of speech is a word or a phrase that is used in the figurative form. A language that has some meaning apart from its normal definition. It is dependent on the contextual meaning and not on the dictionary meaning. It is developed and expressed by various rhetorical techniques. It also makes the language more graphic, pointed, and vivid.

With the figure of speech, you can land yourself in the world of literature and poetry. These are the tools that are found in every part and corner of your life. 

8 Types of Figure of Speech

Here, we would be discussing 8 different types of Figure Of Speech. Let’s explore each one of them.

1. Alliteration: 

It is basically the repetition of the beginning of the sounds and neighboring words. 

Examples include:

  • She sells seashells.
  • Walter wondered where Winnie was.
  • Blue baby bonnets bobbed through the bayou.

2. Anaphora

In this technique, where several phrases and verses that aim to begin with similar words. 

Examples include:

  • I came, I saw, I conquered. – Julius Caesar
  • Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition! 
  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. 

3. Assonance

You would find a repetition of the vowel sound in words and that are close together. The most important thing is, it does not have to be at the beginning of the words. 

Examples include:

  • A – For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore. (Poe)
  • E – Therefore, all seasons shall be sweet to thee. (Coleridge)
  • I – From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. (Frost)

4. Euphemism

In this technique, you would observe something which is a very mild, indirect, or vague term that often substitutes a harsh, blunt, or offensive term.

Examples include:

  • ‘A little thin on top’. It means you might wish to say ‘going bald.’
  • ‘Fell off the back of a truck’. Now this means that it is ‘stolen.’

5. Hyperbole

In this category of the figure of speech, the sentences use exaggeration for emphasis or effect.

Examples include:

  • She’s older than dirt.
  • Everybody knows that.

6. Irony

This is most commonly used in novels and storybooks. The irony is used to show the contrast between what is being said and what is meant. 

Examples include:

  • “How nice!” she said when I told her I had to work all weekend. 
  • You might have heard that a traffic cop gets suspended for not paying his parking tickets. (This is the irony)
  • Did you know that the Titanic was said to be unsinkable but sank on its first voyage? 

7. Metaphor

In a metaphor, you usually make a comparison between two, unlike things or ideas.

Examples include:

  • Heart of stone
  • Time is money
  • She’s a night owl

8. Simile

A simile is also a comparison between two, unlike things. You must not get confused with simile and metaphor. In a simile, you would be using the word “like” and “as” to show the comparison.

Examples include:

  • As slippery as an eel
  • Like peas in a pod
  • As blind as a bat


By now, you might be aware that the figure of speech is used to embellish the language. In addition to that, you can observe that not cause the moment of excitement while reading. The different types of figures of speech are used in writing as well as speaking. It more or less emphasis clarity of the sentences which brings freshness to the expressions. Sometimes the sentences also have a double meaning – Connotative & Denotative. But it will always strengthen the creativity of the expression and make it more descriptive. 

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