Epithet. Oxymoron. Interjection.

Businka_Z 2012 M03 18

Epithet a rhetorical term for an adjective (or adjective phrase) used to characterize a person or thing. Adjective: epithetic. A Homeric epithet (also known as fixed or epic) is a formulaic phrase...

Epithet a rhetorical term for an adjective (or adjective phrase) used to characterize a person or thing. Adjective: epithetic.

Homeric epithet (also known as fixed or epic) is a formulaic phrase (often a compound adjective) used habitually to characterize a person or thing (for example, "blood-red sky" and "wine-dark sea").

In contemporary usage, epithet often carries a negative connotation and is treated as a synonym for "term of abuse" (as in the expression "racial epithet"). See Safire, below.

Examples and Observations:

  • "Children, I grant, should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men, or women, it is but a civil term for weakness."
    (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley)
  • "In art, all who have done something other than their predecessors have merited theepithet of revolutionary; and it is they alone who are masters."
    (Paul Gauguin)

Oxymorons: a small crowd-alone together?

Oxymoronfigure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory terms appear side by side; a compressed paradox. Plural: oxymora oroxymorons. Adjective: oxymoronic or oxymoric.

Examples and Observations:

  • Keep in mind that an oxymoron is an apparent contradiction.

    Here are some common examples of oxymoronic expressions: act naturally, random order, original copy, conspicuous absence, found missing, alone together, criminal justice, old news, peace force, even odds, awful good, student teacher, deafening silence, definite possibility, definite maybe, terribly pleased, ill health, turn up missing, jumbo shrimp, loose tights, small crowd, and clearly misunderstood.

  • "Ralph, if you're gonna be a phony, you might as well be a real phony."
    (Richard Yates, "Saying Goodbye to Sally." The Collected Stories of Richard Yates. Picador, 2002)
  • Josh Parsons: Please, I didn't kill anyone. I'm an extreme pacifist.
    Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan: That's an oxymoron. You're either extreme, or pacifist. You can't be both.
    (Andrew J. West and Emily Deschanel in "The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken." Bones, 2009)
  • "How is it possible to have a civil war?"
    (George Carlin)


"Yabba dabba do!": Fred Flintstone's trademark interjection in The Flintstones

Interjection - a short utterance that usually expresses emotion and is capable of standing alone. Interjections are generally considered one of the traditional parts of speech.

In writing, an interjection is typically followed by an exclamation point.

Examples and Observations:

  • "Bam!"
    (Chef Emeril Lagasse)
  • "Well!"
    (Jack Benny)
  • "Just the thought of playing with Bird, wow!"
    (Herbie Hancock)
  • "Hoo-ah!"
    (Al Pacino as Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman)
  • "M'm! M'm! Good!"
    (Campbell's Soup advertising slogan)



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