What Is a Spoonerism? | Definition & Examples

A spoonerism is the transposition of the initial sounds of two or more words, like “belly jeans” instead of “jelly beans.” Spoonerisms occur mostly due to slip of the tongue but can also be intentional as a form of humor.

Spoonerism examples
Correct phrase Spoonerism
take a shower shake a tower
bad salad sad ballad
pork chops chork pops
grilled cheese chilled grease

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Mondegreen | Meaning, Definition & Examples

A mondegreen is a word or phrase that results from mishearing another word or phrase, especially in a song lyric or poem. This can lead to amusing or bizarre misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Mondegreens occur mainly due to similar-sounding words.

Mondegreen examples
Song Correct phrase Misinterpretation
“Silent Night” (Christmas carol) Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peas.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind. The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind.
“Chasing Pavements” by Adele Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing pavements? Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing penguins?
“Beast of Burden” by The Rolling Stones I’ll never be your beast of burden. I’ll never leave your pizza burning.

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What Is an Aphorism? | Definition, Examples & Meaning

An aphorism is a brief statement that expresses a general truth or principle about life. Aphorisms can be humorous and often require interpretation. Due to their clever and memorable nature, aphorisms are commonly found in literature, philosophy, and everyday conversations.

Aphorism example
“Education is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” – Confucius

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein

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What Is Invective? | Definition, Meaning & Examples

Invective is insulting, abusive, or highly critical language. It involves using disparaging words to attack a person, a topic, or an institution. While invective is common in everyday communication, it is also a literary device used in speeches, prose, and poetry.

Invective example in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”

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Grawlix | Meaning, Definition, Examples & Use

Grawlix is a term for the use of an unpronounceable string of punctuation in place of a curse word or other taboo term. It can also be called “obscenicon” (a portmanteau of “obscenity” and “emoticon”) or “symbol swearing.”

Comic strips often use grawlix to show that a character is saying or thinking something “unprintable”—often to express frustration or surprise. It can also be used on social media to hide profanity. An instance of grawlix can appear alone or as part of a sentence.

Grawlix example
“I had a $%#! day, and I’m $%@!%&$ tired!”

“@$%&#!”

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What Is Synecdoche? | Definition & Examples

Synecdoche is a figure of speech that uses a part of something to refer to the whole (e.g., using the word “wheels” to refer to a car). Sometimes, synecdoche involves using the whole to refer to a part (e.g., referring to the Brazilian football team as “Brazil”).

Synecdoche is an effective literary device for creating memorable images and avoiding repetition. Because of this, it is commonly used in poetry, literature, and everyday speech.

Synecdoche example
My nephew is learning his ABCs. [the alphabet]

Would you like paper or plastic? [types of grocery bag]

Can I buy you a glass? [a drink]

They have boots on the ground for a serious mission. [soldiers]

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What Is Irony? | Definition, Examples & Types

Irony is a rhetorical device in which the apparent meaning of a situation or statement is not the same as the underlying meaning. Irony involves a contrast between appearance or expectation and reality.

Irony example
Suppose you and your friend are watching a political candidate give a long and incoherent speech. At the end of the speech, you turn to your friend and say “What a masterclass in public speaking!”

Irony is often used in literature, but you may also encounter it in everyday conversations, movies, or song lyrics. It’s best to avoid irony in academic writing or professional communication to prevent miscommunications.

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What Is Dramatic Irony? | Definition & Examples

Dramatic irony is a literary device in which the audience knows something that the characters in a work of fiction do not. As a result of their limited knowledge, the characters often make flawed decisions and face the consequences.

Dramatic irony is used to create suspense as the audience is unsure when and how the character will find out what is actually happening.

Dramatic irony example
Suppose you are watching a horror movie and you know the killer is hiding in the bedroom closet. The protagonist enters the room unaware of what is lurking in the dark. This is an example of dramatic irony: you have a piece of crucial information that one of the characters doesn’t have.

Because dramatic irony helps to create tension and build up the audience’s anticipation, it is a storytelling device used in many genres, such as horror, comedy, and drama. If you want to explore creative writing, use QuillBot’s paraphrasing tool!

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What Is Metonymy? | Definition & Examples

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a word is replaced with another word closely associated with the original concept, such as “love” with “heart.”

Metonymy is used to create vivid imagery, add layers of meaning to a text, and convey ideas in a concise way. It’s commonly used in literature, newspaper headlines, and everyday speech.

Metonymy examples
Swedish is my mother tongue.

The White House declined to comment.

Tom’s favorite dish is mac and cheese.

They had a Monet hanging on their wall, and they didn’t know.

The use of metonymy is common in literature and in everyday conversations, but it should be avoided in academic writing or professional communication.

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What Is a Trope? | Definition & Examples

In rhetoric, a trope is a word or phrase that implies something different to its ordinary meaning. Instead of its literal meaning, a trope generates a figurative meaning. This is usually done to add flair to written or spoken language.

Trope example
“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”

In this quote from All’s Well that Ends Well, Shakespeare does not literally mean that life is a web. Instead, he uses a trope called a metaphor to suggest that life resembles a web: it is complicated and the good and the bad are entangled.

Tropes are common in literature, but also in everyday speech, advertising, and politics. If you want to explore creative writing, use QuillBot to quickly and easily paraphrase online.

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