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Metalepsis

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Metalepsis

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Metalepsis is the description of something through the use of a weakly-related item.

Example

Angels' feathers on the mountainside. (Angels have white feathers, snow is white, patches of snow are like feathers).

He forced a silence with a leaden hand. ('heavy handed' approach combined with 'lead is heavy').

Through mists of time the old train belched forth. (Old steam train creates 'mist').

Discussion

By making the meaning of something less clear, you cause confusion and thus force the listener to pause and think about what you really mean. Metalepsis is thus an attentional device.

Metalepsis may use various mechanisms to distance the target subject from the words used, including:

  • Chains of relationships.
  • Chains of cause and effect.
  • Linked figures of speech.
  • Strained or extended metaphor.

Classification: Attention, Hidden

See also

Attention principle, Confusion principle, Metaphor

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