Quote: “My lord, we had quite forgot the fart.” Queen Elizabeth I.
Figure of Speech: apophasis (a-PA-pha-sis), the not-to-mention figure. From the Greek, meaning “denial.”
The story goes that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, farted in front of the Virgin Queen. Mortified, he went into exile for seven years (and, according to another legend, wrote plays attributed to Shakespeare).
When the earl finally returned, the queen greeted him with an apophasis — an ironic figure that asserts a point by denying it. We at Figures Central have encountered many examples, but none so deft as Elizabeth’s. Historians say the story is probably apocryphal, but Figaro prefers to follow the wisdom of Winston Churchill: “It is all true,” he said of King Arthur, “or it ought to be.”
No, none of that. When it comes to farting, Figaro chooses to remain silent.
Snappy Answer: “Your majesty’s odor is far more memorable.”