Figure of Speech: synonymia, synonyms gone wild.
Pity the poor business reporter who has to turn numbers into a trend story. The writer has to apply all his lexigraphical skill to say “go up” or “go down” as many ways as possible, thus employing a figure called synonymia (“like words”).
The ancients saw the synonymia as a form of copia, or rhetorical abundance. But Figaro, who’s more easily bored, considers it a vice. Sports announcers drive him crazy when they combine synonymia with anthropomorphism: “The Harriers buzzed the Minute Men 7-0, the Banana Slugs slimed the Boll Weevils 87-85, and the Stoners smoked the Born-Agains 100-20.” Just give us the scores, Dude.
Figurist Brian Edwards, who sent us the quote, notes that the Wall Street Journal calibrates its verbs to match the numbers. A plunge is worse than a drop, which is worse than a fall, which is worse than a slide. So there truly is poetry in math — a dangerous mix of rhyme and reason.
Snappy Answer: “The writer’s verbs went into a free fall, hitting terminal velocity in his last, vertiginous clause.”