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    Best Figure for Snappy Answers

    Figgy.jpgFigaro is on tour, but he has not shirked his figurative duties. He’s written up the best figure for each of several useful purposes.

    Today’s winner for Most Retortable is…

    antistasis (an-TIH-sta-sis), the repeat that changes a word’s meaning. From the Greek, meaning “opposing position.”

    If you want to rhetorically flip an adversary, repeat her words in a way that ruins her meaning. That’s what the antistasis is for. It plays on a word or puts it in a different context.

    “You said you wanted it in the worst way. Well, you’re getting it in the worst way.”
    “I wasted time and now time doth waste me.” (Shakespeare)
    “I don’t buy the ‘fog of war’ defense. It was a fog of bureaucracy.” (Michael Brown, former FEMA head)
    “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” (Benjamin Franklin)

    The most fun kind of antistasis plays on words. After all, as Hamlet said, “The play’s the thing.”


    ennoia (en-NOY-a), the figure of faint praise.
    synchoresis (sin-cho-REE-sis), conceding a point to make a stronger one.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    "I wasted time, and now time doth waste me." Don't you say in your book that that's a chiasmus?
    November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSammy
    Yes, it's a chiasmus all right. And also a first-rate antistasis. Many memorable sentences employ multiple figures.

    November 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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