As a word groupie, I love to collect new words.
Lately I’ve been interested in learning about rhetorical devices and the words used to describe them. Here are 14 examples that will make you say, “There’s a word for that?”
1. Ambigram—a word that can be turned upside down and still be read as the same word.
Example: MOW or NOON
2. Antimetabole—a word or a phrase that is repeated in the opposite order in the next clause or phrase.
Example: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”
3. Collocation—a familiar grouping of words, especially words that typically appear together and convey meaning by association. To group the words differently would seem wrong.
Example: black and white
4. Contranym—is a word that can mean the opposite of itself.
Example: oversight can mean an error caused by inattention, or it can mean supervision.
5. Diacritic—is a symbol added to a letter to change the pronunciation. Most diacritics used in modern English come from other languages.
Examples: café, cliché, mañana
6. Diminutive—a suffix added to a word to mean little, small, or young.
Examples: piglet, starlet
7. Homographs—words written the same way, but having different meanings and different pronunciations.
Examples: wind, advocate, bass
8. Homonym—words written and pronounced the same way, but they have different meanings.
Examples: lie, fair
9. Homophones—words spelled differently, but they sound the same.
Examples: rain, rein, reign; beach, beech
10. Minced oath—a euphemism in which a curse word is replaced by something less offensive.
Examples: darn instead of damn; freaking instead of the other f-word
11. Neologism—a newly coined word.
Examples: app, Google, staycation
12. Palindrome—a word or phrase spelled the same way forward or backward.
Examples: madam, kayak, rotator
13. Portmanteau word—a word formed from parts of other words.
Examples: Swatch formed from Swiss and watch; brunch formed from breakfast and lunch.
14. Tmesis—a word or phrase that is split in two and another word is added in the middle.
Examples: fan-freaking-tastic; I am so not going camping
PR Daily readers—any other favorite words about words?
Laura Hale Brockway is the author of the writing and editing blog impertinentremarks.com.