Apostrophe (figure of speech)

Apostrophe (figure of speech)

Apostrophe (Greek ἀποστροφή, "apostrophé", "turning away"; the final "e" being sounded) is an exclamatory rhetorical figure of speech, when a talker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an imaginary person or abstract quality or idea. In dramatic works and poetry, it is often introduced by the word "O" (not to be confused with the exclamation "oh").

It is related to personification, although in apostrophe, objects or abstractions are implied to have certain human qualities (such as understanding) by the very fact that the speaker is addressing them as he would a person in his presence.

Apostrophe is often used to convey extreme emotion, as in Claudius' impassioned speech in "Hamlet". [citation
last = Shakespeare
first = William
author-link = William Shakespeare
title = Hamlet
chapter = Act 3, Scene 3

Apostrophe (figure of speech) in Poetria Nova by Geoffrey of Vinsauf

Apostrophe (apostrophatio, exclamatio). In order that you may travel the more spacious route, let apostrophe be a fourth mode of delay. By it you may cause the subject to linger on its way, and in it you may stroll for an hour. Take delight in the apostrophe; without it the feast would be ample enough, but with it the courses of an excellent cuisine are multiplied. The splendor of dishes arriving in rich profusion and the leisured delay at the table are festive signs. (270) With a variety of courses we feed the ear for a longer time and more lavishly. Here is the food indeed for the ear when it arrives delicious and fragrant costly. Example may serve to complement theory: the eye is a surer arbiter than the ear. One example is not enough; there will be an ample number; from this ample evidence learn what occasion suitably introduces apostrophe, what object it addresses, and in what form.

Rise up apostrophe, before the man whose mind soars too high in prosperity, and rebuke him thus:

Why does joy so intense excite your spirit? Curb jubilation with due restraint and extend not its limits beyond what is meet (appropriate). O soul, heedless of misfortune to come imitate Janus [.] (280)


*"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet", Act II, Scene 2.
*"O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, / That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! / Thou art the ruins of the noblest man / That ever lived in the tide of times." Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar", Act 3, Scene 1.
*"To what green altar, O mysterious priest, / Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, / And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?" John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn".
*"O eloquent, just, and mighty Death!" Sir Walter Raleigh, "A Historie of the World"
*"Roll on thou dark and deep blue ocean." Lord Byron, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage".
*"Science! True daughter of Old Time thou art!" Edgar Allan Poe, "To Science".
*Common usage as an opposition speaker at a political convention: "And I say to you, Mr. President, we do not want our children to grow up in a world where...(etc.)"
*"O Captain! My Captain!", title of Walt Whitman's poem.
*"Oh, brave new world that has such people in't!", Shakespeare, "The Tempest," Act 5, Scene 1.
*"Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws", from Sonnet 19 by William Shakespeare
*"O cunning Love!" , from Sonnet 148 by William Shakespeare
*" Death, be not proud, though some have called thee", John Donne, "Death be not Proud"
*" And you, Eumaeus..."(The Odyssey)



Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • figure of speech — [n] communication that is not meant literally; stylistic device adumbration, allegory, alliteration, allusion, analogue, anaphora, anticlimax, antistrophe, antithesis, aposiopesis, apostrophe, asyndeton, bathos, comparison, conceit, echoism,… …   New thesaurus

  • Figure of speech — A figure of speech, sometimes termed a rhetoric, or locution, is a word or phrase that departs from straightforward, literal language. Figures of speech are often used and crafted for emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However,… …   Wikipedia

  • figure of speech — Synonyms and related words: adornment, alliteration, allusion, anacoluthon, anadiplosis, analogy, anaphora, anastrophe, antiphrasis, antithesis, antonomasia, apophasis, aporia, aposiopesis, apostrophe, beauties, catachresis, chiasmus,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • figure of speech — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. expression, device (see figurative). II (Roget s IV) n. Figures of speech include: image, comParison, metaphor, simile, alliteration, onomatopoeia, metonymy, synecdoche, trope, epic simile, Homeric… …   English dictionary for students

  • Apostrophe (disambiguation) — An apostrophe ( ) is a punctuation mark.Apostrophe may also refer to: * Apostrophe (figure of speech), an address to a person or personified object not present * Apostrophe ( ) , an album by Frank Zappaee also* (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • Apostrophe — A*pos tro*phe, n. [(1) L., fr. Gr. ? a turning away, fr. ? to turn away; ? from + ? to turn. (2) F., fr. L. apostrophus apostrophe, the turning away or omitting of a letter, Gr. ?.] 1. (Rhet.) A figure of speech by which the orator or writer… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • apostrophe — apostrophe1 apostrophic /ap euh strof ik, stroh fik/, adj. /euh pos treuh fee/, n. the sign ( ), as used: to indicate the omission of one or more letters in a word, whether unpronounced, as in o er for over, or pronounced, as in gov t for… …   Universalium

  • Apostrophe (Rhétorique) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Apostrophe. L’apostrophe (substantif féminin), du grec apostrophi (action de se détourner), possède trois sens dans la langue française : il s’agit d’une fonction grammaticale utilisée pour marquer une… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Apostrophe (rhetorique) — Apostrophe (rhétorique) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Apostrophe. L’apostrophe (substantif féminin), du grec apostrophi (action de se détourner), possède trois sens dans la langue française : il s’agit d’une fonction grammaticale… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Figure De Style — Cupidon est dans ce tableau l allégorie de la liaison entre Vénus et Mars. Une figure de style (du latin figura : « dessin d’un objet », par extension sa « forme ») est un procédé d expression qui s’écarte de l’usage… …   Wikipédia en Français