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Abbreviation - Buzzword

A glossary of grammatical and rhetorical terms, from ABBREVIATION to BUZZWORD. Click on a term for definitions, examples, word history, pronunciation guide, and links to related articles.

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase.

absolute adjective
An adjective with a meaning that is generally not capable of being intensified or compared.

absolute metaphor
An absolute metaphor is a figurative comparison in which one of the terms (the tenor) can't be readily distinguished from the other (the vehicle).

absolute phrase
An absolute phrase is a group of words (often consisting of a participle and its subject) that modifies an independent clause as a whole.

An abstract is a brief overview of the key points of an article, report, or proposal.

abstract noun
An abstract noun is a noun that names an idea, a quality, or a concept.

Academese is an informal, pejorative term for the specialized language (or jargon) used in some scholarly writing and speech.

academic writing
Academic writing refers to the forms of expository prose used by university students and researchers to convey a body of information about a particular subject.

(1) In speaking, an identifiable style of pronunciation. (2) In traditional English metrics, the emphasis given a syllable by stress, pitch, and duration. (3) A diacritical mark.

accent prejudice
Accent prejudice is the perception that certain accents are inferior to others.

Coyness: a form of irony in which a person feigns a lack of interest in something that he or she actually desires.

In linguistics, accommodation is the process by which participants in a conversation adjust their accent, diction, or other aspects of language according to the speech style of the other participant.

Accumulation is a figure of speech in which a speaker or writer gathers scattered points and lists them together.

accusative case
See "objective case."

An acrolect is a creole variety that tends to command respect because its grammatical structures do not deviate significantly from those of the standard variety of the language.

An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name or by combining initial letters of a series of words.

An acrostic is a series of lines in which certain letters--usually the first in each line--form a name or message when read in sequence.

active vocabulary
The words readily used by an individual when speaking and writing.

active voice
Active voice is a type of sentence or clause in which the subject performs or causes the action expressed by the verb.

ad hominem
An ad hominem argument is based on the failings of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case; a logical fallacy that involves a personal attack.

ad misericordiam
Ad misericordiam is an argument based on an appeal to the emotions; a logical fallacy that involves an irrelevant or highly exaggerated appeal to pity or sympathy.

An adage is an ancient saying or maxim, brief and sometimes mysterious, that has become accepted as conventional wisdom.

Adaptation refers to the principles that guide a speaker or writer's choice of rhetorical strategies for dealing effectively with an audience.

A rhetorical term for a text that has an alternative or "deeper" meaning in addition to its apparent or surface meaning.

adjacency pair
In conversation analysis, a two-part exchange in which the second utterance is functionally dependent on the first.

(1) A cover term for a single adjective or a word group with an adjective as a head. (2) A word or phrase that functions as an adjective to modify a noun.

An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.

adjective clause
An adjective clause is a dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.

adjective order
Adjective order is the customary order in which two or more adjectives appear in front of a noun phrase.

adjective phrase
An adjective phrase is a word group with an adjective as its head. This adjective may be accompanied by modifiers or qualifiers.

A word, phrase, or clause--usually an adverbial--that is integrated within the structure of a sentence and that can be omitted without making the sentence ungrammatical.

adjustment letter
A written response by a representative of a business or agency to a customer's claim letter.

advanced composition
A university-level course in expository writing beyond the first-year level.

An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.

adverb of emphasis
An intensifier (such as "certainly," "obviously," "undoubtedly") used to give added force or a greater degree of certainty to another word in a sentence or to the sentence as a whole.

adverb phrase
A word group with an adverb as its head. This adverb may be accompanied by modifiers or qualifiers.

adverb(ial) clause
An adverb (or adverbial) clause is a dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.

A phrase or clause that performs the function of an adverb.

affirmative sentence
A traditional grammatical term for any statement that is positive, not negative.

An affix is a word element (morpheme)--usually a prefix or suffix--that can be attached to a base, stem, or root to form a new word or a new form of a word.

In linguistics, affixation is the process of adding a morpheme (or affix) to a word to create either (a) a different form of that word, or (b) a new word with a different meaning.

a fortiori
A fortiori is an argument in which a rhetor reaches a conclusion by first setting up two possibilities, one of which is more probable than the other.

African-American rhetoric
The art of persuasion and effective communication as practiced by African-Americans.

African-American Vernacular English (AAVE)
AAVE is a variety of American English spoken by many African Americans.

In grammar, the agent is the person or thing that performs an action in a sentence.

In rhetoric, a discussion, debate, or argument perceived as a competition or contest.

Agrammatism is the pathological inability to use words in grammatical sequence.

Agreement is the correspondence of a verb with its subject in person and number, and of a pronoun with its antecedent in person, number, and gender.

The condition of being able to read but being uninterested in doing so.

Allegory is the extension of a metaphor so that objects, persons, and actions in a text are equated with meanings that lie outside the text.

allegro speech
Allegro speech is the deliberate misspelling, respelling, or non-standard alternative spelling of words, usually with the purpose of conveying rapid or informal speech patterns.

Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.

An allomorph is a variant form of a morpheme.

The name of a person (usually a historical person) assumed by a writer as a pen name or alias.

In linguistics, an allophone is an audibly distinct variant of a phoneme.

An allusion is a brief, usually indirect reference to a person, place, or event--real or fictional.

The letters of a language, arranged in the order fixed by custom.

Alternation is a variation in the form of a word or other linguistic feature.

alternative question
A type of question that offers the listener a closed choice between two or more answers.

Ambiguity is the presence of two or more possible meanings in a single passage.

Amelioration is the upgrading or elevation of a word's meaning, as when a word with a negative sense develops a positive one.

American English (AmE)
Broadly, American English refers to the varieties of the English language spoken and written in the United States and Canada. More narrowly (and more commonly), it refers to the varieties of English used in the U.S.

American spelling
American spelling refers to the spelling conventions generally followed by users of present-day American English.

An Americanism is an English word or phrase--or a feature of grammar, spelling, or pronunciation--that originated in the United States and/or is used primarily by Americans.

Americanization (linguistics)
In linguistics, Americanization refers to the influence of the distinctive lexical and grammatical forms of American English on other varieties of the English language.

The ampersand is a character or sign (&) representing the word "and."

An ambiguous word or grammatical structure in a sentence.

A nonsensical piece of writing, especially one that parodies a serious piece of writing.

Amplification is a rhetorical term for all the ways that an argument, explanation, or description can be expanded and enriched.

An incoherent statement or deliberate rhetorical effect created by an abrupt change in a sentence to a second construction inconsistent with the first.

Anadiplosis is the repetition of the last word or phrase of one line or clause to begin the next.

An anagram is a type of word play in which a word or phrase is formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase.

analogy (composition)
An analogy is a type of composition (or, more commonly, a part of a composition or speech) in which one idea, process, or thing is explained by comparing it to something else.

analogy (rhetoric)
An analogy is reasoning or arguing from parallel cases.

Analysis is a form of expository writing in which the writer separates a subject into its elements or parts.

anaphora (grammar)
Anaphora is a grammatical term for the use of a pronoun or other linguistic unit to refer back to another word or phrase.

anaphora (rhetoric)
Anaphora is a rhetorical term for the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses.

Anastrophe is a rhetorical term for the inversion of conventional word order.

An anecdote is a short account of an interesting or humorous incident, intended to illustrate or support some point.

See Old English.

animate noun
A semantic category of noun, referring to a person, animal, or other creature.

annotated bibliography
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (usually articles and books) on a selected topic accompanied by a brief summary and evaluation of each source.

An annotation is a concise statement of the key idea(s) in a text or a portion of a text.

Antanaclasis is a rhetorical term for the use of one word in two contrasting (and often comic) senses.

In grammar, an antecedent is the noun or noun phrase that a pronoun refers to.

Anthimeria is a rhetorical term for the use of one part of speech for another.

An anthroponym is a personal name.

Anthypophora is a rhetorical term for the practice of asking oneself a question and then immediately answering it.

anticipatory "it"
Anticipatory "it" is the use of the pronoun "it" in the usual subject position of a sentence as a stand-in for the postponed subject, which appears after the verb.

Anti-language is a minority dialect or method of communicating within a minority speech community that excludes members of the main speech community.

In argumentative speech or writing, the act of disparaging an opponent's use of language by characterizing it as rhetoric or oratory, with the implication that eloquent language is inherently meaningless or deceitful.

In rhetoric, a general name for argumentative strategies whereby a speaker or writer foresees and replies to objections.

Anticlimax is an abrupt shift from a noble tone to a less exalted one--often for comic effect.

In rhetoric, antimetabole is a verbal pattern in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first but with the words reversed.

Antiphrasis is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is used in a sense contrary to its conventional meaning for ironic or humorous effect; verbal irony.

Rejecting an argument because of its insignificance, error, or wickedness.

Antistasis is the repetition of a word in a different or a contrary sense.

Antithesis is the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.

Substitution of a title, epithet, or descriptive phrase for a proper name (or of a personal name for a common name) to designate a member of a group or class.

An antonym is a word having a meaning opposite to that of another word.

Antonymy refers to the semantic qualities or sense relations that exist between words with opposite meanings (i.e., antonyms).

Aphaeresis is a rhetorical and phonological term for the omission of one or more sounds or syllables from the beginning of a word.

Partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, resulting from damage to the brain caused by injury or disease.

The gradual and unintentional loss of a short unaccented vowel at the beginning of a word.

(1) A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion. (2) A brief statement of a principle.

Apocope is a rhetorical term for the omission of one or more sounds or syllables from the end of a word.

In rhetoric, apodioxis is the rejection of an opponent's argument or accusation as absurd or inconsequential.

Apodixis is a term in classical rhetoric for the confirmation of a statement by referring to a widely accepted principle grounded in common experience.

An apologia is a speech that defends, justifies, and/or apologizes for an action or statement.

Apophasis is the mention of something in disclaiming intention of mentioning it--or pretending to deny what is really affirmed.

Apoplanesis is a rhetorical term for digression or evasion: promising to address an issue but then avoiding it by discussing something else.

Aporia is a figure of speech in which the speaker expresses real or simulated doubt or perplexity.

An unfinished thought or broken sentence.

apostrophe (figure of speech)
Rhetorical apostrophe is a figure of speech in which some absent or nonexistent person or thing is addressed as if present and capable of understanding.

apostrophe (punctuation)
The apostrophe is a mark of punctuation used to identify a noun in the possessive case or indicate the omission of one or more letters from a word.

In classical rhetoric, one of the three main persuasive strategies: the appeal to logic (logos), the appeal to the emotions (pathos), and the appeal to the character (or perceived character) of the speaker (ethos). More broadly, any persuasive strategy, especially one directed to the emotions, sense of humor, or cherished beliefs of an audience.

appeal to authority
A fallacy in which a rhetor seeks to persuade not by giving evidence but by appealing to the respect people have for the famous.

appeal to force
Appeal to force is a fallacy that relies on force or intimidation (scare tactics) to persuade an audience to accept a proposition or take a particular course of action.

appeal to humor
The appeal to humor is a fallacy in which a rhetor uses humor to ridicule an opponent and/or direct attention away from the issue at hand.

appeal to ignorance
A fallacy based on the assumption that a statement must be true if it cannot be proved false.

appeal to the people
The appeal to the people ("argumentum ad populum") is an argument (generally considered a logical fallacy) based on widespread opinions, values, or prejudices.

A collection of supplementary materials, usually appearing at the end of a report, proposal, or book.

applied linguistics
Applied linguistics is the use of language-related research in a wide variety of fields.

Apposition is the placement side-by-side of two coordinate elements, the second of which serves to identify or rename the first.

An appositive is a noun, noun phrase, or series of nouns placed next to another word or phrase to identify or rename it.

appositive adjective
An appositive adjective is a traditional grammatical term for an adjective (or a series of adjectives) that follows a noun and, like a nonrestrictive appositive, is set off by commas or dashes.

appropriateness (communication)
In linguistics and communication studies, appropriateness is the extent to which an utterance is perceived as suitable for a particular purpose and a particular audience in a particular social context.

An aptronym is a name that matches the occupation or character of its owner, often in a humorous or ironic way.

In linguistics, arbitrariness is the absence of any natural or necessary connection between a word's meaning and its sound or form.

An archaism is a word or phrase that is considered extremely old fashioned and long out of common use.

A specialized vocabulary or set of idioms used by a particular social class or group, especially one that functions outside the law.

argument (linguistics)
In linguistics, an argument is any expression or syntactic element in a sentence that serves to complete the meaning of a verb.

argument (rhetoric)
Argument is a course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating truth or falsehood.

The process of forming reasons, justifying beliefs, and drawing conclusions with the aim of influencing the thoughts and/or actions of others.

Arrangement refers to the parts of a speech or the structure of a text.

ars dictaminis
In medieval rhetoric, the art of letter writing.

article (composition)
In composition studies, an article is a short work of nonfiction that typically appears in a magazine, newspaper, or book.

article (grammar)
In grammar, an article is a type of determiner that precedes a noun: "a," "an," and "the."

artistic proofs
In rhetoric, the artistic proofs are proofs (or means of persuasion) that are created or invented by a speaker.

ascriptive sentence
An ascriptive sentence is a sentence, usually constructed with a copula, in which a quality is attributed to someone or something.

A prolix or highly ornamented style. Contrast with Attic.

In conversation or drama, an aside is a short passage spoken in an undertone or addressed to an audience.

Aspect is the verb form that indicates completion, duration, or repetition of an action. The two primary aspects in English are perfect and progressive.

assemblage error
An assemblage error is the unintentional rearrangement of sounds, letters, syllables, or words in speech or writing.

Assimilation is a general term in phonetics for the process by which a speech sound becomes similar or identical to a neighboring sound.

associative meaning
Associative meaning refers to the particular qualities or characteristics beyond denotative meaning that people commonly think of in relation to a word or phrase.

Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.

Asteismus is a rhetorical term for a mocking or facetious reply that employs word play.

A star-shaped figure (*) primarily used to indicate an omission or call attention to a footnote.

Asterismos is a rhetorical term for an introductory word or phrase that has the primary function of calling attention to what follows.

asymmetry (communication)
In conversation analysis, an imbalance in the relationship between speaker and heahttp://0.tqn.com/f/tls/menu_preview.gifrer(s) as a result of social and institutional factors.

Asyndeton is the omission of conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses (opposite of "polysyndeton").

Attic means a brief, witty, sometimes epigrammatic style--opposite of the ornate Asiatic style.

attributive adjective
An attributive adjective is an adjective that usually comes before the noun it modifies without a linking verb.

attributive noun
An attributive noun is a noun that modifies another noun and functions as an adjective.

In rhetoric, audience refers to the listeners or spectators at a speech or performance, or the intended readership for a piece of writing.

audience analysis
In composing an essay, report, speech, or argument, the process of determining the values, interests, and attitudes of the intended audience.

Australian English (AusE)
Australian English is a variety of the English language that is used in Australia.

An English word or phrase--or a feature of grammar, spelling, or pronunciation--that originated in Australia and/or is used primarily by Australians.

An autobiography is an account of a person's life written or otherwise recorded by that person.

Auxesis is a gradual increase in intensity of meaning with words arranged in ascending order of force or importance.

auxiliary verb
An auxiliary verb (also known as a helping verb) is a verb that determines the mood, tense, or aspect of another verb in a verb phrase.

"A-verbing" is a form of the verb (usually the present participle) in which the base is preceded by the prefix "a-."

Babu English
A generally disparaging term for a variety of South Asian English marked in speech and writing by indirectness, stylistic ornamentation, and extreme formality and politeness.

baby talk (caregiver speech)
Baby talk (or caregiver speech) is the simple language forms used by young children, or the modified form of speech used by adults with children.

back slang
A form of slang in which words are spoken or spelled backwards.

back-channel signal
A back-channel signal is a noise, gesture, expression, or word used by a listener to indicate that he or she is paying attention to a speaker.

Back-formation is the process of forming a new word (a neologism) by extracting actual or supposed affixes from another word.

In the Toulmin model of argument, backing is the support or explanation provided for the warrant.

A backronym is a reverse acronym: an expression that has been formed from the letters of an existing word or name.

Backshift is the changing of a present tense to a past tense following a past form of a reporting verb.

bad-news message
In business writing, a letter, memo, or email that conveys negative or unpleasant information--information that is likely to disappoint, upset, or even anger a reader.

See "gobbledygook"

balanced sentence
A balanced sentence is made up of two parts that are roughly equal in length, importance, and grammatical structure.

A fallacy based on the assumption that the opinion of the majority is always valid: everyone believes it, so you should too.

Banglish is an informal term for a dialectal mix of Bengali (the official language of Bangladesh) and English.

Broadly, barbarism refers to an incorrect use of language. More specifically, it is a word considered "improper" because it combines elements from different languages.

In literary studies and rhetoric, baroque (sometimes capitalized) is a style of writing that is extravagant, heavily ornamented, or bizarre.

The form of a word to which prefixes and suffixes are added to create new words.

base form of a verb
The first- and second-person singular, and the plural present-tense form of a verb. In grammar, the base form of a verb is the simplest form, without a special ending; it is the form listed in the dictionary.

Basic English
A version of the English language "made simple by limiting the number of its words to 850, and by cutting down the rules for using them to the smallest number necessary for the clear statement of ideas" (I.A. Richards).

basic writing
A pedagogical term for the writing of "high risk" students who are perceived to be unprepared for conventional college courses in freshman composition.

(1) An insincere and/or excessively sentimental demonstration of pathos. (2) An abrupt and often ludicrous transition in style from the elevated to the ordinary.

bathtub effect
The bathtub effect is the observation that, when trying to remember a word or name, people find it easier to recall the beginning and end of a lost item than the middle.

Battology is a rhetorical term for needless and tiresome repetition in speaking or writing.

A litany of abuse--a series of critical epithets, descriptions, or attributes.

"be" deletion
"Be" deletion refers to the omission of the copula verb "be" in a sentence that's in the present tense.

begging the question
A fallacy in which the premise of an argument presupposes the truth of its conclusion; in other words, the argument takes for granted what it is supposed to prove.

In its broadest sense, any literary work; in particular, the term "is now generally applied (when used at all) to the lighter branches of literature."

biased language
The term biased language refers to words and phrases that are considered prejudiced, offensive, and hurtful.

A bibliography is a list of works on a particular subject or by a particular author.

Bicapitalization is the use of a capital letter in the middle of a word or name-- usually a brand name or a company name.

Bilingualism is the ability to use two languages effectively.

In language studies, a pair of words (for example, "loud and clear") conventionally linked by a conjunction, usually "and."

A biography is the story of a person's life, written by another.

In semantics and historical linguistics, bleaching refers to the loss or reduction of meaning in a word as a result of semantic change.

A blend is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two or more other words.

block language
Block language refers to language structures--typical of headlines, slogans, lists, and text messages--made up only of words that are essential to convey a message.

block quotation
A block quotation is a direct quotation that is not placed inside quotation marks but is instead set off from the rest of a text by starting it on a new line and indenting it from the left margin.

Bloviation is speech or writing that is wordy, lengthy, pompous, and generally empty of meaning

blurred word
A blurred word is a term coined by lexicographer Stuart Flexner to characterize any imprecise expression "used quickly and without much thought, almost as [an] automatic response."

body language
Body language is a type of nonverbal communication that relies on body movements (such as gestures, posture, and facial expressions) to convey messages.

body paragraphs
Body paragraphs form the part of an essay, report, or speech that explains and develops a main idea (or thesis).

Bombast is a pejorative term for pompous and inflated speech or writing.

Bomphiologia is a traditional rhetorical term for pompous or bombastic speech.

book report
A book report is a written composition or oral presentation that describes, summarizes, and (often, but not always) evaluates a work of fiction or nonfiction.

An adverbial construction used to support a claim or express a viewpoint more assertively and convincingly.

A borrowing is a word from one language that has been adapted for use in another.

bound morpheme
A bound morpheme is a morpheme (or word element), such as a prefix or suffix, that cannot stand alone as a word.

Bowdlerism is the act of removing or restating any material in a text that might be considered offensive to some readers.

Brachylogy is a rhetorical term for a concise or condensed form of expression in speech or writing.

Brackets are marks of punctuation ([ ]) used to interject text within other text.

Brainstorming is an invention and discovery strategy in which the writer collaborates with others to explore topics, develop ideas, or propose solutions to a problem.

brand name
A name applied by a manufacturer or organization to a particular product or service.

Brevity refers to shortness in duration and/or conciseness of expression in a speech or work of prose.

A Briticism (or Britishism) is a word or phrase that is typical of English as it is used in Britain.

British English
British English refers to the varieties of the English language spoken and written in Great Britain (or, more narrowly defined, in England).

British spelling
British spelling refers to the spelling conventions generally followed by users of present-day British English.

broad reference
A pronoun that refers to a complete clause or sentence rather than a specific noun or noun phrase.

Broadening is the process by which the meaning of a word becomes broader or more inclusive than its earlier meaning.

An informal term for a distinctive regional pronunciation, especially an Irish or Scottish accent.

broken English
Broken English is a pejorative term for a limited register of English used by a non-native speaker.

broken-record response
The broken-record response is the conversational strategy of forestalling further discussion by repeating the same phrase or sentence over and over.

bullet (punctuation)
A bullet is a mark of punctuation (•) used to introduce items in a list.

Bureaucratese is obscure speech or writing that is typically characterized by wordiness, euphemisms, and buzzwords.

Burkean parlor
The Burkean parlor is a metaphor introduced by Kenneth Burke for "the 'unending conversation' that is going on at the point in history when we are born."

burlesque metaphor
A burlesque metaphor is a metaphor in which the figurative comparison is exceptionally comic, grotesque, or exaggerated.

business jargon
Business jargon is the specialized language used by members of corporations and bureaucracies. It typically includes buzzwords, vogue words, and euphemisms.

business writing
Business writing refers to memorandums, reports, proposals, and other forms of writing used in organizations to communicate with internal or external audiences.

Buzzword is an informal term for a fashionable word or phrase (often a neologism) that is used more to impress than to inform.

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