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direct address


direct address

An example of direct address: the Wizard addressing the Tin Woodsman in The Wizard of Oz (1939)


A construction in which a speaker or writer directly addresses another individual; also, the name (or nickname) of the individual who is addressed.

Conventionally, the name of the individual who's addressed is set off by a comma or a pair of commas.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "You've been given a gift, Peter. With great power, comes great responsibility."
    (Cliff Robertson as Ben Parker in Spider-Man 2, 2004)

  • "Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain."
    (John Goodman as Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, 1998)

  • "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"
    (Rhett Butler's final words to Scarlett O'Hara in Margaret Mitchell's novel, Gone With the Wind, 1936)

  • Richard Vernon: My office is right across that hall. Any monkey business is ill-advised. Any questions?
    John Bender: Yeah, I have a question. Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?
    Richard Vernon: You'll get the answer to that question, Mr. Bender, next Saturday.
    (Paul Gleason and Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club, 1985)

  • Ilsa: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."
    Sam: Oh, I can't remember it, Miss Elsa. I'm a little rusty on it.
    (Ingrid Bergman and Dooley Wilson in Casablanca, 1942)

  • "Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now . . .. Here's looking at you, kid."
    (Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, 1942)

  • "And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
    (Dylan Thomas, "Do not go gentle into that good night")

  • The Use of "My Friends" in Direct Address
    "'My friends,' [Senator] John McCain recently informed a crowd, 'we spent $3 million of your money to study the DNA of bears in Montana.' . . .

    "McCain . . . referred to 'my friends' another 11 times. . . .

    "Is this a doctrine of pre-emptive friendship--immediately declaring crowds won over with an oratorical 'mission accomplished'? Perhaps, but McCain's friending is a strategy that hearkens back to classical rhetoric. Horace's call to 'amici' performed a similar function in ancient Rome, and Tennyson's 1833 poem 'Ulysses' drew upon that tradition for the immortal lines: 'Come, my friends/ 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.' . . .

    "But as a crowd bludgeon in modern political speechmaking, 'my friends' can be laid at the feet of one man: William Jennings Bryan. His famed 1896 'Cross of Gold' speech at the Democratic National Convention invoked the phrase a mind-crushing 10 times."
    (Paul Collins, "MF'er." Salon.com, September 1, 2008)

  • Ellen Gilchrist's Address to Students
    Dear Students,

    If you are not writing well and happily, or if you feel your writing is forced, stop for a while and read or go out into the world and watch building projects or street-repair crews or get a job in a mall for Christmas or get into the car and drive to a city and look at art. Learn, learn, learn, be curious, and, if possible, uncritical. Everywhere men and women are doing wonderful things, marvelous things, interesting things. Write paragraphs about what you see and don't try to turn them into anything but praise and understanding. . . .

    Learn, learn, learn, read, read, read. I will be thinking about you and wishing you well every day.

    (Ellen Gilchrist, The Writing Life. University Press of Mississippi, 2005)

  • The Lighter Side of Direct Address
    Cassio: Dost thou hear, mine honest friend?
    Clown: No, I hear not your honest friend. I hear you.
    (William Shakespeare, Othello, Act Three, scene 1)

    "Son, you got a panty on your head."
    (Truck driver addressing H.I. McDunnough in Raising Arizona, 1987)
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