Figures of Speech For All Competitive Examinations

 Introduction: ‘Figures of speech’ is a poetic tool. This beautifies the poem. A poet or writer can involve all his or her emotions in a composition with the help of ‘Figures of Speech’.

Example: We can understand better with the help of example which is given below:

‘William Shakespeare’ Says…….’Death lays his icy hands on the forehead of the king’.

This is the poetic style of a poet by which a poet can write the same words with different way of understanding.

In the above example, ‘William Shakespeare’ just wants to say that the king has died but he used ‘Personification’ (Figure of Speech).

He narrated the death as a living being and the hands of the death are on the forehead of the king.

This is the use of Figures of Speech.

Definition: A figure of speech is a departure from the ordinary form of expression to produce a better effect. It can be a special repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning or a phrase with specialised meaning.

Main figures of speech are given below

  1. Simile It is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the word ‘like’ or ‘as’ .e.g.

(1) He fights like a lion.

(2) She swims as fast as a fish.


  • He is as brave as a lion.
  • He was busy like a bee.
  • I came like water, like wind I go.
  • The lake was clear as crystal.
  • Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow.

He that would search for pearls, must dive below.

  • He shines like a star in his family.
  • He walks as slow as a tortoise.
  • Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart.
  • I wandered lonely as a cloud.
  • Life is like a wind that blows.

Future like a folded rose,

Who shall pluck it no man knows.

Note: There is no Simile in the comparison of the same two things.

  • She is as intelligent as her father.
  • Riya is as beautiful as Seema.
  1. Metaphor It is a figure of speech where we directly compare seemingly unrelated subjects. e.g.

(1) All the world’s stage.

(2) All the men and women merely players.

(3) They have their exits and their entrances.


  • We must be guided by the light of nature.
  • The wish is father to the thought.
  • Revenge is a kind of wild justice.
  • Variety is the spice of life.
  • Infancy is the dawn of life.
  • The camel is the ship of desert.
  • Life is a dream.
  • The world is a stage.
  • He was a lion in the fight.
  • The news was a dagger to my heart.

Difference between Simile and Metaphor: Metaphor is more effective than Simile.Words of comparison are not used in Metaphor.

  • Life is a dream. (Metaphor)
  • Life is like a dream. (Simile)
  • Maharana Pratap was a lion in the battle-field. (Metaphor)
  • Maharana Pratap fought like a lion in the battle-field. (Simile)
  1. Alliteration It is the repetition of initial sounds in neighbouring words. Alliteration draws attention to the phrase and is often used for emphasis. e.g.

(1) Sweet smell of success.

(2) Bigger and better.

  1. Hyperbole This device is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally. e.g.

(1) I could sleep for a year, I was so tired.

(2) She is older than the hills.


  • Rivers of blood flowed in the battlefield.
  • She filled the room with her tears.
  • The tea is icy cold.
  • All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.
  • The sea rose mountain high.
  • The man in the cave had the strength of a thousand elephants.
  • If rivers were dry, I am able to fill it with tears.
  • The sky neighbouring Himalayas.
  • He sneezed and the clouds would break.
  • Belinda smiled and all the world was gay.
  1. Oxymoron This figure of speech combines incongruous or contradictory terms. e.g.

(1) Dark light                     (2) Living dead

(3) A little big                    (4) Alone together


  • This is an open secret.
  • Life is bitter sweet.
  • He is a silent orator.
  • He is an innocent criminal.
  • The boy is regularly irregular.
  • She was kindly cruel to the child.
  • He is an honest thief.
  • The boy is idly busy.
  • His honour rooted stood.
  • That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
  1. Personification In this figure of speech, human characteristics are attributed to an animal or inanimate object. e.g.

(1) The wind howled in the night.

(2) My alarm clock yells at me every morning.


  • Death lays his icy hands on kings.
  • Truth sits upon the lips of a dying man.
  • Authority forgets a dying king.
  • Anxiety is sitting on his face.
  • Everest is the king of mountains.
  • Pride goeth forth on horseback grand and gay, But cometh back on foot and begs its way.
  • Let not Ambition mock their useful toil.
  • Knowledge is proud that it knows so much. Wisdom is humble that it knows no more.
  • Laughter holding both her sides.
  • The Himalayas wear a frowning look.
  1. Onomatopoeia It is a word that actually looks like a sound it makes and we can almost hear those sounds as we read. e.g.

(1) Water plops into pond.

(2) Splish splash down hill.


  • Ding-Dong goes the bell.
  • Tick-Tock goes the watch.
  • The buzzing of the bees.
  • The cat is mewing.
  • The murmuring of innumerable bees.
  • Grunt, grunt, goes the hog.
  • The lightening crashed.
  • I heard the hissing of the snakes.
  1. Irony It is a mode of speech in which the real meaning is exactly the opposite of that which is literally conveyed. e.g.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest (for Brutus is an honourable man) but Brutus says he was ambitious and Brutus is an honourable man.

  1. Metonymy In this figure of speech, we make substitution of name i.e substituting the thing named for the thing meant. It may be rhetorical strategy of describing something indirectly by referring to things around it. e.g.

They counted heads. (‘heads’ here refers to audience)

  1. Antitheses In this figure of speech, one word or idea is set against another with the aim to heighten the effects. e.g. His theory is the antithesis of mine.
  2. Imagery When the author uses words and phrase to create ‘mental images’ it is called imagery. It could be based on our five senses taste, sound, sight, smell and touch. Through the use of imagery, vivid pictures of a scene of a place are created by the poet or writer.

(1) Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

(2) A host of golden daffodils.

  1. Apostrophe: An Apostrophe is a direct address to the dead, to the absent or to a personified object or idea. Exclamation mark (!) is used mostly in this figure of speech.


  • O Death ! I cannot die.
  • Blow, blow thou winter wind.
  • O Grave ! Where is the victory ?
  • Milton ! thou shouldst be living at this hour.
  • O Mischief ! thou art swift.
  • O Duty ! Stern daughter of the voice of God.


  • Point out the figures of speech in the following.
  • The sky neighbouring Himalayas.
  • His words are as sweet as honey.
  • We heard the lapping of water on the stone.
  • O Liberty ! What crimes are committed in thy name.
  • Life is but a walking shadow.
  • His honour rooted in dishonor stood.
  • Dew drops are the gems of morning.
  • I will bring the stars for you.
  • He lived a life of laborious idleness.
  • She raised a cry that would raise the dead from the grave.
  • Danger will pass away like a troubled night.
  • He is an innocent criminal.
  • This place is a paradise to me.
  • The lake was clear as crystal.
  • Tarry a while, O death, I cannot die.
  • Life is a bed of roses.
  • We felt sweet pain at the time of parting.
  • I gave him a thousand thanks.
  • O Grave ! Where is thy victory ?
  • All the world is a stage.
  • Life is bitter sweet.
  • Childhood is like a swiftly passing
  • He is as busy as a bee.
  • Death lays his icy hands on kings.
  • O Death ! Where is thy sting ?
  • The sea waves rose mountain high.
  • I heard the tinkling of the bells.
  • She is as cunning as a fox.
  • He was the wisest fool of our village.
  • I wandered lonely as a cloud.
  • Truth sits upon the lips of a dying man.
  • Ranjit Singh was the lion of the
  • Anxiety is sitting on his face.
  • Children are living poems.
  • He was as brave as a lion.
  • The boy was regularly irregular.
  • He has the strength of a thousand
  • How sweet the moon light sleeps.
  • O Earth ! What changes hast though seen.
  • Guns boomed in the battle field.
  • He can swim like a duck.
  • The Taj is a dream in marble.
  • The buzzing of innumerable bees.
  • Cowardly brave ! Yes that describes him truly.
  • The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the field.
  • Kashmir is paradise on earth.
  • O my country ! What changes hast thou seen.
  • The river of life goes on.
  • The tea is icy cold.
  • Opportunity knocks at the door but once.
  • We felt a pleasing pain at the time of parting.
  • We heard the hissing of snakes.
  • His heaps of gold made mountains look small.
  • The sun of Rome is set for ever.
  • There was sea of human heads on the
  • Sardar Patel was a pillar of strength.
  • Death lays his icy hands on kings.
  • This is an open secret.
  • Silence sealed his lips.
  • He is a silent orator.
  • Life ! I know not what thou art.
  • Even the sky shed tears at Gandhiji’s death.
  • A fleet of planes whirred above our heads.
  • Man is the cream of creation.
  • I beg a thousand pardons.
  • My country ! with all thy faults I love thee.
  • Experience is the best teacher.
  • They melt like mist, the solid lands.
  • It is a lame excuse.
  • Ding-Dong goes the bell.
  • O father in Heaven, help the children when they call.
  • His statement was falsely true.
  • His house looked like a lovely garden.
  • The sun with his great eye. Sees not so much as I.
  • Joy and sorrow are mingled in our life.
  • Columbus faced an angry ocean.
  • His words leapt like a leaping sword.
  • Sarojini Naidu was the Nightingale of India.
  • Break, break, break. On thy cold grey stones , O sea !
  • There honour comes a pilgrim gray. To bless the turf that wraps their clay.
  • It cracked and growled and roared howled.
  • O World ! O Life ! O Time !

On whose last steps I climb.

  • Glorious Rome has lost her crown.
  • And he rose with the dust all over him.

Like the golden image of a God.

  • He sneezed and clouds would break.
  • The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun.
  • That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
  • Hitler’s mad policy let loose the dogs of war.
  • The Himalayas wear a frowning look which threatens a storm.
  • The sky shrunk upward with unusual dread. And trembling Jamuna dived beneath its bed.
  • O Wild West Wind, breath of Autumn’s being !
  • In the sunset of his days Sir Winston Churchill was a pathetic figure.
  • The chair collapsed under the weight of the mountainous philosopher.
  • There is a dagger in thy words.
  • He saw within the moonlight in his room, An angel like a lily in bloom.
  • Rome, thou hast seen much better days !
  • And his breath was like a furnace throwing flames.
  • And his eyes spouted tears of blood.
  • He stood as a rock.
  • Mohan is the Hercules of his class.


(1)       Personification     (2) Simile

(3)       Onomatopoeia     (4) Apostrophe

(5)       Personification     (6) Oxymoron

(7)       Metaphor              (8) Hyperbole

(9)       Oxymoron             (10) Hyperbole

(11)     Simile                     (12) Oxymoron

(13)     Metaphor              (14) Simile

(15)     Apostrophe           (16) Metaphor

(17)     Oxymoron             (18) Hyperbole

(19)     Apostrophe           (20) Metaphor

(21)     Oxymoron             (22) Simile

(23)     Simile                    (24) Personification

(25)     Apostrophe           (26) Hyperbole

(27)     Onomatopoeia     (28) Simile

(29)     Oxymoron             (30) Simile

(31)     Personification     (32) Metaphor

(33)     Personification     (34) Metaphor

(35)     Simile                     (36) Oxymoron

(37)     Hyperbole             (38) Personification

(39)     Apostrophe           (40) Hyperbole

(41)     Simile                     (42) Metaphor

(43)     Onomatopoeia     (44) Apostrophe

(45)     Simile                     (46) Metaphor

(47)     Apostrophe           (48) Metaphor

(49)     Hyperbole             (50) Personification

(51)     Oxymoron             (52) Onomatopoeia

(53)     Hyperbole             (54) Metaphor

(55)     Hyperbole             (56) Metaphor

(57)     Personification     (58) Oxymoron

(59)     Personification     (60) Oxymoron

(61)     Apostrophe           (62) Hyperbole

(63)     Onomatopoeia     (64) Metaphor

(65)     Hyperbole             (66) Apostrophe

(67)     Personification     (68) Simile

(69)     Personification     (70) Onomatopoeia

(71)     Apostrophe           (72) Oxymoron

(73)     Simile                     (74) Personification

(75)     Oxymoron             (76) Personification

(77)     Simile                     (78) Metaphor

(79)     Apostrophe           (80) Personification

(81)     Onomatopoeia     (82) Apostrophe

(83)     Personification     (84) Simile

(85)     Hyperbole             (86) Metaphor

(87)     Oxymoron             (88) Metaphor

(89)     Personification     (90) Personification

(91)     Apostrophe           (92) Metaphor

(93)     Hyperbole             (94) Metaphor

(95)     Simile                     (96) Personification

(97)     Simile                     (98) Metaphor                                                                                                                                            (99)        Simile                  (100) Metaphor



  1. “The moon veiled her face” has ….. figure of speech.

(1) apostrophe                                 (2) personification

(3) metonymy                   (4) antithesis

  1. Onomatopoeia means

(1) use of words or words whose sound conveys the sense of the things signified

(2) repetition of the words of same sound or the repetition of  some letter of syllable

(3) All of the above

(4) None of the above

  1. “O solitude! Where are the charms?”

These lines have which figure of speech?

(1) Hyperbole                   (2) Alliteration

(3) Apostrophe                 (4) Simile

  1. Hyperbole means

(1) an understated statement

(2) a statement made emphatic by overstatement

(3) a statement combining two contrast qualities

(4) None of the above

  1. The lines “ O my love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June” contain which figure of speech?

(1) Personification           (2) Metaphor

(3) Simile                           (4) Apostrophe

  1. “The news was a dagger to his heart” these lines contain which figure of speech?

(1) Metaphor                    (2) Antitheses

(3) Euphemism                 (4) Oxymoron

  1. Name the figure of speech, “swiftly flies the feathered death”.

(1) Apostrophe                 (2) Simile

(3) Oxymoron                   (4) Metaphor

  1. Name the figure of speech, Sweet Thames! Run softly till I end my song.

(1) Personification           (2) Synecdoche

(3) Apostrophe                 (4) Irony

  1. An ‘Irony’ in figure of speech means

(1) In this mode of speech the real meaning of the stated

words is exactly the opposite of that which is literally


(2) an Irony consists in the use of a word in such a way that

it is capable of more than one application

(3) instrument of sarcasm

(4) None of the above

  1. Which figure of speech does the following line contain”

His honour rooted in dishonour stood.

(1) Epigram                        (2) Metaphor

(3) Irony                             (4) Oxymoron

  1. ‘Charity Suffereth long and is kind.’

Which figure of speech does this line contain?

(1) Metaphor                    (2) Simile

(3) Personification           (4) Hyperbole

  1. Brave Macbeth with his brandished steel carved out his passage. Which figure of speech does this line contain?

(1) Irony                             (2) Synecdoche

(3) Metonymy                   (4) Oxymoron


Previous Years’ Questions

Directions (Q. Nos. 13-14) Read the stanza given below and answer the questions that follow.

“Silence hath bound thee with her fatal chain; neglected, mute and desolate art thou, Like ruined monument on desert plain may be by mortal. Wakened once again harp of my country, let me strike the strain!”

  1. The life “like ruined monument on desert plain” is an example of

(1) simile                            (2) metaphor

(3) elegy                            (4) hyperbole

  1. Which one of the following phrase gives us an example of alliteration?

(1) Harp of my country   (2) Strike the strain

(3) With her fatal chain   (4) Desolate art thou

  1. Point out the figure of speech used in the following sentence.

Integrity is the backbone of character.

(1) Simile                           (2) Metaphor

(3) Apostrophe                 (4) Oxymoron

  1. Choose the correct figure of speech in the following sentence.

Fair is foul an foul is fair.

(1) Hyperbole                   (2) Oxymoron

(3) Metaphor                    (4) Simile

  1. Choose the correct figure of speech in the following sentence.

“The wind lies asleep in the arms of dawn.”

(1) Metaphor                    (2) Hyperbole

(3) Personification           (4) Oxymoron

  1. Point out figure of speech in the following sentence.

‘And having nothing he hath all’.

(1) Onomatopoeia           (2) Oxymoron

(3) Simile                           (4) Apostrophe

  1. Which of the following is an ‘Oxymoron’?

(1) Bright light                   (2) Cluster beans

(3) Deafening silence      (4) Misty eyed

  1. Point out the figure of speech in the following sentence.

‘Here’s the smell of the blood still, all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand’.

(1) Metaphor                    (2) Hyperbole

(3) Oxymoron                   (4) Personification




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