Figure Name syllogismus
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Cicero De Inv. 1.34; Quintilian 5.14.24; JG Smith (1665) ("syllogismus"); Peacham 1593; Bullinger (1898)
Earliest Source None
Synonyms syllogismos, omission of the conclusion
Etymology from syn, "together" and logos, "reasoning"; and from logizesthai "to reckon"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. The use of a remark or an image which calls upon the audience to draw an obvious conclusion. Like a rhetorical enthymeme, but more compact, and frequently relying on an image. Not to be confused with the "syllogism" of formal logic (see enthymeme). (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A reasoning, or rather a conclusion, which is made by reasoning together in argument: a Rhetorical syllogism is a form of speech whereby the matter is amplified by conjecture, that is, by expressing some signs or circumstances thereof, &c. A Logical syllogism is a perfect argument consisting of three parts, viz. Major, Minor, end Conclusion, whereby something is necessarily proved.; SYLLOGISMVS, Ratiocinatio, collectio quae ratiocinando fit; reasoning, a conclusion which is made by reasoning together in argument; derived from [syllogizomai] ratiocinatione colligo, to conclude by reasoning. A Rhetorical syllogism is also by the Grecians called Epichirema, argumentum, quo aliquid probari, illustrari, & argui potest: An argument whereby any thing may be proved, illustrated and reasoned. A Rhetorical Syllogism is a form of speech, whereby the speaker amplyfieth a matter by conjecture,that is, by expressing some signs or circumstances of a matter; which circumstances are of three sorts, either going before it, annexed with, or following after it.
A Logical Syllogism is a perfect argument consisting of three parts, inferring a necessary conclusion; or whereby something is necessarily proved. The first part of a Syllogism is called, the Proposition or Major, whereby the consequent of the question, or the conclusion is at least disposed with the argument. The second, the Assumption or Minor; and this is affirmed from the proposition. The third, the conclusion, this embraceth the part of the question and concludes it.(JG Smith)

3. Syllogismus, is a forme of speech by which the Orator amplifieth a matter by conjecture, that is, by expressing some signes or circumstances of a matter, which circumstances be of three sorts, either going before it, annexed with it, or following after it. (Peacham)

4. The regular form of every argument consists of three propositions of which the first two are called "premisses" (the first being the major, and the latter being the minor), while the last, which necessarily follows from them, is called the "conclusion." But the term Syllogismus is given to this figure because it is departure from this rule, the law of logic being legitimately broken for the sake of emphasis. (Bullinger, 175)


1. Look at that man's yellowed fingertips and you just tell me if he's a smoker or not.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. —Luke 7:44-46
In the preceding example, the obvious conclusion to be drawn (which remains unstated) is "how much more does she love me than you do". (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. (1) As to Circumstances going before the matter: 1 Kings 17.1. As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Here by the great drought, Elisha signifies the great famine and dearth which should be brought by it.
(2) As to circumstances annexed with the matter: 1 Sam. 17.6, 7. The huge statute and great strength of Goliah is signified by the weight of his brigandine and spears head, and by the monstrous bignesse of his spear staffe, compared to a weavers beam.
(3) As to circumstances following after the matter: 2 Sam. 18.33. There Davids sorrowful bewailing of his son Absoloms death is described: whereby may be collected how dearly he loved his son, notwithstanding his evill inclinations. (JG Smith)

2. * Major, 1. Every vertue is honorable;
* Minor, 2. Patience is a vertue;
* Conclusion, 3. Therefore patience is honourable.

* Every just thing is profitable;
* Every honest thing is just;
* Every honest thing therefore is profitable.

* Every rationable creature is sensible;
* But every man is rationable creature;
* Therefore every man is sensible. (JG Smith)

3. Circumstances going before. An example of the holy scriptures: “As the Lord God liveth before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor raine these yeares, but according to my word.” 1. Reg. 17. 1. Here by the great drought, Elias signifieth the great hunger and dearth following the drought.

“Seven daies hence will I cause it to raine upon the earth fortie daies and fortie nights” Gen.7.4., wherby the Lord gave to understand what a mightie floud should follow. (Peacham)

3. Circumstances annexed: Virgill speaking of Poliphemus, saith he held a pine tree in his hand to stay himselfe, and walked through the sea: by this we conjecture what a great bodie he had.

The huge stature and great strength of Goliath is signified by the weight of his brigandine & speare head, and by the monstrous bignesse of his speare staffe compared to a weavers beame.

“Foelix trembled” Act.14.16., which did plainly betoken his inward horror, at the hearing of Gods judgements.

“And he went forth and wept bitterly” Mat.26.75.: By Peters bitter weeping, we gather how effectually he was touched with repentance by the motion of Gods spirit. (Peacham)

3. Circumstances following after: David is described sorrowfully bewailing the death of his sonne Absolon, by which is collected how dearly he loved him, notwithstanding his evil inclination. (Peacham)

4. "And in that day seven woman shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." -Isa. 4:1 This is the continuation and conclusion of chap. 3: in which, from verse 18, the punishment of the pride of the "daughters of Zion" is set forth: but it is left for us to draw the solemn conclusion, How great must be the desolation:- the gates, where the husbands of the daughters of Zion used to assemble, now mourn and are deserted; (3:26, Jer. 14:2, Lam. 1:4)- and the women whom many men did woo now come and offer themselves to one man, renouncing the legal claim of the wife (Ex. 21:10). (Bullinger, 175-6)

Kind Of Omission
Part Of
Related Figures enthymeme, figures of reasoning
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No