Figure Name emphasis
Source Quintilian 8.3.86 ; Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); JG Smith (1665) ("emphasis"); Garrett Epp (1994) ("significatio," "emphasis"); Ad Herennium (401-403); Vinsauf (1967) ("emphasis"); Vinsauf (1967) ("significatio" (implication, emphasis)); Peacham (1593); De Mille (1882); Hill (1883); Johnson (1903) ("emphasis")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms renforcer, significatio
Etymology from Gk. phainein, "to show"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Giving prominence to a quality or trait by conceiving it as constituting the very substance in which it inheres. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Efficacie of expression: a figure whereby a tacite vertue and efficacy of signification is given to words; &c. (JG Smith)

3. Insinuation and innuendo, often produced through ambiguity, analogy, or figures such as hyperbole. (Garrett Epp)

4. Emphasis the figure which leaves more to be
suspected than has been actually asserted. It is produced through Hyperbole, Ambiguity, Logical Consequence, Aposiopesis, and Analogy. (Ad Herennium)

5. If you wish to be brief, first prune away those devices mentioned above which contribute to an elaborate style; let the entire theme be confined within narrow limits. Compress it in accordance with the following formula. Let emphasis be spokesman, saying much in few words. (Vinsauf)

5. There are other figures to adorn the meaning of words. All of these I include in the following brief treatment: when meaning is adorned, this is standard procedure. ... ((17) significatio) I leave to suspicion more than I actually put into words. (Vinsauf)

6. Emphasis, is a forme of speech which signifieth that which it doth not expresse, the signification whereof, is understood either by the maner of the pronuntiation, or by the nature of the words themselves. By the prountiation thus: Darest thou presume to praise him? That is, (Indoctus peritiffimum) as much as to say: Is ignorance fit to commend learning, or folly meet to praise wisedome? (Peacham)

EMPHASIS in general means a certain stress placed upon words. Figures of emphasis include all those by which any given word or subject is presented before the mind with the greatest possible strength and energy. Words, phrases, and whole sentences may thus be emphasized.
Three general groups are included here:
1. Where direct stress is laid upon words.
2. Where emphasis is produced by a change in the order of words.
3. Where statements are made in a way which is unusual or startling. (De Mille)

8. (1). Emphasis. - Emphasis aims at the economy of interpreting power by making the emphatic word so prominent as to remove all doubt as to which it is meant to be. This is done by taking the emphatic word out of its natural place in the sentence, and putting it where it will be striking because of the novelty of its position. (Hill)

9. Where everything is emphasized nothing is emphatic. Occasionally it is necessary in conversation to lay special stress on some word or words, and in print it may even be necessary to put such a word in italics; but when we resort to sledge-hammer inflections, it argues either a lack of skill in the construction of our sentences or a lack of confidence in the intelligence of those whom we are addressing. In most cases the emphasis may be indicated by the words chosen and their arrangement in the sentence. The differences in the arrangement relate largely to the placing of adverbs and prepositions. When a preposition is connected with a verb of which it is virtually a part, it should not be separated from the verb except when the emphasis is on the preposition. (Johnson, 93)


3. But were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny. (JC 3.2 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

4. " Out of so great a patrimony, in so short a time, this man has not laid by even an earthen pitcher wherewith to seek a fire for himself." (Ad Herennium)

4. " Just look out, you, who look out for yourself so profitably." (Ad Herennium)

4. "Quiet, you, whose father used to wipe his nose with his forearm." (Ad Herennium)

4. " He who so handsome and so young, recently at a stranger's house—I am unwilling to say more." (Ad Herennium)

6. Another: Wilt thou beleeve a Cretian? whereby is signified, not simply a man borne in Crete, but any other dissembler, after the nature and disposition of that nation. (Peacham)

6. An example of holy Job: “I will say to corruption thou art my father, and to the worme thou art my mother and my sister.” Job 17.14. By which saying, Job signifieth that his hope in father and mother, in sister, and in all worldly matters should cease, & that the wormes of the grave should be in their stead. (Peacham)

6. Another example in the answer of Achab to Benadab king of Syria. “Tel him (saith he) Let not him that putteth on his harnesse boast himselfe, as be that putteth it off” 1. Reg 10.11.: signifying hereby, how litle he feared Benadabs threatening, and how much he despised his arrogant and rash presumption: and that there were as great cause why Benadab should feare to be vanquished, as hope to win the victorie. (Peacham)

6. Another of Esay: “They shall break their swords into mattocks, and their speares to make sithes.” Esay 2.4. By this saying the Prophet signifieth the sweet peace that should come with Christ. (Peacham)

6. Salomon useth an excellent Empasis, where he giveth us warning that we should not speake or thinke evill of the king in our privie chamber. For saith he: “A bird of the aire shall betraie thy voice, and with her feather shal she bewray thy words.” Eccle.10.19. (Peacham)

5. ((17) significatio) Only a people perverse scoffed at the dying God; their subsequent history bears the shame. Treacherous race! Stiff-necked generation! Learn to soften that heart so hardened; remember the fearful destruction of cruel Pharoah. (Vinsauf)

8. It would be natural to say, "The mystery of godliness is great;" but, since "great" is the emphatic word, it may be put first, and all can see that emphasis is increased by the form, "Great is the mystery of godliness." (Hill)

9. Emphasis.—It is the privilege of the schoolgirl to underscore many words in her essay or letter, because that kind of writing usually corresponds to her conversation and most accurately represents herself. She seldom says to her companions, with a dignified evenness of tone, trusting for emphasis to the significance of the words, "That is the worst problem that I ever have been required to
solve." She says, " That is the very worst problem that I EVER have been required to solve." And at the word "ever" the strain upon her throat is apparent. So long as she speaks thus, she may be excused for writing in the same way. But when she has learned to trust her hearers for a knowledge of the meaning of words and the significance of their arrangement jn a sentence, she may save her breath and her underscores, and convey her meaning quite as clearly and much more agreeably. (Johnson, 92-93)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures hyperbole, sarcasmus, figures of abbreviation
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No