Figure Name effictio
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Ad Herennium 4.49.63 ; Garrett Epp (1994) ("effictio," "karakterismos"); Ad Herennium ("portrayal") (387); Vinsauf (1967) ("effictio"); Bullinger (1898) ("effictio; or, word-portrait")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms blazon, portrayal, word-portrait, karakterismos
Etymology from L. effingo, "to form," "fashion artistically," "to portray"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. A verbal depiction of someone's body, often from head to toe.
(Note: This figure was used in forensic rhetoric for purposes of clearly identifying an alleged criminal. It has often been adapted to poetical uses.) (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. The representation of physical appearance. (Garrett Epp)

3. Portrayal consists in representing and depicting in words clearly enough for recognition the bodily form of some person. This figure is not only serviceable, if you should wish to designate some person, but also graceful, if fashioned with brevity and clarity. (Ad Herennium)

4. 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. ... ((13) effictio (portrayal)) Or there is a figure allied to this last one, whereby I depict or represent corporeal appearance, in so far as is requisite. (Vinsauf)

5. [see Etymology]... Hence, the name is given to the figure when a picture is given in words, and the features, etc., are delineated and described. (Bullinger, 469)


1. I mean that man, he with the white hair, the crazed look in his eye, the huge scar across his chin, the lame left leg, and feet too large for any shoes... (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. His face is all bubukles and whelks, and knobs, and flames o' fire, and his lips plows at his nose, and it is like a coal of fire.... (H5 3.6 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

3. " I mean him, men of the jury, the ruddy, short, bent man, with white and rather curly hair, blue-grey eyes, and a huge scar on his chin, if perhaps you can recall him to memory." (Ad Herennium)

4. ((13) effictio (portrayal)) He is, indeed, of two natures. Free of all blemish, somewhat ruddy of countenance, pleasant to view, paragon of angels, a form beautiful above the forms of men, special image of the Father; he, the second Adam, who opened for us the gates of life with the key of his death. (Vinsauf)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures Figures of Description: icon (A figure which paints the likeness of a person by imagery.), ethopoeia (A description of one's manners or habits), characterismus (A description of one's character.)
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No