Figure Name horismus
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Ad Herennium 4.25.35 ("definitio"); Sherry (1550) 58 ("orismus," "definicio," "definition"); Putt. (1589) 239 ("orismus," "definer of difference"); Day 1599 97 ("orismus," "definitio," finitio") ; JG Smith (1665) ("horismos"); Garrett Epp (1994) ("definitio," "horismus"); Peacham 1593; Vinsauf (1967) ("definitio"); De Mille (1882) ("definitions"); Hill (1883) ("definition"); Blount (1653) 39 ("definition"); Bullinger (1898) ("horismos; or, definition")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms orismus, definitio, finitio, definer of difference, definition, horysmos, definitions, genus, differentia, horismos
Etymology Gk. horismos "boundary" ("definition") from horizo "to divide," "mark out," "settle," "define"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Providing a clear, brief definition, especially by explaining differences between associated terms. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Definition: a figure whereby we declare what a thing is, and is usually when we distinguish between two words by defining both of them, &c.; Horismos, Definitio, Definition, or an expresse declaring what a thing or the nature thereof is; derived from [horizo] definio, to define, or make a plain description of a thing. A figure whereby we declare what a thing is, or delineate the nature of it; and it is often used when we would shew a difference between two words: namely by defining both. (JG Smith)

3. A brief and pointed summary of the characteristic quality of a person or thing. (Garrett Epp)

4. Horysmos is a forme of speech by which the Orator declareth the proper pith of some thing, and it is chiefly used, when there is a difference sought for between two words, which by defining, this findeth foorth. (Peacham)

5. If a mode of expression both easy and adorned is desired, set aside all the techniques of the dignified style and have recourse to means that are simple, but of a simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness. Here are the rhetorical colours with which to adorn your style: (Vinsauf)

3. Definitions. A definitions is the statement of the meaning of a word. (De Mille)

6. There are various modes of definition.
1st. The formal definition in set terms, such as those that are found in dictionaries and scientific works.
2d. Definition by contrast, as when heat is defined as the absence of cold, or darkness as the absence of life, or sing as the absence of holiness.
3d. Definition by example or illustration. (De Mille)

7. 2. Nature of a Definition.
The exposition of the comprehension of a notion is its logical definition. Thus, in the notion 'man' there are two constituent notions, the first including the attributes of the notion 'animal,' the second including the attributes of the notion 'rational.' These constituent nations, 'animal' and 'rational,' may in turn be resolved in like manner into more elementary notions, and so on until those notions are so elementary as to satisfy the mind. In each of these processes of resolution we have one constituent notion which 'includes' the notion define. This is called the 'genus.' The other constituent notion 'distinguishes' the notion defined from the genus, and is called the 'differentia." A definition is, therefore, a division of a general notion according to its attributes. It follows that a simple notion, which can be referred to no genus, cannot be defined. Thus 'being,' the highest genus known to the mind, is indefinable. (Hill)

8. "Next follows Definition, which is the shortest and truest exposition of the nature of any thing" (Blount)

9. A Definition of Terms... It is a figure by which the meaning of terms is defined and fixed, briefly and precisely: the definition of terms, so important in all kinds argumentation. (Bullinger, 467)


1. Truth is a knowledge of things as they are, as they have been, and as they will be. (Silva Rhetoricae)

Beauty is nothing but a transitory charm, an illusion of senses, a slave of pleasure; a flower which has but a moment of life; a dial, on which we neer look, but while the sun shines on it: it is a dunghill covered with snow; a glass painted with false colors. --John Smith

3. Poverte is a hateful good and, as I gesse,

A ful greet bryngere out of bisynesse;

A greet amendere eek of sapience

To hym that taketh it in pacience. (WBT 1195 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

2. Godlinesse is the exact care of a Christian, to worship God in the spirit according to the dictates of his will, with all sincerity.

He that subverts the Laws, and infringes the peoples liberties, is a Tyrant.

Fear is an apprehension of future harm.

In way of Gradation: To refuse good counsel is folly; to contemn it, wickednesse: to scorn it, madnesse. (JG Smith)

4. An example: This is not fortitude but temeritie, for fortitude is a contempt of perils by honest reason: temeritie is a foolish enterprise of perils, without respect of vertue. (Peacham)

4. Cicero for Marcus Marcellus: for neither is this to be counted thy life, which is contained in thy bodie and breath, but that is thy life (O Caesar I say) which shall live and floorish in memorie unto the worldes end, which posteritie shal nourish, which eternitie shall ever behold. (Peacham)

4. Glorious victorie consisteth not in slaying of poore people, as women, children, and impotent persons, which hunger and famine, wherein resteth neither fortitude, prudence, nor pollicie, but in subduing of couragious Captaines, overcomming of valiant souldiers, and winning of strong and mightie Cities. To this distinction, a lyke answer is made, a glorious victorie consisteth not so much in crueltie as in humanitie, not so much in shedding of blood, as in shewing of mercy. Fire doth consume, & the sword doth devour, but famine by litle and litle maketh tame the most puissant nations and stoutest people of the world. (Peacham)

5. For his might is a virtue almighty, and his is the power to do all things by a nod or a word or simply by willing. (Vinsauf)

8. "the general definition o vertue is this, VIRTUS EST HABITUS RATIONI CONSENTANEUS. Virtue is a quality seated in Reason." (Blount)

Kind Of Identity
Part Of
Related Figures circumlocution, systrophe
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No