Figure Name exclamation
Source Hart (1874) 166-167; Bain (1867) 60 ("exclamation"); De Mille (1882) ("exclamation," "salutation"); Hill (1883); Waddy (1889); Jamieson (1844) 187; Raub (1888) 210; Blackwall (1718)
Earliest Source
Synonyms salutation
Type Chroma
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Exclamation is a figure akin to interrogation. Instead of stating a fact simply and calmly, the writer or speaker utters an expression of surprise, or of emotion of some kind, on seeing that the thing is so. Exclamation, therefore, is a figure which expresses a thing strongly by expressing emotion on account of it. (Hart)

2. "When from sudden and intense emotion, we give utterance to some abrupt, inverted, or elliptical expression, we are said to use an exclamation…. To comply with the full forms of ordinary speech demands a certain coolness and deliberation, the opposite of a state of sudden excitement. The Interjection is a species of exclamation. Most interjections have no meaning except as indicating sudden emotion…. The exclamation proper usually consists of words with meaning." (Bain)

Exclamation is a figure of very extended application. It is closely connected with the expression of the feelings, and many of the so-called figures of emotion are merely different kinds of exclamation. It is also a form of statement varied from the common order, so as to avoid monotony, or to attract attention. (De Mille)

4. (1) Exclamation.- Not every exclamation is a figure of speech. The expressions Oh! Alas! and the like are plain language, because they fail to fulfill the condition of figures, 'that one thing is expressed in the form of another.' (Hill)

5. Exclamation.- The occasions which justify the use of exclamation are comparatively rare, and writers should be correspondingly careful in resorting to it. The figure is suitable only in cases of real emotion, and when properly used it is of great value and power. (Waddy)

6. "Exclamations are the effect of strong emotions of the mind; such as surprise, admiration, joy, grief, and the like." (Jamieson)

7. "Exclamation is a figure by which a plain or simple fact is uttered with emotion. Not every exclamation, however, is a figure of speech. The interjections of the language are plain not figurative language, yet they are all exclamations. Exclamation is a figure only when what would otherwise be a plain declarative statement is expressed in an exclamatory and emotional form." (Raub)


1. "What a sad event!" (Hart)

1. "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" -Richard III (Hart)

1. "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!" - Hamlet (Hart)

1. "How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed!" -Jeremiah (Hart)

2. "as 'bravo,' 'dreadful,' 'the fellow,' what a pity!' … oh, bah, hurrah. The cheers, hisses, and groans called forth by a public speaker…." (Bain)

5. As for example:
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
How prayed I that my father's land might be an heritage for thee!
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear! (Waddy)

5. When one sits quite alone! Then one weeps, then one kneels!- God! how the house feels!(Waddy)

5. Hark! a glad voice the lonely desert cheers:
Prepare the way! a God, a God appears!(Waddy)

5. And yet was every faltering tongue of man,
Almighty Father! silent in they praise! (Waddy)

5. How sweet and soothing is this hour of calm! (Waddy)

6. "Turn with me, reader, turn thy mind back to the morning on which we heard it announced that her royal highness princess Charlotte of Saxe Cobourg was no more! Have you heard the news? Said every Briton to his friend. News? What news? The princess Charlotte's dead! Dead!" (Jamieson)

7. "[from Shakespeare's Hamlet] What a terrible crime! What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason ! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!" (Raub)

8. O unexpected Stroke, worse than of Death!
Must I thus leave thee, Paradise? Thus leave
Thee, native Soil; these happy Walks and Shades
Fit Haunt of Gods! - Milton (Blackwall)

Kind Of
Part Of
Related Figures interrogation, personification, apostrophe
Notes From Hart: Hymns, being mainly expressive of emotion, abound in exclamation beyond any other species of composition. - Fixed the numbering of Raub's example from 17 to 7. (Nayoung, Nov 7 2010)
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Nayoung Hong
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No