transferred epithet

Figure Name transferred epithet
Source Bain (1867) 45 ("transferred epithet"); Raub (1888) 220
Earliest Source
Type Chroma
Linguistic Domain Syntactic

1. "a common figure in poetry. The shifting of an epithet from its proper subject to some allied subject or circumstance…. Kindred ideas are thus brought closer together…." (Bain)

2. "Kames, in his Elements of Criticism, gives what he calls the 'transferred epithet,' a figure in which the attributes of one subject are extended to another with which it is connected. He also gives the following forms: 1. An attribute of the cause expressed as an attribute of the effect… 2. An attribute of the effect placed as an attribute of the cause… 3. The effect itself placed as an attribute of the cause… 4. an attribute of a subject given to the instrument… 5. a quality of the agent given to the instrument… 6. an attribute of the agent given to that upon which it operates… 7. a quality of one subject given to another… 8. A connected circumstance expressed as a quality of the subject." (Raub)


1. "'Hence to his idle bed.' 'He plods his weary way.' 'The ignorant fumes that mantle their dearer reason.' 'With easy eye thou mayest behold.' 'The little fields made green / by husbandry of many thrifty years.'" (Bain)

2. "[1.] An impious mortal gave the daring word…[2.] No wonder, fallen from such a pernicious height…[3.]Casting a dim religious light…[4.] To stoop with wearied wing and willing feet…[5.] He drew his coward sword… [6.] The high-climbing hill…[7.] He steers the fearless ship…[8.] 'Tis ours the chance of fighting fields to try." (Raub)

Kind Of Substitution
Part Of
Related Figures
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Mark Carter
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No