Tropes and Figures of Speech in Athletics

Classified in English

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Anaphora (Repetition of Same Group of Words at Beginning of Clauses)

Exercise builds stamina in young children; exercise builds stamina in teenagers and young adults, exercise builds stamina in older adults and senior citizens.

Epistrophe (Repetition of Same Group of Words at End of Successive Clauses)

To become a top-notch player, I thought like an athlete, I trained like an athlete, I ate like an athlete.

Anadiplosis (Repetition of Last Word of One Clause at the Beginning of Following Clause)

Mental preparation leads to training, training builds muscle tone and coordination; muscle tone and coordination, combined with focused thinking, produce athletic excellence.

Climax (Repetition of Words, Phrases, or Clauses in Order of Increasing Number or Importance)

Excellent athletes need to be respectful of themselves, their teammates, their schools, and their communities.

Tropes Involving Comparison

Metaphor and Simile

An athlete’s mind must be like a well-tuned engine, in gear and responding to the twists and curves of the contest. (This sentence begins with a simile and ends with an implied metaphor.)

Synecdoche (A Part of Something Used to Refer to the Whole)

We decided we could rearrange the gym equipment if everyone would lend a hand.

Metonymy (An Entity Referred to by One of Its Attributes)

The central office announced today new regulations for sports nights.


Tropes Involving Word Play

Pun (Used to Attract Reader’s Attention)

A horse is a very stable animal.

Anthimeria (One Part of Speech, Usually a Verb, Substitutes for a Noun)

When the Little Leaguers lost the championship, they needed just to have a good cry before they could feel okay about their season.


The puck whizzed and zipped over the ice, then clattered into the goal.

Tropes Involving Overstatement or Understatement


He couldn’t make that shot again if he tried a million times.

Tropes Involving the Management of Meaning

Irony (Words Meant to Convey the Opposite of Literal Meaning)

I posted a video on YouTube about how boring and useless YouTube is.

Sarcasm (Bitter Irony)

Thanks for everything you did for us tonight (when he really did nothing).

Oxymoron (Words with Contradictory Meaning Placed Side-by-Side)

When you have to face your best friend in competition, whoever wins feels an aching pleasure.

Rhetorical Question (Question Designed Not to Secure an Answer but to Move the Idea Forward and Suggest a Point)

Hasn’t the state of intercollegiate athletics reached the point where the line between professionalism and amateurism is blurred?

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