Hege Library & Learning Technologies

Guilford College Writing Manual

This is the official Guilford College Writing Manual. A collaboration between the English Department and the Hege Library.


  1. Metaphor: implied comparison

    Television has become a vast electronic desert dotted only by a tiny, occasional oasis.

    Birmingham lighted a runaway fuse, and as fast as the headlines could record them, demonstrations exploded all over the country

  2. Simile: expressed comparison

    He had a posture like a question mark.

    Her prose is like a well-tended garden.

  3. Synecdoche: a part stands for the whole or vice versa

    Give us this day our daily bread.

    I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

    --Winston Churchill

    Capital has learned to sit down and talk with labor.

    --George Meany

  4. Puns: playing meaning against meaning in one word

    If we don't hang together, we'll hang separately.

    --Benjamin Franklin

    Your argument is sound, nothing but sound.

  5. Metonomy: using proper names for a quality or vice versa; using cause for effect or vice versa

    Elvis Presley sideburns.

    She may not have been a Penelope.

    They do not escape Jim Crow; they merely encounter another, not less deadly variety.

    --James Baldwin

  6. Personification: making inanimate things seem animate.

    The ground thirsts for rain.

    Mother Tongue is a self-reliant female.

    . . . the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

    Rubbing its back upon the window panes.

    --T.S. Eliot

  7. Hyperbole: exaggeration for emphasis

    Her eloquence splits rocks.

    I can't move: my left leg weighs three tons.

  8. Understatement: diminution for emphasis (also known as litotes)

    Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance.

    --Jonathan Swift

    It isn't very serious. I have this tiny, little tumor on the brain.

    --J.D. Salinger

  9. Rhetorical question: a question indicating its answer

    How can the poor feel they have a stake in a system which says that the rich may have due process but the poor may not?

  10. Irony: conveying a meaning opposite to the literal meaning of the word

    By spring, if God was good, all the proud privileges of trench lice, mustard gas, spattered brains, punctured lungs, ripped guts, asphyxiation, mud, and gangrene, might be his.

    --Thomas Wolfe

  11. Onomatopoeia: sound of word echoes its sense

    Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far.

    --G.K. Chesterton

    My days have crackled and gone up in smoke.

    --Francis Thompson

  12. Oxymoron: using contradictory terms together

    idle trade, sweet pain of love, thunderous silence, make haste slowly, luxurious poverty, cold fire