Why is alliteration effective

Stylistic devices ~ definition & examples

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You will come across stylistic devices again and again in your school and study career. Regardless of whether it is analyzing literary classics or writing your own texts - knowing the most common stylistic devices is always an advantage.

The most important stylistic devices and their explanations can be found in this post.

frequently asked Questions

Stylistic devices can make a speech livelier, texts more entertaining or generally increase the impact of a text.

Stylistic devices convey linguistic competence to your counterpart, for example the reader of your work. But there are some stylistic devices that you can rely on with his scientific work should refrain, such as B. duplications, unnecessary abbreviations or adjectives that are used to decorate them.

Some of the most important Stylistic devices at a glance:

  • alliteration
  • euphemism
  • hyperbole
  • metaphor
  • oxymoron
  • Paradox
  • parenthesis
  • Rhetorical question

You can find more stylistic devices in our article!

Definition: stylistic devices

In the Duden, the term stylistic device is defined as "a style characterizing means of expression" and is mainly used in art, music and linguistics. Stylistic devices are an expression of the style of a text and therefore categories and research subjects of stylistics.

The stylistics is defined as "the study of the design of linguistic expression, of the style" (Duden stylistics 03/11/2019). Style is explored using the formula: "Style = language + x" (Sanders 1988). The x stands for the stylistic devices to be explored. These stylistic devices can take different forms. There is often talk of linguistic stylistic devices here.

Overview for download

In the following you will find an extensive list of various stylistic devices with explanations and examples. You can download the PDF and use it as a memo.

The overview of stylistic devices in PDF format can be downloaded here.

To the PDF download

Here is a selection of the most important stylistic devices at a glance:

Stylistic devicesexampleExplanation
accumulation1“Now all forests are at rest, cattle; People, cities and fields. "Accumulation of words without mentioning a generic term
alliteration2Over hill and dale, man and mouse, by night and fogSame first letter in consecutive words
Anacoluth3"It often happens that the friendlier you are, only ingratitude comes to you."The grammatical structure of the beginning and end of a sentence does not match.
euphemism1"Passing away" instead of "dying"Extenuation; Obfuscation
hyperbole2Exulting heavily, saddened to deathExaggeration to make something clear
do, e.g. T. to expose
metaphor2Devour books = very much
read; he is a raven father =
bad father
Pictorial expression with
figurative meaning, can not
to be taken literally
neologism2Delicious as a sugar treat;
jumbled up
Word creation
oxymoron1Putting opposites together
old boy, bitter sweetness, eloquent
remain silent
Paradox3“Whoever wants to win his life, he
it will lose. "(Matth. 10.39)
“It's strange how little im
The whole upbringing - spoiled. "
“Life is death and death
Death is life. "
One apparently at first
absurd assertion, but that
on closer inspection to a
indicates higher truth.
parenthesis1I want you - I calm myself
briefly - report on the incident.
Rhetorical question3"Who still believes that?"
"Aren't we men?"
Apparent question because none
Answer is expected. You amplified
the urgency of the statement.
symbol1"Magic word" in Eichendoffs
Poem divining rod; "Sun" for
"God"; "Water" for "Life"
“A sensually given and
tangible, vivid symbol that
beyond yourself ... to one
higher, abstract realm
refers "(Wilpert)


1Winkler, Werner. 2011. Abitur knowledge German: Examination knowledge upper level. Freising: Strong.

2Achhammer & Gebhardt (eds.). 1997. German training. Freising: Strong.

3Mettenleiter, Peter & Stephan Knöbl (eds.). 1991. Blickfeld German. Paderborn: Ferdinand


In addition to the stylistic devices shown, many of which can also be described as rhetorical devices, there are also those that deviate from the classic versions, such as: B.

  • Youth language and similar language developments, also dialect and colloquial language
  • Foreign language words
  • Language and word games
  • High value and key words
  • Part of speech distribution (cf. Janich 2009: 2180)

Even if these are not the usual stylistic devices, they have an impact on the style of a medium and should be taken into account when writing your own texts as well as when analyzing the text.

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Stylistic basics

Linguistics divides stylistic devices into two areas. The rhetorical means (Tropics and figures) and the lyrical means (metrics, rhyme scheme, rhythm through syllables and separation).

Breastfeeding means can be broken down into content level and expression level. How you can recognize stylistic devices of these categories in the text can be seen in the following table (cf.Nöth 2009: 1188)

Stylistic devices onshape
AdditionContent levelHyperbolas, pleonasms, particularizing synecdoches (pars pro toto, e.g. head for thinkers
Level of expressionAlliteration, rhymes, reduplication
omissionLevel of expressionElisions, syncopations, ellipses
Content levelSimile, generalizing synecdoche (totum pro parte; e.g. USA for athletes from the USA)

Tip: When analyzing stylistic devices, you should work your way from the smallest to the largest part of the text. This means that "we gradually rise from the words to the sentence, to the structure of periods to the overall character of the speech, until we reach the summit in the individual style ..." (Meyer 2017: 5).

Figures & tropics

Stylistic devices from the field of rhetoric can be further subdivided into tropes and figures.

definitionForm as a stylistic device
characters"Figures (in the narrower sense) are stylistic devices that relate to the arrangement of language signs on the expressive level of language" (Nöth 2009: 1180). So “unadorned language should be artistically changed” (Bradtke 2016).Rearrangements, additions, repetitions or deletions of syllables, sounds, morphemes or words, e.g. B. in the form of anaphor, rhyme, geminatio, alliteration, metathesis, anadiplosis or chiasmus. (Nöth 2009: 1180)
TropicsA single word that is swapped with another word or phrase “that corresponds to a related conceptual area” (Bradtke 2016). So tropes are stylistic devices that relate to the content instead of the form of a word (cf.Nöth 2009: 1180)Litotes, metonymy, metaphor, oxymoron (cf.Nöth 2009: 1180)

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Lyrical means

Stylistic devices can also be used as lyrical devices. They are divided into rhyme scheme, rhythm and metric and are mostly used in poems. Attention should also be paid to the arrangement of stanzas and verses.

Time signature or meterRhyme schemerhythm
Anapest: xx X (Emphasis on the third syllable, e.g. ignorant, mess)Inside rhyme: Rhyme of the last word in the verse with a word from within.Timbre (e.g. dark / light vowels, hard / soft consonants)
Trochee:Xx (stress on the first syllable, e.g. life, rose)Opening rhyme: The first words of two lines rhyme.Break
Iambus: xX (Emphasis on the second syllable, e.g. taught, prohibition)End rhyme: Consistency of words from the last stressed vowel onwards. Divided into: pile rhyme (aaaa, bbbb), pair rhyme (aa, bb), embracing rhyme (abba), cross rhyme (abab), tail rhyme (aa, b cc b), refrainaccent (Sentence / word emphasis)
Dactyl:Xxx (emphasis on the first of three syllables, e.g. queen, newbies)Cadence: Metric form of the clasp, can be monosyllabic (embers - flood), two-syllable (distant - stars) or three-syllable (mortal - perishable). tempo
Rhyme: Two consecutive words in a verse rhyme

(adapted from Mettenleiter & Knöbl 1991: 26f.)

Stylistic devices & scientific work

Stylistic devices can be used in all kinds of texts, but they are not a must. However, they are not welcomed in scientific work, especially if they embellish or poetize the work too much. A scientific work must always be kept factual.

Stylistic devices are less suitable for writing scientific papers like the bachelor thesis or master thesis. But they become important again when you have to analyze or interpret texts. They are also useful for lectures, presentations or if you have your own colloquium hold.

Not advisable as a stylistic deviceUse instead
Too many abbreviations and fashion anglicisms• Only words that are used in the German vocabulary (cf. Kornmeier 2013: 227)
Long, convoluted and overly complicated sentencesShort, concise sentences
Pleonasms (white mold, new innovation), tautologies (already, as well) (cf. Wagner 2012: 186)Choose the most suitable term for the situation (see Wagner 2012: 18; also Krämer 2009: 104)
Fashion words z. B. as part of gendered language -> studentsInstead, opt for the male or female variant or choose a neutral shape, e.g. B. Students
Fillers, exaggerations, fearful words (see Rossig & Prätsch 2005: 143-45)• Clear statements
• Short and precise sentences
• Do not generalize, but state facts and figures (cf. Rossig & Prätsch 2005: 143 - 45)

If you want to know more about how to get into a bachelor thesis should formulate or what actually scientific writing is, then you can find out more in this post:


  • Stylistic devices can be divided into the two categories of addition and deletion, which in turn are split into the content level and the expression level.
  • They are used in art, linguistics and music and characterize the style of a medium
  • In contrast to rhetorical means, stylistic devices are used more in the written language. The focus is on the design of the language and not on its intention. Despite this distinction, stylistic devices and rhetorical devices are often used synonymously.
  • In scientific work you should avoid the following stylistic devices: duplications, unnecessary abbreviations, adjectives that adorn you, unnecessarily complicated terms, fashionable artificial words and anglicisms.


Achhammer & Gebhardt (eds.). 1997. German training. Freising: Strong.

Bradtke, Michael. 2016.Latin stylistic devices: Reclam's Red Series - foreign language texts. Stuttgart: Reclam.

Dudenverlag: "Stylistics", in: Duden website, URL: https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Stilistik, accessed on March 11, 2019.

Dudenverlag: "Stilmittel", in: Duden website, URL: https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Stilmittel, accessed on March 11, 2019.

Janich, Nina. 2009: "Rhetorical-stylistic properties of the language of advertising and public relations", in: Ulla Fix, Andreas Gardt, Joachim Knape (eds.), Rhetoric and stylistics. Volume 2. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin.

Kornmeier, Martin. 2013.Scientific writing made easy - for bachelor, master and dissertations. 6th ed. Bern: Haupt.

Kramer, Walter. 2009.How do I write a term paper or thesis? 3rd edition Frankfurt: Campus.

Mettenleiter, Peter & Stephan Knöbl (eds.). 1991. Blickfeld German. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.

Meyer, Richard M. 2017 (1906).German stylistics. Nicosia: Verone.

Noth, Winfried. 2009: "Style as a sign", in: Ulla Fix, Andreas Gardt, Joachim Knape (eds.), Rhetoric and stylistics. Volume 2. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin.

Rossig, Wolfram E. & Joachim Prätsch. 2005.Scientific work. 5th edition. Weyhe: PRINT-TEC.

Sanders. 1988: “Style and language efficiency. At the same time a note on today's style ”, in: J. Dyck et al. (Ed.), Rhetoric. An international yearbook. Tübingen, 63-77.

Wagner, Lothar. 2012.The scientific thesis - guide for effective working methods and content design. 3rd edition SaarbrĂĽcken: SĂĽdwestdeutscher Verlag fĂĽr Hochschulschriften.

Winkler, Werner. 2011. Abitur knowledge German: Examination knowledge upper level. Freising: Strong.

About the author

Jessica Mizler

Jessica Mizler (M. A.) submitted her master's thesis herself not long ago and is therefore up to date when it comes to scientific work. She studied American studies and philosophy at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Mizler used the topics of cultural and literary studies and the intensive efforts with Sartre, Kant and Hegel as a basis to write guidelines on the creation of scientific papers and thus pass on her experiences to students at BachelorPrint.