Figures of speech in college football
Malamute, 26 February 2008
football writers of America it is time to dust off your figures of
speech, for spring football lies just ahead. You need to practice your
writing skills before the kids practice their offensive and defensive
skills – say, their drive blocks and swim moves.
I’m here to help you.
As every writer knows, a “trope” is a word or expression used in a
figurative sense, such as a simile or metaphor. Schemes are figures of
speech in which there is a deviation from the ordinary or expected
pattern of words.
Hey, you know what chiasmus means, don’t you? Well, I didn’t. Let me
say, though, a chiasmus should be part of your new playbook, my friend,
the old A B B A play, which runs counter to the parallel-structure play
(A B A B) you learned in high school.
Well, here are some examples of tropes and schemes that relate to the
Washington Huskies next season, all relevant to their past, present and
future. The definitions are taken from Wikipedia, the free on-line
encyclopedia, and the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
So, if your editor wants you to mix things up, to run a chiasmus, an
anaphora, and a zeugma the next time you cover the field, you’ll be
of a word at the end of a clause at the beginning of another.”
Example: Under Jim Owens, playing tough defense meant hard hitting. Hard
hitting meant getting someone hurt. Getting hurt was not allowed.
repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of
Example: As offensive coordinator Tim Lappano might say, “block the
linebackers, block the ends; block what’s left as this season wends.”
<Editor's note: comically poetic. IOW, stupid.>
“Inversion of the usual word order.”
Example: Comes alive the Husky crowd, as our defense sacks the
quarterback. Comes alive the Husky offense, as field position holds
sway. (The crowd comes or came alive.)
Repetition of words in successive clauses, in reverse order.
Example: Coach Hart likes the front four; our front four likes coach
An elliptical antimetabole: Coach Hart likes his front four, and vice
Antanaclasis is a form of a pun in which a word is repeated in
two different senses.”
Example: The Huskies’ defense must strike with malice, lest boosters go
A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion, an adage
Example: A good defense trumps a good offense, and vice versa.
When Ta’amu is ready to jump in the water, Middleton should swim beside
“Drawing attention to something while pretending to pass it over.”
Example: Coach Willingham should win six games this season, not to
mention that he is on the hot seat.
(e.g., use of noun as if it were a verb.)
Example: Out field-positioning the opposition was critical to the win.
The PSA tripped to Seattle.
(e.g, a word created because of a new situation)
Example: A Tyrone-ism is just a truism couched laconically.
is a euphemism to soften the force of a naming a vice or virtue.
Example: According to the media, some members of Washington’s last Rose
Bowl team acted like Robin Hood’s band of men off the field, they were
Giving inanimate objects human feelings.
Example: Husky Stadium will laugh at Charlie Weis on October 25, as
Tyrone exacts revenge against the Irish.
is a figure of speech
describing the joining of two or more parts of a sentence with a single
common verb or noun.
Against BYU, Jake Locker will adroitly lead the Huskies on the field and
to a locker room celebration afterwards.
in one form, means the viewing of human behavior in terms of the
behavior of animals.
Example: Against the Bruins, Jake at the lake will play with the heart
of a lion.
H. Abrams defined allusion as "a brief reference, explicit or indirect,
to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage."
Rick Neuheisel’s return to Husky Stadium will be a Catch-22. (A
no win situation)
Some say that Art Thiel’s view of refurbishing Husky Stadium is a
Cassandra. (Cassandra was
a “daughter of Priam endowed with the gift of prophecy but fated never
to be believed.”)
is the use of three words to express one idea.
Example: A concise, pithy, terse Tyrone spoke to the media after the win
In one sense of the word, paradox is a “statement or sentiment that is
seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet perhaps true
Completing more passes than before could mean less passing yardage this
season if short passes hold sway.
Use of a word or words in a way that conveys a meaning opposite to its literal
meaning, or “the
incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the
normal or expected result.”
Winning to some football fans means keeping the police blotter clean.
The trap block sprung the back.
Although they were not central to the story’s theme, the
levying of unsubstantiated criminal charges against at least 20 unnamed players
and the pillorying of a fallen hero both became the story.
comical use of a word through confusion with a word that sounds
similar.” You dunderheads need to avoid malapropisms.
The running back crossed the goal line giving “his manly” pose. (Heisman
The wide out ran a churl. (Curl).
Coach Willingham has “panned” the media from practices. (Banned).
At times, Coach Baird sounds like a Domer. (Homer).
Emphasizing the magnitude of a statement by denying its opposite.
Example: Locker’s play was not too shabby. (Good to excellent).
“is a figure of speech that intentionally understates something or
implies that it is lesser in significance or size than it really is.”
Example: Mike Price’s loss in the 2002 Apple Cup can be considered a
moral victory because of a controversial ruling.
is a stylistic scheme in which conjunctions are deliberately omitted
from a series of related clauses.
Example: Locker came to play, he came to win, he came to Eugene, a city
is an inverted relationship between the syntactic elements of parallel
The elements of a simple chiasmus are often labeled in the form A B B A,
where the letters correspond to grammar, words, or meaning.
Example: The last sentence is a parallel structure; the first is
His passing efficiency topped 140 and 140 was his benchmark. (A B B A).
His passing efficiency topped 140 and his benchmark was 140. (A B A B)..
Tyrone’s next season? A six-win season seems impossible with
three treacherous games at its beginning. Winning less than half the
season’s twelve games means his hot seat will catch fire.
This notion can be expressed using poetic chiasmus, something that
former P-I columnist Royal Brougham might have written.
(A B A B)
Hard to climb at the start, the goal is set too high; anything less than
half way up, the mountain will erupt.
(A B B A)
Hard to climb at the start,
the goal is set too high;
mountain will erupt, anything less than half way up.
Maybe my editor was right? Trip? I didn't mean it that