Auxesis (figure of speech)

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Auxesis (from Ancient Greek: αὔξησις "growth, increase") has multiple meanings. In rhetoric, auxesis is a form of hyperbole that intentionally overstates something or implies that it is greater in significance or size than it really is. Auxesis is the opposite of meiosis.[1][2][3] Auxesis may also refer to a sequence of clauses with increasing force. In this sense, auxesis is comparable to, but not synonymous with climax.[4][why?]


The etymology of the literary technique, auxesis, originated in Ancient Greece. It was originally named auxanein, which means "to grow."


  • "It's a well hit ball, it's a long drive, it might be, it could be, it IS... a home run!"
  • "O'erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune, and thy state." -Richard II, Shakespeare
  • "It is a sin to bind a Roman Citizen, a crime to scourge him, little short of the most unnatural murder to put him to death; what then shall I call this crucifixion?" -Cicero, Against Verres
  • "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird... it's a plane... it's Superman!" -The Adventures of Superman[5]


Main article: Climax
  • Referring to a scratch as a wound.
  • Referring to a sports match won by a wide margin as a "slaughter".
  • Referring to a complicated logistical issue as a "trainwreck".

Of a sequence of clauses with increasing force:

  • All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance, all our ignorance brings us nearer to death, but nearness to death no nearer to God. (T.S. Eliot, "The Rock")
  • Morton found the food indifferent; Winston considered it abhorrent; Simon killed the cook.


The usage of auxesis has been popular for all of time, especially in every day modern life. It is mostly used to help persuade people by focusing their attention on pros rather than cons. Whether it's a commercial or a billboard, almost all advertising uses it. Some examples are the positive characteristics shown off on products in large font, while negative side effects are not emphasized in fine print. The saying, "Buy 1 and get 2 FREE!" Usage of an auxesis can be found almost anywhere and is a big part of current culture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encarta World English Dictionary (1999)
  2. ^ The Times English Dictionary (2000)
  3. ^ OED 1st edition
  4. ^ Gideon O. Burton, Brigham Young University Silva Rhetoricae
  5. ^ "Auxesis (Literary Definition)". Alchemipedia. Retrieved 22 October 2013.