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]
  • Auxesis is very commonly used by Politicians, as well. "These are my heroes; theirs are the stories that shaped my life. And it is on behalf of them that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States." Barack Obama's acceptance speech [6]


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.

Similar to the Amplification principle, Auxesis is most commonly used to make something appear greater in comparison to something smaller in a sequence. With the definition from Ancient Greece meaning "growth," the figure of speech starts with something smaller, then increasing in increments. This practice is commonly used to emphasize importance and grandeur, and to create an exaggerated view of the subject. One example is "She is good. He is better. They are best." This shows the growth that was previously stated, and the main idea is that together, they are better than separate. [7] This is an important tactic in persuasion, because in comparing/contrasting several different things, you are making the subject more significant and seemingly more attractive than it was before. "The power of contrast in copy is amazing, because you are actually altering the reader’s perception of the facts, and yet the facts have not changed at all. The technique works by getting into the reader’s head in such a way that a red light is switched to green." [8] This is commonly used in television commercials to make the product seem better by comparison.

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. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^