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Diction Examples

Diction, in its original, primary meaning, refers to the writer's or the speaker's distinctive vocabulary choices and style of expression in a poem or story. It also refers to a distinctiveness of speech, or the art of speaking so that each word is clearly heard and understood to its fullest complexity and extremity, and concerns pronunciation and tone, rather than word choice and style. This secondary sense is more precisely and commonly expressed with the term enunciation, or with its synonym articulation.

In literature, diction is understood to be the distinctive tone or tenor of an author's writings that becomes immediately synonymous with his/her name. Diction is usually judged with reference to the prevailing standards of proper writing and speech and is seen as the mark of quality of the writing. It is also understood as the selection of certain words or phrases that become peculiar to a writer. In everyday use, a person's diction may represent formal or informal communication, for example; saying "You trimmed your hair" is more distinctive than saying "You hacked off your locks." or "You bought a new car?" versus "You got new wheels?" In a formal setting, a person most likely chooses words carefully and avoids slang or contractions.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Meaning: By repeating the phrase It was repeated throughout the passage, the writer ensures that the readers will give more consideration to characteristic of the age they are going to read about in the novel.

- Charles Dickens (Book: A Tale of Two Cities)
Literature Charles Dickens
Sanctus.
Meaning: Consonant /s/
Spanish
Ejus.
Meaning: Glide /j/
Spanish
Tollis.
Meaning: Pure Vowel /o/
Spanish
Enfant.
Meaning: Nasal Vowel /A~/
French
Bleu.
Meaning: Mixed Vowel /Q/
French
Aller.
Meaning: Pure Vowel /e/
French
This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again.
And thou be conscience-calmed...see here it is...
I hold it towards you.

Meaning: Take away those biographical facts, and you still see that this poem is both mournful and realistic in tone. The words are straightforward. For instance, the "icy silence" (line 3) contrasts with "red life" (line 6). The first five lines are almost brutal: This hand would "haunt" and "chill" (line 4) you. Keats isn't turning away in sentimentality; he's facing death, and he's making the reader face it, too, as he stretches out his still "living hand."

- John Keats (Poem: This Living Hand)
Poetic John Keats
Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch

Meaning: Treating the sun as a real human being, the poet speaks to the sun in an informal way using colloquial expression. He rebukes the sun that he has appeared to spoil the good time he is having with his beloved. Further, he orders the saucy pedantic sun to go away.

- John Donne (Poem: The Sun Rising)
Poetic John Donne
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the spring adieu.

Meaning: It is more formal to use adieu than to say goodbye.

- John Keats (Poem: Ode to the Grecian Urn)
Poetic John Keats
I wanna make a reservation please.
Meaning: Colloquial diction is a manner of speaking/writing that uses casual/informal words and expressions.
Colloquial Types
I didn't know his gaffer had kicked the bucket.
Meaning: Colloquial diction is a manner of speaking/writing that uses casual/informal words and expressions.
Colloquial Types
Y'all come back now, hear?
Meaning: Colloquial diction is a manner of speaking/writing that uses casual/informal words and expressions.
Colloquial Types
Diction Meaning
What is diction?
Diction is defined as the choice of words that one uses in speech or text. Individuals vary their diction for different contexts and settings. If one is speaking in a group of friends, for instance, one's word choice is typically different than if the same person is giving a formal address at an event.
Diction Examples
Diction. Choosing the right words.