An Introduction to Asteismus
Asteismus (specifically termed as figure of reply), is the rhetorical term for achieving polite or soft mockery whereby the replier catches a sensitive word and redirects it back to the interlocutor with an unexpected twist. In alignment to the technique of the Asteismus, Cuddon (64) defines it thus, “A contrived turning or twisting of the meaning of something said so that it implies something else.”
Asteismus is well known for its use of clever, delicate words that praises while appearing to reproach or blames while seemingly flattering. It is a form of social irony commonly used amongst friends.
A number of rhetors opines that ‘Asteismus’ does not involve sarcasm or rudeness. In their observation, asteismus is an inoffensive “civil jest,” a “merry scoff” the likes of which has come to be associated with the urbane wit of the sophisticated city-dweller; according to them, asteismus is clearly associated with the pun.