An Introduction to Dehortatio

Dehortatio (etymologically from Latin, signifying “dissuasion”) is a rhetorical device which prevails when we offer our hearers a dissuasive statement.

Dehortatio is the precise opposite of adhortatioOpens in new window; it is usually in form of advice to one’s audience, discouraging them from taking inept actions. The sentences using dehortatio typically start with “never” or “do not”.

Notable Examples
  • “never look a gift horse in the mouth.”
  • “Never give in, never give in. Never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or pretty – never give in …”
    — (Winston Churchill)
  • “Never let a fool kiss you – or a kiss fool you.” — (“Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You” – Viking, 1999)
Further Readings:
Silver Rhetoricae | Figures: DehortatioOpens in new window
Powerful, Professional, Personal Presentations: By Ian McKenzie | DehortatioOpens in new window