An Introduction to Diasyrmus

Diasyrmus (etymologically from Greek, literally “a tearing in pieces”), is a rhetorical device by which the argument of the adversary is commended in a disdainful manner.

In other words, using disdain to reject the argument of the adversary; this is usually by means of basic similitudeOpens in new window of some ridiculous example, to which the adversary’s argument is compared, and scornfully ridiculed.

Notable Examples
  • “Arguing that we can clean up government by better regulating elections is like asking a dog to quit marking his territory by lifting his hind leg.”
  • “Allowing your kids to roam the streets at night so they can “learn the nitty-gritty of life” is like putting herbicides on your garden to make it grow!”
Further Readings:
Silver Rhetoricae: Figures | DiasyrmusOpens in new window;
Henry Peachum | The Garden of Eloquence: Tropes | DiasyrmusOpens in new window;
Aquil. (“diasyrmus,” “elevatio,” “irrisio” 15); Peacham [1577] D4r;
Sherry (“diasirmus,” “elevacio” [1550] 61).