Apophasis [uh-pof-uh-sis] (Latin: ‘to say no’) refers, in general, to ‘mention by not mentioning.’ Apophasis covers a wide variety of figures of speech.

The term was originally and more broadly a method of logical reasoning or argument by denial—a way of describing what something is by explaining what it is not, or a process-of-elimination way of talking about something by talking about what it is not. An example of this is the Wikipedia article: ‘What Wikipedia is not.’

Paralipsis is a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by denying that it should be brought up. As such, it can be seen as a rhetorical relative of irony. Paralipsis is usually employed to make a subversive ad hominem attack. The device is typically used to distance the speaker from unfair claims, while still bringing them up.

For instance, a politician might say, ‘I don’t even want to talk about the allegations that my opponent is a drunk.’ A political advertisement may say, ‘Vote for Smith for sober leadership,’ implying that his opponent, is an irresponsible drunk. Proslepsis is an extreme kind of paralipsis that gives the full details of the acts one is claiming to pass over; for example, ‘I will not stoop to mentioning the occasion last winter when our esteemed opponent was found asleep in an alleyway with an empty bottle of vodka still pressed to his lips.’

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