Amplification: A rhetorical figure involving a dramatic ordering of words, often emphasizing some sort of expansion or progression, whether conceptual, valuative, poetic, or even with regard to word length. Among those who have criticized this once-common form of verbal flourish is Alexander Pope, who in Peri Bathous [On Bathos]: Of the Art of Sinking in Poetry (1728) derided amplification, calling it “the spinning wheel” of bathos.

EXAMPLES: In the following lines from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1383), the narrator amplifies his subject, the sun, using metaphor (day’s honor), synecdoche (heaven’s eye), and personification (night’s foe):

The daye’s honour, and the heven’s ye,

The nyghte’s foo — all this clepe° I the sunne.call

A more familiar example of amplification is also an instance of asyndeton, a rhetorical figure involving deliberate omission of conjunctions: “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”