Difference between personification and transferred epithet

Personification and transferred epithet are both literary devices used in writing to create vivid and imaginative imagery. In spite belonging to literary device category, they have distinct characteristics which set them apart.

Definition of personification

Personification is a figure of speech in which human qualities or characteristics are attributed to non-human entities, animals, or abstract concepts. It involves giving human attributes, emotions, or actions to something that is not human.

Examples of personification:
  1. The wind whispered secrets through the trees.
  2. The sun kissed the earth good morning.
  3. The waves danced playfully on the shore.
  4. Time flies when you’re having fun.
  5. The flowers nodded their heads in the breeze.
  6. The moon smiled down upon the sleeping city.
  7. The raging storm refused to be tamed.
  8. Fear knocked on the door of her heart.
  9. The car engine coughed and sputtered to life.
  10. The stars winked at us from the night sky.
  11. The old house groaned and creaked in the wind.
  12. The leaves on the ground whispered tales of autumn.
  13. The angry sea roared and crashed against the rocks.
  14. The alarm clock screamed at me to wake up.
  15. The abandoned building slumped in sadness.

Read also: Couplet in poetry

Definition of transferred epithet

Transferred epithet, also known as transferred adjective or hypallage, is a literary device used in writing and poetry where an adjective is applied to one noun but actually refers to another noun in the same sentence. It involves transferring the descriptive quality from the noun it logically modifies to another noun in close proximity.

Examples of transferred epithet:
  1. She wore a thoughtless dress.
  2. The curious eyes of the children watched the circus performance.
  3. The hungry flames devoured the wooden cabin.
  4. The proud ship sailed across the vast ocean.
  5. The restless sea tossed and turned through the night.
  6. With shaking hands, he poured a nervous drink.
  7. The sleepy town awoke to the sound of the church bells.
  8. The excited crowd clapped their hands enthusiastically.
  9. The lonely road stretched out before him, winding through the hills.
  10. The crisp autumn air embraced us as we walked through the park.
  11. The chilled water sent shivers down her spine as she dipped her toes.
  12. Her anxious voice filled the room with worried questions.
  13. The sweet aroma of fresh bread filled the bakery, tempting passersby.
  14. The soft, warm sand welcomed our bare feet on the beach.
  15. The ancient stones of the castle whispered tales of bygone days.

Differences between personification and transferred epithet:


  • Personification: Personification is a figure of speech where human qualities or actions are attributed to non-human entities.
  • Transferred Epithet: Transferred epithet is a figure of speech where an adjective is applied to one noun but refers to another noun in the same sentence.


Personification: It focuses on giving human attributes to inanimate objects, animals, or abstract concepts.
Transferred Epithet: It focuses on transferring the descriptive quality from one noun to another in a close context.


  • Personification: It involves making objects or ideas come alive by attributing human-like characteristics to them.
  • Transferred Epithet: It involves creating vivid imagery by indirectly applying an adjective to a different noun.


  • Personification: It adds life and personality to non-human elements, making them more relatable and engaging.
  • Transferred Epithet: It emphasizes or enhances the description of the second noun, adding creativity and depth to the writing.


  • Personification: It modifies the entire non-human entity, treating it as if it were a living being.
  • Transferred Epithet: It modifies the adjective and transfers its effect to another noun.

Subject Involvement:

  • Personification: The subject of personification is the non-human entity itself.
  • Transferred Epithet: The subject of transferred epithet is usually the adjective.

Grammatical Structure:

  • Personification: It involves personifying a whole entity, so the structure may involve verbs and pronouns related to humans.
  • Transferred Epithet: It involves an adjective being transferred, so the structure may focus on descriptive qualities.

Differences in Examples Between Personification and Transferred Epithet:

Examples of Personification:

  • “The wind whispered secrets through the trees.”
  • “The flowers danced in the gentle breeze.”

Examples of Transferred Epithet:

  • “She wore a thoughtless dress.”
  • “The excited crowd clapped their hands enthusiastically.”

Connection to Human Experience:

  • Personification: It directly connects non-human entities to human experiences and emotions.
  • Transferred Epithet: It indirectly connects an adjective to a specific noun’s experience or quality.


  • Personification: It associates the non-human elements with human experiences, emotions, and actions.
  • Transferred Epithet: It associates the adjective with the transferred noun’s context.


  • Personification: It may be more straightforward and easy to identify.
  • Transferred Epithet: It may be more subtle and require deeper analysis.

Storytelling Possibilities:

  • Personification: It offers various storytelling possibilities by bringing non-human elements to life.
  • Transferred Epithet: It offers creative ways to describe scenes and situations through the use of adjectives.


  • Personification: Its interpretation is more direct and literal.
  • Transferred Epithet: Its interpretation may be more nuanced, requiring readers to consider the adjective’s transferred effect.

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