What are the Different Types of Diction

What is Diction

Diction is the choice of words or the style used by the writer or a character. Diction is a main element in deciding the quality of a piece of writing. There are several factors to consider when choosing words: 

  • Words have to be right and accurate
  • Words have to be appropriate for the context
  • Words should be understood by the readers or listeners

The choice of words may differ according to different characters, situations, and settings. For example, formal diction may be used in formal settings such as conferences, academic presentations, etc. whereas informal diction is used in everyday language. Thus, diction can be classified into different types. Here, we will look at the different types of diction in detail.

What are the Different Types of Diction

Formal vs Informal Diction

Formal diction refers to language appropriate for formal or official occasions. It often contains complex syntax and sophisticated words. Formal diction does not contain colloquialism, contractions, slang, etc.

Informal or Causal Diction refers to the style of language we use in everyday life. Informal language does not usually contain any complex syntactic patterns or sophisticated terms. It might contain colloquialisms and contractions.


Colloquial expressions are nonstandard, often regional ways of using language. They are appropriate for informal and conversational speech and writing. Expressions like ain’t, gonna, y’all are examples of colloquial words.


Slang is an informal, nonstandard form of language which consists of newly created and rapidly changing words and phrases. Words like phat (physically attractive), bonkers (mad), beemer (a BMW) are some examples of slang words. 


Dialect is a variety of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people. Dialect may be different from the standard variety of that language through its vocabulary, syntax, and pronunciation.


Jargon is a specific words or phrases used in different contexts, professions, and trade. The people outside that context may not be able to identify these words and phrases. For example, FTP is a police jargon for the failure to pay the fine; BP is medical jargon for blood pressure.What are the Different Types of Diction

Abstract vs Concrete Diction

Abstract diction refers to words and phrases that denote ideas, emotions, concepts and conditions that are intangible. They often refer to general words that cannot be pictured mentally. In addition, abstract words may have different meanings for different people. Love, jealousy, anger, peace, rights, freedom, politics are some examples of abstract terms.

“She had a fine person, many brilliant attainments, but her mind was poor, her heart barren by nature; nothing bloomed spontaneously on that soil; no unforced natural fruit delighted by its freshness.”

– “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

Concrete diction refers to specific words that describe physical features, qualities, and conditions. The readers can get a mental image by reading these words.

“Standing at the original Victorian counter was a man in a long black leather coat. His hair had been grown to counteract its unequivocal retreat from the top of his head, and was fashioned into a mean, frail ponytail that hung limply down his back.”

– “The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise” by Julia Stuart

Pedestrian vs Pedantic Diction

Pedestrian diction refers to the language of the common people.

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.” 

– “To Kill a Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee

Pedantic diction refers to elevated language used by a character to display his or her importance.

“You must give me leave to flatter myself, my dear cousin that your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course.”

– “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Literal vs Figurative Diction

Literal language refers to the exact meaning of a word without any emotional associations or secondary meanings. This is also known as denotation.

She was very protective of him.

Figurative language uses words that have different meanings from their literal interpretation. This is commonly used in literature.

He was the apple of her eyes.

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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