Rhetoric lessons from ‘Star Trek’s’ Dr. McCoy

The medical officer is known for using figures of speech to express his thoughts—but his quirky analogies and other turns of phrase are often more humorous than insightful.

Figures of speech, when used correctly, add depth to our content and help us paint a descriptive picture.

When they are used incorrectly, the results can be silly and confusing—such as mangled metaphors and colorful turns of phrases.

“Star Trek’s” Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy might be a poster boy for incorrect usage.

Whether he uttered them in the original series, the classic films or the newer movies, the chief medical officer of the Enterprise peppers his language with clichés, mixed metaphors and other linguistic head-shakers.

Here are a few examples (quotes courtesy of IMDB):

  • “Damn it, man. I’m a doctor, not a physicist!”
  • “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer.”
  • “Damn it, man. I’m a doctor, not a torpedo technician!”
  • “I’m a surgeon, not a psychiatrist.”
  • “I’m a doctor, not an escalator.”
  • “I’m not a magician, Spock, just an old country doctor.”
  • “By golly, Jim, I’m beginning to think I can cure a rainy day!”
  • “If you treat her like a lady, she’ll always bring you home.”
  • “Don’t see no points on your ears boy, but you sound like a Vulcan.”
  • “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?”
  • “Are you out of your corn-fed mind?”
  • “You know, back home we have a saying: ‘If you’re gonna ride in the Kentucky Derby, you don’t leave your prize stallion in the stable.'”
  • “Logic? My God, the man’s talking about logic; we’re talking about universal Armageddon!”
  • “You don’t rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tire.”
  • “You just sat that man down in a high-stakes poker game with no cards and told him to bluff.”

Not all of them are bad, however:

  • “Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.”
  • “You see, I feel sorrier for you than I do for him, because you’ll never know the things that love can drive a man to—the ecstasies, the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures and the glorious victories. All of these things you’ll never know, simply because the word ‘love’ isn’t written into your book.”
  • “I got some stuff that will tranquilize an active volcano!”
  • “You know, Spock, if an Earth girl says, uh, ‘It’s me, not you’, it’s definitely you.”

“Star Trek” fans, what are a few of your favorite McCoyisms from the series?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.

(Image via and via)


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.