Literary Terms

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Alliteration

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53 Terms

1

Alliteration

the repetition of initial sounds. Ex: ―The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew...‖ Coleridge

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2

Allegory

a story in which objects, characters, and actions are symbols of something outside the narrative. Example: Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm

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3

Allusion

a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art.

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4

Anachronism noun

something out of its normal time

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5

Anaphora

repetition when it is specifically used at the beginning of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences.

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6

Antagonist

the principal opponent or foil of the main character, who is referred to as the protagonist, in a drama or narrative.

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7

Antithesis

involves a direct contrast of structurally parallel word groupings, generally for the purpose of contrast. Ex: ― It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...‖ Dickens

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8

Anthropomorphism

the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

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9

Aphorism

a concise, terse, laconic, or memorable expression of a general truth or principle

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10

Apostrophe

a figure of speech in which a speaker directly addresses an absent person or a personified quality. Ex: ―Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!‖ Shakespeare

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11

Archetype

an image, a descriptive detail, a plot pattern, or a character type that occurs frequently in literature, myth, religion, or folklore and is, therefore, believed to evoke profound emotion because it touches the unconscious memory and thus calls into play illogical but strong responses.

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12

Asyndeton

a sentence containing a series of words or clauses in close succession, linked without the use of conjunctions

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13

Chiasmus

A statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed

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14

Climax

when a writer arranges ideas in order of importance

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15

Connotation

the set of associations that occur to people when they hear or read a word. Ex: The word home evokes feelings of warmth, safety, etc.

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16

Denotation

the dictionary meaning of a word

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17

Dialect

language spoken by people in a particular region or group

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18

Diction

he words the writer chooses to use

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19

Dytopia

An imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible

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20

Elegy

a poem, and it has a particular kind of emotion driving it.

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21

Enjambment

a poetic term for the continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line of poetry to the next.

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22

Exposition

the background information on the characters and setting explained at the beginning of the story

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23

Euphemism

a word or phrase that softens an uncomfortable topic.

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24

Foil

A character who is in most ways opposite to the main character (protagonist) or one who is nearly the same as the protagonist. The purpose of the foil character is to emphasize the traits of the main character by contrast only

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25

Foreshadowing

the use in a literary work of clues that suggest events that have yet to occur

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26

Flashback

a section of a literary work that interrupts the sequence of events to relate an event from an earlier time

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27

Genre

A category or type of literature (or of art, music, etc.) characterized by a particular form, style, or content.

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28

Hyperbole

a deliberate exaggeration or overstatement Ex: ―That story is as old as time.‖

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29

In media res

Technical term for the epic convention of beginning "in the middle of things," rather than at the very start of the story.

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30

Irony

literary technique that involves differences between a. appearances and reality b. expectation and result c. meaning and intention

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31

Jargon

the specific type of language used by a particular group or profession.

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32

Juxtaposition

when you place two concepts or objects next to or near each other, thereby highlighting their innate differences and similarities.

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33

Malapropism

verbal blunder in which one word is replaced by another similar in sound but different in meaning

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34

Metaphor

a comparison between two unlike things, not using ―as‖. ―like‖,―than‖ or ―resembles‖

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35

Metonymy

a figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it. Ex: The monarch is spoken of as ―the crown‖

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36

Onomatopoeia

words that imitate the sounds. Ex: hiss, buzz, coo

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37

Oxymoron

a figure of speech that combines two opposing or contradictory ideas. Ex: jumbo shrimp, tough love

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38

Paradox

a statement that seems to contradict itself but actually contains truth or common sense. Ex: The coach considered this a good loss.

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39

Personification

giving human characteristics to a nonhuman subject

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40

Polysendeton

the repeated use of coordinating conjunctions to connect different items in a sentence.

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41

Protagonist

Main character in a story

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42

Pun

a play on words that have different meanings but sound the same Ex: ―I‖ and ―eye‖

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43

Rhetorical question

an inquiry that ends in a question mark but is asked for effect rather than to elicit an answer.

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44

Setting

the time and place of the action of a literary work

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45

Symbolism

the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities

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46

Synecdoche

figure of speech in which a part represents the whole

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47

Syntax

the physical arrangement of words in a sentence

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48

Theme

a central message or insight into life revealed throughout a literary work. It must be expressed in sentence form.

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49

Tone

the writer's attitude toward his/her subject and audience.

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50

Understatement

saying less than is actually meant, generally in an ironic way.

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51

Utopia

an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect

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52

Verisimilitude

the idea that literature should somehow be true to reality

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53

Zeugma

connects two different meanings of the same word together, setting them side-by-side to surprise, delight, or confuse audiences

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