AP Lit

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132 Terms

1

absolute

a word free from limitations or qualifications (“best,” “all,” “unique,” “perfect.”)

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adage

a familiar proverb or wise saying.

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3

allegory

a literary work in which characters, objects, or actions represent abstractions.

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4

alliteration

the repetition of initial sounds in successive or neighboring words.

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5

allusion

a reference to something literary, mythological, or historical that the author assumes the reader will recognize.

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6

analogy

a comparison of two different things that are similar in some way.

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7

anaphora

the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of consecutive lines or sentences.

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8

anecdote

a brief narrative that focuses on a particular incident or event.

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9

antecedent

the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers.

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10

antithesis

a statement in which two opposing ideas are balanced.

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11

aphorism

a concise statement that expresses succinctly a general truth or idea, often using rhyme or balance.

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12

apostrophe

a figure of speech in which one directly addresses an absent or imaginary person, or some abstraction.

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13

archetype

a detail, image, or character type that occurs frequently in literature and myth and is thought to appeal in a universal way to the unconscious and to evoke a response.

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14

argument

a statement of the meaning or main point of a literary work.

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15

asyndeton

a construction in which elements are presented in a series without conjunctions.

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16

balanced sentence

a sentence in which words, phrases, or clauses are set off against each other to emphasize a contrast.

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17

bildungsroman

a novel that deals with the formative years of the main character: in particular, his or her psychological development and moral education.

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18

chiasmus

a statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed. (Ex: “Fair is foul and foul is fair.”)

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19

cliché

an expression that has been overused to the extent that its freshness has worn off.

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20

climax

the point of highest interest in a literary work.

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21

colloquialism

informal words or expressions not usually acceptable in formal writing.

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22

complex sentence

a sentence with one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

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23

compound sentence-a sentence with two or more coordinate independent clauses, often joined by one or more conjunctions.

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24

conceit

a fanciful, particularly clever extended metaphor.

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25

concrete details

details that relate to or describe actual, specific things or events.

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26

connotation

the implied or associative meaning of a word.

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27

cumulative sentence-a sentence in which the main independent clause is elaborated by the successive addition of modifying clauses or phrases.

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28

declarative sentence-a sentence that makes a statement or declaration.

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29

deductive reasoning

reasoning in which a conclusion is reached by stating a general principle.and then applying that principle to a specific case (The sun rises every morning; therefore, the

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30

sun will rise on Tuesday morning.)

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31

denotation

the literal meaning of a word.

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32

dialect

a variety of speech characterized by its own particular grammar or pronunciation, often associated with a particular geographical region.

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33

dialogue

conversation between two or more people.

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34

diction

the word choices made by a writer.

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35

didactic

having the primary purpose of teaching or instructing.

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36

dilemma

a situation that requires a person to decide between two equally attractive or equally unattractive alternatives.

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37

dissonance

harsh, inharmonious, or discordant sounds.

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38

elegy

a formal poem presenting a meditation on death or another solemn theme.

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39

ellipsis

the omission of a word or phrase which is grammatically necessary but can be deduced from the context (“Some people prefer cats; others, dogs.”)

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40

epic

a long narrative poem written in elevated style which presents the adventures of characters of high position and episodes that are important to the history of a race or nation.

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41

epigram

a brief, pithy, and often paradoxical saying.

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42

epigraph

a saying or statement on the title page of a work, or used as a heading for a chapter or other section of a work.

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43

epiphany

a moment of sudden revelation or insight.

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44

epitaph

an inscription on a tombstone or burial place.

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45

epithet

a term used to point out a characteristic of a person. Homeric epithets are often compound adjectives (“swift-footed Achilles”) that become an almost formulaic part of a name.

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46

eulogy

a formal speech praising a person who has died.

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47

euphemism

an indirect, less offensive way of saying something that is considered unpleasant.

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48

exclamatory sentence

a sentence expressing strong feeling, usually punctuated with an exclamation mark.

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49

expletive-an interjection to lend emphasis; sometimes, a profanity.

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50

fable-a brief story that leads to a moral, often using animals as characters.

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51

figurative language

language employing one or more figures of speech (simile, metaphor, imagery, etc.)

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52

flashback

the insertion of an earlier event into the normal chronological order of a narrative.

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53

flat character

a character who embodies a single quality and who does not develop in the course of a story.

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54

foreshadowing

the presentation of material in such a way that the reader is prepared for what is to come later in the work.

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55

frame device-a story within a story. An example is Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in which the primary tales are told within the “frame story” of the pilgrimage to Canterbury.

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56

genre

a major category or type of literature.

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57

homily

a sermon, or a moralistic lecture.

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58

hubris

excessive pride or arrogance that results in the downfall of the protagonist of a tragedy.

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59

hyperbole

intentional exaggeration to create an effect.

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60

hypothetical question

a question that raises a hypothesis, conjecture, or supposition.

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61

idiom

an expression in a given language that cannot be understood from the literal meaning of the words in the expression; or, a regional speech or dialect.

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62

imagery

the use of figures of speech to create vivid images that appeal to one of the senses

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63

implication

a suggestion an author or speaker makes (implies) without stating it directly. NOTE: the author/sender implies the reader/audience infers.

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64

inductive reasoning

deriving general principles from particular facts or instances (“Every cat I have ever seen has four legs; cats are four-legged animals).

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65

inference

a conclusion one draws (infers) based on premises or evidence.

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66

invective

an intensely vehement, highly emotional verbal attack.

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67

irony

the use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning; or, incongruity between what is expected and what actually occurs.

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68

jargon

the specialized language or vocabulary of a particular group or profession.

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69

juxtaposition

placing two elements side by side to present a comparison or contrast.

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70

legend

a narrative handed down from the past, containing historical elements and usually supernatural elements.

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71

limerick

light verse consisting of five lines of regular rhythm in which the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme, and the second and third lines rhyme.

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72

limited narrator

a narrator who presents the story as it is seen and understood by a single character and restricts information to what is seen, heard, thought, or felt by that one character

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73

literary license

deviating from normal rules or methods in order to achieve a certain effect (intentional sentence fragments, for example.)

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74

litotes

a type of understatement in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite (describing a particularly horrific scene by saying, “It was not a pretty picture.”)

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75

malapropism

the mistaken substitution of one word for another word that sounds similar (“The doctor wrote a subscription.”)

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76

maxim

a concise statement, often offering advice; an adage.

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77

metaphor

a direct comparison of two different things.

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78

metonymy

substituting the name of one object for another object closely associated with it.(“The pen [writing] is mightier than the sword [war/fighting.]”)

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79

mood

the emotional atmosphere of a work.

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80

motif

a standard theme, element, or dramatic situation that recurs in various works.

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81

motivation

a character’s incentive or reason for behaving in a certain manner; that which impels a character to act.

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82

myth

a traditional story presenting supernatural characters and episodes that help explain natural events.

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83

narrative

a story or narrated account.

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84

narrator

the one who tells the story; may be first- or third-person, limited or omniscient.

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85

non sequitur

an inference that does not follow logically from the premises (literally, “does not follow.”)

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86

omniscient narrator

a narrator who is able to know, see, and tell all, including the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters

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87

onomatopoeia

a word formed from the imitation of natural sounds.

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88

oxymoron

an expression in which two words that contradict each other are joined parable

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89

paradox

an apparently contradictory statement that actually contains some truth

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90

parallelism

the use of corresponding grammatical or syntactical forms.

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91

paraphrase

a restatement of a text in a different form or in different words, often for the purpose of clarity.

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92

parody

a humorous imitation of a serious work.

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93

parenthetical

a comment that interrupts the immediate subject, often to qualify or explain.

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94

pastoral

literature that deals with people living off the land, revealing the challenges and blessings of nature.

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95

pathos

the quality in a work that prompts the reader to feel pity.

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96

pedantic

characterized by an excessive display of learning or scholarship.

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97

personification

endowing non-human objects or creatures with human qualities or characteristics.

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98

philippic

a strong verbal denunciation.

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99

point of view

the vantage point from which a story is told.

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100

polysyndeton

the use, for rhetorical effect, of more conjunctions than is necessary or natural.

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