114 AP Lit Terms

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Allegory

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114 Terms

1

Allegory

A prose or poetic narrative in which the characters, behavior, and even the setting demonstrates multiple levels of meaning and significance.

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Alliteration

The sequential repetition of a similar initial sound, usually applied to consonants, usually heard in closely proximate stressed syllables.

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Allusion

A reference to a literary or historical event, person, or place.

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Anapestic

A metrical foot in poetry that consists of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed.

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Anaphora

The regular repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases or clauses.

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6

Anecdote

A brief story or tale told by a character in a piece of literature.

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7

Antagonist

Any force that is in opposition to the main character, or protagonist.

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8

Antithesis

The juxtaposition of sharply contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words, phrases, grammatical structure, or ideas.

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9

Apostrophe

An address or invocation to something that is inanimate.

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10

Archetype

Recurrent designs, patterns of action, character types, themes, or images which are identifiable in a wide range of literature.

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11

Assonance

A repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds usually found in stressed syllables of close proximity.

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12

Asyndeton

A style in which conjunctions are omitted, usually producing a fast-paced, more rapid prose.

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13

Attitude

The sense expressed by the tone of voice and/or the mood of a piece of writing; the feelings the author holds toward his subject, the people in his narrative, the events, the setting, or even the theme.

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14

Ballad

A narrative poem that is, or originally was, meant to be sung.

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15

Ballad stanza

A common stanza form, consisting of a quatrain that alternates four-beat and three-beat lines: one and three are unrhymed iambic tetrameter, and two and four are rhymed iambic trimeter.

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16

Blank verse

The verse form that most resembles common speech.

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17

Caesura

A pause in a line of verse, indicated by natural speech patterns rather than due to specific metrical patterns.

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18

Caricature

A depiction in which a character's characteristics or features are so deliberately exaggerated as to render them absurd.

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19

Chiasmus

A figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second.

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20

Colloquial

Ordinary language, the vernacular.

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21

Conceit

A comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out within a piece of literature, in particular an extended metaphor within a poem.

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22

Connotation

What is suggested by a word, apart from what it explicitly describes, often referred to as the implied meaning of a word.

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23

Consonance

The repetition of a sequence of two or more consonants, but with a change in the intervening vowels, such as pitter-patter, pish-posh, clinging and clanging.

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Couplet

two rhyming lines of iambic pentameter that together present a single idea or connection.

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25

Dactylic

A metrical foot in poetry that consists of two stressed syllables followed by one unstressed syllable.

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26

Denotation

A direct and specific meaning, often referred to as the dictionary meaning of a word.

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27

Denouement

The final resolution of the main conflict in a play or story. It generally follows the climax.

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28

Dialect

The language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific area, region, or group of people.

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29

Diction

The specific word choice an author uses to persuade or convey tone, purpose, or effect.

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30

Dramatic monologue

A monologue set in a specific situation and spoken to an imaginary audience.

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31

Elegy

A poetic lament upon the death of a particular person, usually ending in consolation.

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32

Enjambment

The continuation of a sentence from one line or couplet of a poem to the next.

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33

Epic

a poem that celebrates, in a continuous narrative, the achievements of mighty heroes and heroines, often concerned with the founding of a nation or developing of a culture: it uses elevated language and grand, high style.

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34

Exposition

That part of the structure that sets the scene, introduces and identifies characters, and establishes the situation at the beginning of a story or play.

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35

Extended metaphor

A detailed and complex metaphor that extends over a long section of a work, also known as a conceit.

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36

Fable

A legend or a short moral story often using animals as characters.

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Falling action

That part of plot structure in which the complications of the rising action are untangled. This is also known as the denouement.

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38

Farce

A play or scene in a play or book that is characterized by broad humor, wild antics, and often slapstick and physical humor.

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39

Flashback

Retrospection, where an earlier event is inserted into the normal chronology of the narrative.

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40

Foreshadowing

To hint at or present an indication of the future beforehand.

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41

Formal diction

Language that is lofty, dignified, and impersonal.

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42

Free verse

Poetry that is characterized by varying line lengths, lack of traditional meter, and nonrhyming lines.

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43

Genre

A type or class of literature such as epic or narrative or poetry or belles lettres.

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44

Hyperbole

Overstatement characterized by exaggerated language.

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45

Iambic

A metrical foot in poetry that consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

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46

Idyll

A short poem describing a country or pastoral scene, praising the simplicity and peace of rustic life.

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47

Imagery

Broadly defined, any sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the use of figurative language to evoke a feeling, to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object.

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48

Informal Diction

Language that is not as lofty or impersonal as formal diction; similar to everyday speech.

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In medias res

"in the midst of things"; refers to opening a story in the middle of the action, necessitating filling in past details by exposition or flashback.

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50

Irony

A situation or statement characterized by significant difference between what is expected or understood and what actually happens or is meant.

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51

Jargon

Specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group.

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52

Juxtaposition

The location of one thing as being adjacent or juxtaposed with another.

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53

Limited point of view

A perspective confined to a single character, whether a first person or a third person; the reader cannot know for sure what is going on in the minds of other characters.

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54

Litote

A figure of speech that emphasizes its subject by conscious understatement.

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55

Loose sentence

A sentence grammatically complete and usually stating its main idea before the end.

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56

Lyric

Originally designated poems meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre; now any short poem in which the speaker expresses intense personal emotion rather than describing a narrative or dramatic situation.

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57

Message

A misleading term for theme; the central idea or statement of a story, or area of inquiry or explanation.

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58

Metaphor

One thing pictured as if it were something else, suggesting a likeness or analogy between them.

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59

Meter

The more or less regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.

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60

Metonymy

A figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name or designate something.

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61

Mood

A feeling or ambiance resulting from the tone of a piece as well as the writer/narrator's attitude and point of view.

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62

Motif

A recurrent device, formula, or situation that often serves as a signal for the appearance of a character or event.

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63

Narrative structure

A textual organization based on sequences of connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework.

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Narrator

The "character" who "tells" the story, or in poetry, the persona.

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Occasional poem

A poem written about or for a specific occasion, public or private.

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Ode

A lyric poem that is somewhat serious in subject and treatment, is elevated in style, and sometimes uses elaborate stanza structure, which is often patterned in sets of three.

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Omniscient point of view

Also called unlimited focus: a perspective that can be seen from one character's view, then another's, then another's, or can be moved in or out of the mind of any character at any time.

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Onomatopoeia

A word capturing or approximating the sound of what described.

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Overstatement

Exaggerated language; also called hyperbole.

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70

Oxymoron

A figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory elements, sometimes resulting in a humorous image or statement.

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71

Parable

A short fiction that illustrates an explicit moral lesson through the use of analogy.

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Paradox

A statement that seems contradictory but may actually be true.

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Parallel structure

The use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts.

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Parody

A work that imitates another work for comic effect by exaggerating the style and changing the content of the original.

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Pastoral

A work that describes the simple life of country folk, usually shepherds who live a timeless, painless life in a world full of beauty, music, and love.

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Periodic sentence

A sentence that is not grammatically complete until the end.

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77

Persona

The voice or figure of the author who tells and structures the story who may or may not share the values of the actual author.

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Personification

Treating an abstraction or nonhuman object as if it were a person by endowing it with human qualities.

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79

Petrarchan sonnet

Also called Italian Sonnet: a sonnet form that divides the poem into one section of eight lines and a second section of six lines.

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80

Plot

The arrangement of the narration based on the cause-effect relationship of the events

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81

Protagonist

The main character in a work, who may or may not be heroic.

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82

Quatrain

A poetic stanza of four lines.

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83

Realism

The practice in literature of attempting to describe nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail.

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84

Refrain

A repeated stanza or line in a poem or song.

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85

Rhetorical question

A question that is asked simply for the sake of stylistic effect and is not expected to be answered.

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86

Rhythm

The modulation of weak and strong elements in the flow of speech.

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87

Rising action

the development of action in a work, usually at the beginning.

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88

Sarcasm

a form of verbal irony in which apparent praise is actually harshly or bitterly critical.

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89

Satire

a literary work that holds up human failings to ridicule and censure.

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Scansion

The analysis of verse to show its meter.

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Setting

The time and place of the action in a story, poem, or play.

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92

Shakespearean sonnet

also called an English sonnet: a sonnet form that divides the poem into three units of four lines each and a final unit of two lines.

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Shaped verse

another name for concrete poetry: poetry that is shaped to look like an object.

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94

Simile

a direct, explicit comparison of one thing to another, usually using the words like or as to draw the connection.

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Soliloquy

a monologue in which the character in a play is alone and speaking only to himself or herself.

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Speaker

The person, not necessarily the author, who is the voice of a poem.

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97

Stanza

a section of a poem demarcated by extra line spacing.

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98

Stereotype

A characterization based on conscious or unconscious assumptions that some aspect, such as gender, age, ethnic or national identity, religion, occupation, marital status, and so on, are predictably accompanied by certain character traits, actions, even values.

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99

Stock character

One who appears in a number of stories or plays such as the cruel stepmother, the femme fatale, etc.

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Structure

The organization or arrangement of the various elements in a work.

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