AP Language Literary Terms

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Active Voice

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121 Terms

1

Active Voice

The subject of the sentence performs the action. This is a more direct and preferred style of writing in most cases.

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Allusion

An indirect reference to something with which the reader is supposed to be familiar.

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3

Alter-ego

A character that is used by the author to speak the author’s own thoughts; when an author speaks directly to the audience through a character.

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4

Anecdote

A brief recounting of a relevant episode. Often inserted into fictional or non fictional texts as a way of developing a point or injecting humor.

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5

Antecedent

The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.

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6

Classicism

Art or literature characterized by a realistic view of people and the world; sticks to traditional themes and structures

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7

Comic relief

when a humorous scene is inserted into a serious story, in order to lighten the mood somewhat.

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8

Diction

Word choice, particularly as an element of style. Different types of words have significant effects on meaning.

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9

Colloquial

Ordinary or familiar type of conversation.

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10

Connotation

Rather than the dictionary definition, the associations suggested by a word. Implied meaning rather than literal meaning.

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11

Denotation

The literal, explicit meaning of a word, without its connotations.

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12

Jargon

The diction used by a group which practices a similar profession or activity.

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13

Vernacular

Language or dialect of a particular country; Language or dialect of a regional clan or group; Plain everyday speech

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14

Didactic

A term used to describe fiction, nonfiction or poetry that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.

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15

Adage

A folk saying with a lesson.

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16

Allegory

A story, fictional or non fictional, in which characters, things, and events represent qualities or concepts.

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17

Aphorism

A terse statement which expresses a general truth or moral principle.

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18

Ellipsis

The deliberate omission of a word or phrase from prose done for effect by the author.

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19

Euphemism

A more agreeable or less offensive substitute for generally unpleasant words or concepts. Sometimes they are used for political correctness.

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20

Figurative Language

is the opposite of “Literal Language.” Literal language is writing that makes complete sense when you take it at face value. Writing that is not meant to be taken literally.

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21

Analogy

a comparison of one pair of variables to a parallel set of variables.

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22

Hyperbole

Exaggeration.

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23

Idiom

A common, often used expression that doesn’t make sense if you take it literally.

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24

Metaphor

Making an implied comparison, not using “like,” as,” or other such words.

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25

Metonymy

Replacing an actual word or idea, with a related word or concept.

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26

Synecdoche

A kind of metonymy when a whole is represented by naming one of its parts, or vice versa.

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27

Simile

Using words such as “like” or “as” to make a direct comparison between two very different things.

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28

Synesthesia

a description involving a “crossing of the senses.”

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29

Personification

Giving human-like qualities to something that is not human.

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30

Foreshadowing

When an author gives hints about what will occur later in a story.

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31

Genre

The major category into which a literary work fits.

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32

Gothic

Writing characterized by gloom, mystery, fear and/or death. Also refers to an architectural style of the middle ages, often seen in cathedrals of this period.

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33

Imagery

Word or words that create a picture in the reader's mind. Usually this involves the five senses. Authors often use imagery in conjunction with metaphors, similes, or figures of speech.

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34

Invective

A long, emotionally violent, attack using strong, abusive language.

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35

Irony

When the opposite of what you expect to happen does.

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36

Verbal irony

When you say something and mean the opposite/something different.

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37

Dramatic irony

When the audience of a drama, play, movie, etc. knows something that the character doesn't and would be surprised to find out.

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38

Situational irony

Found in the plot (or story line) of a book, story, or movie. Sometimes it makes you laugh because it's funny how things turn out.

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39

Juxtaposition

Placing things side by side for the purposes of comparison. Often used in order to make a point.

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40

Mood

The atmosphere created by the literature and accomplished through word choice (diction).

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41

Motif

a recurring idea in a piece of literature.

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42

Oxymoron

When apparently contradictory terms are grouped together and suggest a paradox

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43

Pacing

The speed or tempo of an author’s writing.

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44

Paradox

A seemingly contradictory situation which is actually true

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45

Parallelism (parallel structure; balanced sentences)

Sentence construction which places equal grammatical constructions near each other, or repeats identical grammatical patterns.

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46

Anaphora

Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences or clauses in a row.

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47

Chiasmus

When the same words are used twice in succession, but the second time, the order of the words is reversed.

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48

Antithesis

Two opposite or contrasting words, phrases, or clauses, or even ideas, with parallel structure.

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49

Zuegma (Syllepsis)

When a single word governs or modifies two or more other words, and the meaning of the first word must change for each of the other words it governs or modifies.

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50

Parenthetical Idea

Used to set off an idea from the rest of the sentence. It is almost considered an aside...a whisper, and should be used sparingly for effect, rather than repeatedly. Can also be used to set off dates and numbers.

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51

Parody

An exaggerated imitation of a serious work for humorous purposes. It borrows words or phrases from an original, and pokes fun at it.

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52

Persona

The fictional mask or narrator that tells a story. Do not confuse with alter-ego.

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53

Poetic device

A device used in poetry to manipulate the sound of words, sentences or lines.

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54

Alliteration

The repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words.

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55

Assonance

The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds.

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56

Consonance

The repetition of the same consonant sound at the end of words or within words.

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57

Onomatopoeia

The use of a word which imitates or suggests the sound that the thing makes.

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58

Internal rhyme

When a line of poetry contains a rhyme within a single line.

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59

Slant rhyme

When a poet creates a rhyme, but the two words do not rhyme exactly – they are merely similar.

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60

End rhyme

When the last word of two different lines of poetry rhyme.

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61

Rhyme Scheme

The pattern of a poem’s end rhymes.

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62

Stressed and unstressed syllables

In every word of more than one syllable, one of the syllables is stressed, or said with more force than the other syllable(s).

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63

Meter

A regular pattern to the syllables in lines of poetry.

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64

Free verse

Poetry that doesn’t have much meter or rhyme.

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65

Iambic pentameter

Poetry that is written in lines of 10 syllables, alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.

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66

Sonnet

A 14 line poem written in iambic pentameter. Usually divided into three quatrains and a couplet.

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67

Polysyndeton

When a writer creates a list of items which are all separated by conjunctions. Normally, a conjunction is used only before the last item in a list.

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68

Pun

When a word that has two or more meanings is used in a humorous way.

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69

Rhetoric

The art of effective communication.

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70

Aristotle’s Rhetorical Triangle

The relationships, in any piece of writing, between the writer, the audience, and the subject.

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71

Rhetorical Question

Question not asked for information but for effect.

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72

Romanticism

Art or literature characterized by an idealistic, perhaps unrealistic view of people and the world, and an emphasis on nature. Does not rely on traditional themes and structures

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73

Sarcasm

A generally bitter comment that is ironically or satirically worded.

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74

Satire

A work that reveals a critical attitude toward some element of life to a humorous effect. It targets human vices and follies, or social institutions and conventions.

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75

Sentence

A group of words (including subject and verb) that expresses a complete thought.

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76

Appositive

A word or group of words placed beside a noun or noun substitute to supplement its meaning.

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77

Clause

A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb.

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78

Balanced sentence

A sentence in which two parallel elements are set off against each other like equal weights on a scale. Both parts are parallel grammatically.

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79

Compound sentence

Contains at least two independent clauses but no dependent clauses.

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80

Complex sentence

Contains only one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

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81

Cumulative sentence

When the writer begins with an independent clause, then adds subordinate elements.

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82

Periodic sentence

When the main idea is not completed until the end of the sentence. The writer begins with subordinate elements and postpones the main clause.

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83

Simple sentence

Contains only one independent clause.

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84

Declarative sentence

States an idea. It does not give a command or request, nor does it ask a question.

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85

Imperative sentence

Issues a command.

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86

Interrogative sentence

Sentences incorporating interrogative pronouns

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87

Style

The choices in diction, tone, and syntax that a writer makes.

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88

Symbol

Anything that represents or stands for something else. Usually is something concrete such as an object, actions, character...that represents something more abstract.

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89

Syntax/sentence variety

Grammatical arrangement of words

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90

Theme

The central idea or message of a work

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91

Thesis

The sentence or groups of sentences that directly expresses the author's opinion, purpose, meaning, or proposition. It should be short and clear.

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92

Tone

A writer's attitude toward his subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language and organization.

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93

Understatement

The ironic minimizing of fact, understatement presents something as less significant than it is. The effect can frequently be humorous.

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94

Litotes

a particular form of understatement, generated by denying the opposite of the statement which otherwise would be used.

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95

Argument

a piece of reasoning with one or more premises and a conclusion. Is Also sometimes called a claim, a position, or a stance.

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Premises

Statements offered as reasons to support a conclusion

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97

Conclusion

Occurs at the end of the argument – the main point being made.

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98

Aristotle’s appeals

The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade an audience that one’s ideas are valid, or more valid than someone else's. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided all means of persuasion into three categories - ethos, pathos, and logos.

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99

Ethos

being convinced by the credibility of the author. A writer tries to convince the audience the he or she someone worth listening to

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Pathos

persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions.

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