1 Literature Terms, Rhetorical Devices, & Figurative Language
2 Alliteration Repeated consonant sounds at the beginning of words Ex: Sweet smell of successEx: Sally sells seashells down by the seashore.Ex: Hear the loud alarum bells-- Brazen bells! What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!--Edgar Allan Poe
3 AllusionCross reference to another work of art, piece of literature, historic event, landmark, etc.“She’ll be not hit with Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit.” (Romeo and Juliet)Ex: If you stub your toe and say, “D’oh!”, you’re making an allusion to The Simpsons.
4 AnadiplosisForm of repetition that occurs when the last word or terms in one sentence, clause, or phrase is/are repeated at or very near the beginning of the next sentence, clause, or phrase.Ex: "The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an Emperor. Striking story!” –Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus, GLADIATOR
5 AnalogyPoint-by-point comparison of two things that are alike in some way; usually used to explain something unfamiliar in familiar termsHot:Cold::Tall:Short
6 AnaphoraRepetition of the initial word(s) over successive phrases or clausesEx: “…I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that…
7 AntithesisTwo contrasting ideas are intentionally juxtaposed; a contrasting of opposing ideas in adjacent phrases, clauses, or sentencesEx: “That's one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind." –Neil ArmstrongEx: "We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change." --JFK
8 ApostropheA figure of speech in which someone absent or dead OR something nonhuman is addressed as if he/she/it were alive and present.Ex: “O books who alone are liberal and free, who give to all who ask of you and enfranchise all who serve you faithfully!”-- Richard de Bury
9 Assonance Repeated vowel sounds Ex: "Old age should burn and rave at close of day;Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”--Dylan Thomas,"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"
10 Asyndetona string of words not separated by normally occurring conjunctionsEx: “…You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich….”—Bubba in Forrest Gump"We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line."
11 Connotation Attitude or feeling associated with a term Example: Enthusiastic=positiveRowdy=negative
12 Consonance Repetition of consonant sounds within or at end of words Example: lonely afternoon
13 Denotation Dictionary definition Opposite of connotation Example: I drive a cheap car.Denotation=inexpensiveConnotation=piece of junk
14 DetailsSpecifics that the author includes in the text. Usually concrete nouns.
15 DialectForm of language spoken in a particular geographic area or by a particular social or ethnic groupExample: “Who ask you be genius?” she shouted. “Only ask you be your best. For your sake. You think I want you be genius?” (Amy Tan, “Two Kinds”)
16 DialogueWritten conversation between two or more characters
17 Diction Word Choice that expresses tone or attitude. Ex: “World, I wish you would sort of take him by the hand, and gently…”
18 EpanalepsisBeginning and ending a phrase or clause with the same word or wordsEx: “Mankind must put an end to war--or war will put an end to mankind.” –JFKEx: “Be all that you can be.” –U.S. Army
19 EpicLong, narrative poem on a serious subject, presented in an elevated or formal styleTraces the adventures of a great hero whose actions reflect the ideals and values of a nation or raceExamples: The Illiad and The Odyssey
20 Epic HeroLarger-than-life figure who embodies the ideals of a nation or raceTake part in dangerous adventures and accomplish great deedsMay undertake long, difficult journeys and display super-human strengthExample: Odysseus
21 Epic SimileHomeric (or Epic) Simile - an extended, elaborated, ornate simile developed in a lengthy descriptive passage“He eats in bird-like quantities, accepting tiny portions at fleeting intervals, as the sparrow perched above the rose bush snatches the small green aphids from the dewy leaf.”
22 EpistropheRepetition of a word or words at the end of successive phrases or clauses.
23 EpithetBrief phrase that points out traits associated with a particular character.Odysseus=“the master strategist”
24 Euphemismsubstitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the listenerEx: “Let go” (instead of “Fired”)Ex: “Pre-owned” (instead of “Used”)
25 Figurative Language Language that is not meant literally Umbrella term for other lit terms. Examples of figurative language include simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole
26 FlashbackInterrupts a story to relate an event that occurred in the pastEx: “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn't have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.” –Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
27 ForeshadowingAn author drops subtle hints about plot developments to come later in the storyEx: In Where the Red Fern Grows, there is a dog fight in the beginning, and a dog is wounded exactly like a dog is wounded later in the book.Ex: In Star Wars: Episode II, Obi-Wan Kenobi says to Anakin Skywalker, "Why do I get the feeling you will be the death of me?" He is later killed by Darth Vader (a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker).
28 Hyperbole An extreme exaggeration Ex: It would take a bazillion years to get through Medical School.He's 900 years old.There are millions of other things to do.He was running faster than the speed of light.I am so tired I could sleep for a year.He is as skinny as a toothpick.
29 ImageryDescriptive words and phrases used in literature which appeal to one or more of the five senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch) and create word pictures in the mind of the readerVisual - something described through sight, appears most commonly in poetry. Auditory - representation of a soundOlfactory - representation of a smellGustatory - representation of a tasteTactile - touch: hardness, softness, wetness, heat, coldEx: “Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” -James Earl Jones as Terence Mann, Field of Dreams
30 InferenceThe process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true
31 IronyDramatic: the audience knows something that the characters do notVerbal: character says one thing and means another (sarcasm)Situational: an incongruity between the intended meaning of an action and the actual or perceived meaning of an actionEx: A man steps backward to avoid getting sprayed by a sprinkler only to fall in a swimming pool.
32 JuxtapositionPlacing two objects or ideas near one another for comparison, contrast, or other effect.“…and swiftly ran through all his evening chores. Then he caught two more men and feasted on them.” (juxtaposition of the mundane chores with the heinous)
33 Metaphor Comparing 2 things (without using like or as) Ex: Life is a journey.This is our roadmap to peace.“All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances;”(Shakespeare, As You Like It)
34 Mood The atmosphere of a literary piece. The vibe or emotions that the writer attempts to evoke from the reader.
35 Motifrecurring element that has symbolic significance in the storydevices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.can be an idea, an object, a place, or a statementEx: The Of Mice and Men author, John Steinbeck, uses animals as repeated symbols throughout his books.
36 OnomatopoeiaWords that sound like what they are (or words that imitate sounds)Ex: Snap, crackle, pop!
37 Overstatement Synonym for hyperbole Extreme exaggeration “I have told you a thousand times to stop exaggerating!”
39 ParadoxSomething that seems to contradict itself, but actually expresses a truth.Ex:“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” --Alexander Pope"The swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot." --Henry David Thoreau, Walden"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." --George Orwell, 1984
40 Parallel StructureSuccessive words, phrases, clauses with the same or very similar grammatical structure.Ex: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." --JFK
41 PersonificationGiving humanlike characteristics to an inanimate objectEx: “The Wind” by James StephensThe wind stood up and gave a shout. He whistled on his fingers and Kicked the withered leaves about And thumped the branches with his hand And said he'd kill and kill and kill, And so he will and so he will.
42 PolysyndetonThe deliberate and excessive use of conjunctions in successive words or clausesEx: “Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him because he can take it. Because he's not our hero.” –Lt. Gordon, The Dark Knight
43 PunPlay on wordsEx: I couldn't quite remember how to throw a boomerang, but eventually it came back to me.Ex: What do you call cheese that doesn’t belong to you? Nacho cheese!Ex: I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.Ex: I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
44 RepetitionRepeating words; rhetorical strategy for producing emphasis, clarity, amplification, or emotional effectMany types: anaphora, polysyndeton, etc.Ex: “And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” (Robert Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening")
45 Rhetorical FragmentA word or phrase that is not a complete sentence but punctuated as one.In other words, a fragment used on purpose.
46 Rhetorical Questionfigure of speech in the form of a question posed for rhetorical effect rather than to receive an answerEx: "Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do 'practice'?” –George CarlinEx: In The Simpsons, Lisa is singing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," "How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?”Overhearing her, Homer shouts out, "Eight!"Lisa: That was a rhetorical question! Homer: Oh. Then, seven! Lisa: Do you even know what rhetorical means? Homer: Do I know what rhetorical means?"
47 SatireLiterary technique in which ideas, behaviors, institutions, etc. are ridiculed for the purpose of improving society.The Onion
48 Simile Comparing 2 things using like, as, resembles, than Ex: "Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” –Carl SandburgEx: “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.’” –Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump“They were people, but lived like animals.” (Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird)
49 Symbolism Something that represents something beyond itself Ex: The American flag symbolizes freedom.An owl symbolizes wisdom.The phoenix symbolizes rebirth.The dove symbolizes peace.
50 SyntaxArrangement of words in a sentence; choice of word order; sentence structure or style. This term is an umbrella term for a number of rhetorical strategies.
51 Theme The central message of a literary work. It is expressed as a SENTENCE or general statement about life or human nature.One word is NOT a theme; it is a big idea or subject. In other words, it would be incorrect to say that love is a theme in Romeo and Juliet.
52 Tragic HeroA dignified character in a tragedy who experiences a downfall due to a fatal character flawExample: Romeo; Odysseus
54 UnderstatementForm of irony in which a writer intentionally makes a situation seem less important or serious than it isExample: “It’s just a flesh wound.” (The Black Knight, after having both arms cut off, in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
55 VoiceA writer’s unique use of language that allows a reader to “hear” a human personality in the workIncludes syntax, diction, and tone