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Glossary of Literary Terms

  • alliteration
    repetition of the same sounds or of the same type of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables
  • assonance
    repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds
  • consonance
    repetition of consonants or of a consonant pattern, especially at the ends of words
  • ellipsis
    omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete construction of a phrase or sentence but not necessary for understanding
  • foot
    a section from a line of verse
  • free verse
    verse with no regular pattern in either rhyme or line length
  • half-rhyme
    partial or imperfect rhyme, often using assonance or consonance (also known as imperfect rhyme and pararhyme)
  • iambic
    a foot of verse which uses unstressed, followed by stressed syllables
  • iambic pentameter
    a common meter in poetry consisting of an unrhymed line with five feet, each foot containing an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable
  • imagery
    use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas
  • metaphor
    figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison
  • onomatopoeia
    formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions to which they refer
  • oxymoron
    figure of speech in which contradictory terms are combined
  • parable
    simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson
  • simile
    figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, in a phrase containing such words as: like or as
  • syntax
    the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences, to express a meaning