AP English Language Vocabulary Terms A-C

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absolute

a word free from limitations or qualifications

abstraction

an idea disassociated from any specific instance; expresses a quality apart from an object

adage

a familiar proverb or wise saying

aesthetic

A guiding principle in matters of artistic beauty and taste; artistic sensibility

allegory

a story in poetry or prose in which characters, actions, or settings represent abstract ideas or moral quali¬ties; it has two meanings, one literal and one symbolic

alliteration

the repetition of initial (beginning) sounds, usually consonants, in a group of words

allusion

a reference to a mythological, literary, or historical person, place, or thing that a writer expects a reader to recognize.

ambiguity

the expression of an idea in language that suggests more than one, sometimes conflicting, meaning

anachronism

a person, period or object that does not fit into the time period of the literary work.

anadiplosis*

figure of repetition that occurs when the last word, phrase or clause in one sentence, clause, or phrase is/are repeated at or very near the beginning of the next sentence, clause, or phrase

analogy

comparison between two things to show the similarities between them

anaphora

the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines.

Anastrophe*

transposition of normal word order; most often found in Latin in the case of prepositions and the words they control.

anecdote

a very brief story, often one that makes a special point

anesis*

Adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis.

annotation

explanatory words added to a text

antecedent

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

antecedent action

action which occurs before the drama begins and revealed through the exposition or the dialogue of the characters

antimetabole*

Repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order.

antistrophe*

repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive clauses.

antithesis

a direct juxtaposition of structurally parallel words, phrases, or clauses for the purpose of contrast

aphorism

brief, clever statement about life

aporia*

expression of doubt (often feigned) by which a speaker appears uncertain as to what he should think, say, or do.

aposiopesis*

breaking off suddenly in the middle of speaking, usually to portray being overcome with emotion.

apostrophe

a form of personification in which the absent or dead are spoken to as if present and the inanimate, as if animate. These are all addressed directly.

appositio*

of an adjacent, coordinate, explanatory or descriptive element.

appositive

a noun or noun phrase that renames another noun right beside it.

archetype

an image, symbol or character type that occurs frequently in literature or myth

aside

a comment by a character in a drama which is supposed to be audible only to the audience, not to other players

assonance

the repetition of similar vowel sounds, especially in poetry

asyndeton*

lack of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses, or words.

atmosphere

The mood or pervasive feeling insinuated by a literary work.

audience

part of your rhetorical situation (speaker, subject, audience); the person or persons to whom comments are directed

bildungsroman

this genre of literature denotes the story of a single individual's growth and development within the context of a defined social order.

Cacophony

harsh joining of sounds.

cadence

the natural, rhythmic rise and fall of a language as it is normally spoken

caricature

a grotesque likeness of striking characteristics in persons or things

catachresis

a harsh metaphor involving the use of a word beyond its strict sphere.

catalog

long list of people, things, or events

catharsis

a cleansing of the spirit of the spectator at the tragedy through experiencing the emotions of pity and terror

chiasmus

A verbal pattern in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first but with the parts reversed.

cliché

an expression overused to the point that its freshness and effectiveness have worn off

colloquial/colloquialism

use of slang or informalities in speech or writing; give work a conversational, familiar tone; can include local or regional dialects

conceit

an elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are startlingly different

concrete

opposite of abstract; identifies things perceived through the senses (touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste), such as soft, stench, red, loud, or bitter.

connotation

the implied meaning of a word; all the meanings, associations, or emotions that a word suggests

consonance

the repetition of a consonant sound within a series of words to produce a harmonious effect

criticism

a particular way of evaluating a text; literary criticism is the informed analysis and evaluation of a piece of literature

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