AP English Vocabulary

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Abstract

refers to language that describes concepts rather than concrete images ( ideas and qualities rather than observable or specific things, people, or places). The observable or "physical" is usually described in concrete language.

Ad Hominem

In an argument, this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent's ideas. It comes from the Latin meaning "against the man."

Allegory

an extended narrative in prose or verse in which characters, events, and settings represent abstract qualities and in which the writer intends a second meaning to be read beneath the surface of the story.

Analogy

Comparison of two similar but different things, usually to clarify an action or a relationship, such as comparing the work of a heart to that of a pump.

Anaphora

Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row; helps make the writer's point more coherent. (Ex: "There was the delight I caught...There was the faint...There was the vague sense....")

Anecdote

a short, simple narrative of an incident; often used for humorous effect or to make a point.

Annotation

Explanatory notes added to a text to explain, cite sources, or give bibliographical data.

Antithesis

the presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by word, phrase, clause, or paragraphs. "To be or not to be..." "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country...."

Aphorism

a short, often witty statement of a principle or a truth about life: "Early bird gets the worm."

Apostrophe

usually in poetry but sometimes in prose; the device of calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person or to a place, thing, or personified abstraction

Assonance

repetition of vowel sounds between different consonants, such as in neigh/fade

Asyndeton

Commas used to separate a series of words. The parts are emphasized equally; flow speeds up. Asyndeton takes the form of X, Y, Z as opposed to X, Y, and Z.

Coherence

quality of a piece of writing in which all the parts contribute to the development of the central idea, theme, or organizing principle

Consonance

repetition of identical consonant sounds within two or more words in close proximity, as in boost/best; it can also be seen within several compound words, such as fulfill and ping-pong

Description

the picturing in words of something or someone through detailed observation of color, motion, sound, taste, smell, and touch; one of the four modes of discourse

Diction

word choice, an element of style; creates tone, attitude, and style, as well as meaning. An essay written in academic diction would be much less colorful, but perhaps more precise than street slang.

Didactic

writing whose purpose is to instruct or to teach. A didactic work is usually formal and focuses on moral or ethical concerns. May be fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.

Discourse

spoken or written language, including literary works; the four traditionally classified modes of discourse are description, exposition, narration, and persuasion.

Dissonance

harsh or grating sounds that do not go together

Epigraph

the use of a quotation at the beginning of a work that hints at its theme. Hemingway begins The Sun Also Rises with two epigraphs. One of them is "You are all a lost generation" by Gertrude Stein.

Euphony

a succession of harmonious sounds used in poetry or prose; the opposite of cacophony

Example

An individual instance taken to be representative of a general pattern. Arguing by example is considered reliable if examples are demonstrable true or factual as well as relevant.

Explication

The art of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text. Usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.

Exposition

the immediate revelation to the audience of the setting and other background information necessary for understanding the plot; also, explanation; one of the four modes of discourse

Extended Metaphor

a sustained comparison, often referred to as a conceit. Is developed throughout a piece of writing

Figurative Language

language that contains figures of speech, such as similes and metaphors, in order to create associations that are imaginative rather than literal.

Figures of Speech

expressions, such as similes, metaphors, and personifications, that make imaginative, rather than literal, comparisons or associations.

Freight-Train

Sentence consisting of three or more very short independent clauses joined by conjunctions.

Generalization

When a writer bases a claim upon an isolated example or asserts that a claim is certain rather than probable. Sweeping _____s occur when a writer asserts that a claim applies to all instances instead of some.

Hyperbole

deliberate exaggeration in order to create humor or emphasis (Ex: He was so hungry he could have eaten a horse.)

Image

A word or words, either figurative or literal, used to describe a sensory experience or an object perceived by the sense. Always a concrete representation.

Imagery

words or phrases that use a collection of images to appeal to one or more of the five senses in order to create a mental picture

Induction

the process that moves from a given series of specifics to a generalization

Inference

a conclusion one can draw from the presented details

Interior Monologue

writing that records the conversation that occurs inside a character's head

Invective

a verbally abusive attack

Inversion

reversing the customary (subject first, then verb, then complement) order of elements in a sentence or phrase. Usually, the element that appears first is emphasized more than the subject.

Irony

a situation or statement in which the actual outcome or meaning is opposite to what was expected.

Metonymy

a figure of speech that uses the name of an object, person, or idea to represent something with which it is associated, such as using "the crown" to refer to a monarch ; Also, "The pen is mightier than the sword."

Mode

the method or form of a literary work; the manner in which a work of literature is written

Mood

similar to tone, mood is the primary emotional attitude of a work (the feeling of the work; the atmosphere). Syntax is also a determiner of mood because sentence strength, length, and complexity affect pacing.

Moral

The lesson drawn from a fictional or non-fictional story. It can also mean a heavily didactic story.

Narration

the telling of a story in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or drama; one of the four modes of discourse

Oversimplification

When a writer obscures or denies the complexity of the issues in an argument

Oxymoron

a figure of speech composed of contradictory words or phrases, such as "wise fool," bitter-sweet," "pretty ugly," "jumbo shrimp," "cold fire"

Pacing

the movement of a literary piece from one point or one section to another

Parallelism

the technique of arranging words, phrases, clauses, or larger structures by placing them side by side and making them similar in form. Ex: "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields."

Pathos

the aspects of a literary work that elicit sorrow or pity from the audience. An appeal to emotion that can be used as a means to persuade. Over-emotionalism can be the result of an excess of pathos.

Pedantic

a term used to describe writing that borders on lecturing. It is scholarly and academic and often overly difficult and distant

Persuasion

a form of argumentation, one of the four modes of discourse; language intended to convince through appeals to reason or emotion.

Point of View

the perspective from which a story is presented; common ones include first person narrator, stream of consciousness, omniscient, limited omniscient and objective

First person narrator

A point of view in which a narrator, referred to as "I," who is a character in the story and relates the actions through his or her own perspective, also revealing his or her own thoughts

Stream of Consciousness

A point of view like a first person narrator, but placing reader inside the character's head, making the reader privy to the continuous, chaotic flow of disconnected, half-formed thoughts and impressions in the character's mind

Omniscient

A point of view in which third person narrator, referred to as "he," "she," or "they," who is able to see into each character's mind and understands all the action

Limited Omniscient

A point of view in which a third person narrator who reports the thoughts of only one character and generally only what that one character sees

Objective

A point of view in which a third person narrator who only reports what would be visible to a camera; thoughts and feelings are only revealed if a character speaks of them

Polysyndeton

Sentence which uses and or another conjunction (with no commas) to separate the items in a series. Appears in the form of X and Y and Z, stressing each equally. It makes the sentence slower and the items more emphatic than in the asyndeton.

Red Herring

When a writer raises an irrelevant issue to draw attention away from the real issue

Regionalism

an element in literature that conveys a realistic portrayal of a specific geographical locale, using the locale and its influences as a major part of the plot

Repetition

Word or phrase used two or more times in close proximity

Rhetoric

The art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse; Rhetoric focuses on the interrelationship of invention, arrangement, and style in order to create felicitous and appropriate discourse.

Rhetorical modes

exposition, description, narration, argumentation

Style

an author's characteristic manner of expression - his or her diction, syntax, imagery, structure, and content all contribute to style

Subjectivity

a personal presentation of evens and characters, influenced by the author's feelings and opinions

Syllogism

A form of reasoning in which two statements are made and a conclusion is drawn from them; consists of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. Ex: Major: All tragedies end unhappily. Minor: Hamlet is a tragedy. Conclusion: Hamlet ends unhappily.

Symbolism

the use of symbols or anything that is meant to be taken both literally and as representative of a higher and more complex significance

Tone

the characteristic emotion or attitude of an author toward the characters, subject, and audience (anger, sarcastic, loving, didactic, emotional, etc.)

Understatement

the opposite of exaggeration. It is a technique for developing irony and/or humor where one writes or says less than intended.

Voice

refers to two different areas of writing. One refers to the relationship between a sentence's subject and verb (active and passive voice). The second refers to the total "sound" of a writer's style.

litotes

a rhetorical device that is used to express an understatement.

synecdoche

using a part to signify the whole

metonymy

substituting an attribute of a thing for the thing itself

allegory

related to symbolism, it is a form of a narrative in which people, places, and happenings have hidden or symbolic meaning. It is different than symbolism because it establishes a strict system of correspondence between details of action and a pattern of meaning.

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