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Key Terminology

Allegory

A narrative in which the characters, behavior, and even the setting demonstrate multiple
levels of meaning and significance.
EX: Cupid portrayed as a chubby angel with a bow and arrows.

Alliteration

The sequential repetition of a similar initial sound, usually applied to consonants, usually
in closely proximate stressed syllables.
EX: "She sells sea shells by the sea shore:'

Allusion

A literary, historical, religious, or mythological reference.
EX: One might contrast the
life and tribulations of Frederick Douglass to the trials of Job.

Anaphora

The regular repetition of the same words or phrases at the beginning of successive
phrases of clauses.
EX: "To raise a happy, healthful, and hopeful child, it
takes afamily; it takes teachers; it takes clergy; it takes business people; it takes community leaders; it
takes those who protect our health and safety; it takes all of us:'

Antithesis

The juxtaposition of sharply contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words, phrases
grammatical structure, or ideas.
EX: Alexander Pope reminds us that "To err is human, to forgive divine:'

Aphorism

A concise statement designed to make a point or Illustrate a commonly held belief.
EX: "Spare the rod and spoil the child"

Apostrophe

An address or invocation to something inanimate.
EX: When the slave Frederick
Douglass exclaims as he looks upon the ships in the Chesapeake Bay: "I would pour out my soul's
complaint, in my rude way, with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of ships."

Appeals to ... authority, emotion, or logic

Rhetorical arguments in which the speaker claims to be an authority or expert in a field, or attempts to play upon the emotions, or appeals to the use of
reason.
EX: Classically trained rhetoricians identify these appeals with their Greek names: ethos is
authority, logos is logic, and pathos is emotion.

Assonance

The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually in successive or proximate
words.
EX: "She sells sea shells by the sea shore."

Asyndeton

A syntactical structure in which conjunctions are omitted in a series, usually producing
more rapid prose.
EX: "Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered),"

Attitude

The sense expressed by the tone of voice or the mood of a piece of writing; the author's
feelings toward his or her subject, characters, events, or theme. It might even ,be his or her feelings
for the reader.
EX: The way the author portrays Katniss as a strong independent woman.

Begging the question

An argumentative ploy where the arguer sidesteps the question or the conflict, evades or ignores the real question.
EX: When a guilty child avoids answering a question that could get then in trouble by changing the subject.

Cannon

That which has been accepted as authentic.
EX: Cannon law, or the "Cannon
according to the Theories of Einstein:'

Chiasmus

A figure of speech and generally a syntactical structure wherein the order of the terms in
the first half of a parallel clause is reversed in the second.
EX: "He thinks I am but a fool. A
fool, perhaps I am"

Claim

In argumentation, an assertion of something as fact.
EX: "You should send a birthday card to Mimi, because she sent you one on your birthday."

Colloquial

A term identifying the diction of the common, ordinary folks, especially In a specific
region or area.
EX: Most people expect Southerners to use the colloquial expression, Y'all" to engage the attention of a group of people.

Comparison and contrast

A mode of discourse in which two or more things are compared, contrasted, or both.
EX: On the 1993 English Language exam, students were asked to contrast two
marriage proposals taken from literature, analyzed for. the use the narrators made of rhetorical devices
and their argumentative success.

Connotation

The implied, suggested, or underlying meaning of a word or phrase.
EX: "We keep the wall between us as we go." -Robert Frost. The wall is also an emotional barrier.

Conceit

A comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out within a piece of literature.
EX: Richard Selzer's passage "The Knife" compares the preparation and actions of
surgery to preparing for and conducting a religious service or a sacred ritual.

Consonance

The repetition of two or more consonants with a change in the intervening vowels.
EX: Pitter-patter, splish-splash, and click-clack.

Convention

An accepted manner, model, or tradition.
EX: Aristotle's conventions of
tragedy.

Critique

An assessment or analysis of something, such as a passage of writing, for the purpose of
determining what it is, what its limitations are, and how it conforms to the standard of the genre.
EX: A critique on a movie can help someone choose which one they would like to see.

Deductive reasoning (deduction)

The method of argument in which specific statements and conclusions are drawn from general principals.
EX: Everything made of copper conducts electricity.
This wire is made of copper.
This wire will conduct electricity.

Dialect

The language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific area, region, or group.
EX: Minnesotans say "you betcha" when they agree with you.

Diction

The specific word choice an author uses to persuade or convey tone, purpose, or effect.
EX: Words like cloudy, dark, droopy may convey a depressing tone.

Didactic

Writing or speech is didactic when it has an
instructive purpose or a lesson.
EX: Some of Aesop's fables are didactic in that they maintain an underlying moral or social message.

Elegy

A poem or prose work that laments, or meditates upon the death of, a person or persons.
EX: "Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,/Compels me to disturb your season due:/For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,/Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer"-"Lycidas" by John Milton

Epistrophe

In rhetoric, the repetition of a phrase at the end of successive sentences.
EX: "If women are healthy and educated, their families wiil flourish. If women are free from violence, their
families will flourish. If women have a chance to work ... their families will flourish." (Hiliary Clinton,
October 1, 1995)

Epitaph

Writing in praise of a dead person, most often inscribed upon a headstone.
EX: "He was a great person. Rest In Peace."

Ethos

In rhetoric, the appeal of a text to the credibility and character of the speaker, writer, or narrator.
EX: When a trusted doctor gives you advice, you may not understand all of the medical reasoning behind the advice, but you nonetheless follow the directions because you believe that the doctor knows what s/he is talking about.

Euphemism

An indirect, kinder, or less harsh or hurtful way of expressing unpleasant information.
EX: For instance, it is much nicer for a person who has just been given a pink slip to hear that she has
been made redundant, rather than she has hereby been terminated.

Exposition

The interpretation or analysis of a text.
EX: Someone's point of view on a text.

Eulogy

A speech or written passage In praise of a person; an oration in honor of a deceased person.
EX: Many eulogies were spoken in honor of the brave New York Fire Fighters who heroically lost their lives on 9/11.

Extended metaphor

A series of comparisons within a piece of writing.
EX: He is the pointing gun, we are the bullets of his desire.
All the world's a stage and men and women merely players.
Let me count my loves of thee, my rose garden, my heart, my fixed mark, my beginning and my end.

Figurative language/Figure of speech

Figur-ative (in contrast to literal) language has levels of meaning expressed through figures of speech.
EX: personification, metaphor, hyperbole, irony,
oxymoron, litote, and others.

Flashback

An earlier event is inserted into the normal chronology of the narration.
EX: When someone remembers something that happened in the past.

Genre

A type or class of literature.
EX: epic, narrative, poetry, biography, history.

Homily

A sermon, but more contemporary uses include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving
moral or spiritual life.
EX: John Donne was known for his homilies, among other things.

Hyperbole

Overstatement characterized by exaggerated language, usually to make a point or draw
attention.
EX: If in a state of exhaustion you say "I'm really beat," that is hyperbole.

Imagery

Broadly defined, any ,sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the use of
figurative language to evoke a feeling, to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object.
EX: "Her cheeks were rosy and so was my love
bursting with fragrance and softness."

Inductive reasoning (induction)

The method of reasoning or argument in which general statements
and conclusions are drawn from specific principals.
EX: 90% of humans are right-handed.
Joe is a human.
Therefore, the probability that Joe is right-handed is 90%.

Inference

A conclusion or proposition arrived at by considering facts, observations, or some other
specific data.
EX: Sherlock Holmes made a lot of inferences by looking at clues.

Irony (ironic)

The contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant. The intended
meaning is often the opposite of what is stated, often suggesting light sarcasm.
EX: The firefighter's house caught on fire while he was at work.

Verbal Irony

What the author/narrator says is actually the opposite of what is meant.
EX: Dad is finally out of patience with picking up after his son, who can't seem to be trained to put his dirty clothes in the hamper instead of letting them drop wherever he happens to be when he takes them off. "Would Milord please let me know when it pleases him to have his humble servant pick up after him?"

Situational Irony

When events end up the opposite of what is expected.
EX: You buy yourself something after months of saving and then someone gets it for you for Christmas.

Dramatic Irony

In drama and fiction, facts or situations are known to the reader or audience but not to the characters.
EX: When a detective has not yet solved a case but the audience knows what really happened.

Isocolon

Parallel structure in which the parallel elements are similar not only in grammatical
structure, but also in length.
EX: The Biblical admonition: "Many are called, but few are chosen" is an isocolon.

Jargon

Specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group.
EX: The computer industry, for example, has introduced much Jargon into our vocabulary, such as geek, crash, interface, down, delete, virus, and bug .

Juxtaposition

The location of one thing adjacent to or juxtaposed with another to create an effect,
reveal an attitude, or accomplish some other purpose.
EX: BLACK/WHITE-
Bernard uses black rocks on the white sand in order to build his sign

Litote

A figure of speech that emphasizes its subject by conscious understatement.
EX: The understated "not bad" as a comment about something especially well done.

Loose sentence

A long sentence that starts with its main clause, which is followed by several dependent clauses and modifying phrases.
EX: "The child ran, frenzied
and ignoring all hazards, as if being chased by demons."

Metaphor

One thing pictured as if it were something else, suggesting a likeness or analogy.
Metaphor is an implicit comparison or identification of one thing with another, without the use of a
verbal signal such as like or as.
EX: Shakespeare's Romeo says, "It is the east and Juliet is the sun,"
directly comparing Juliet to the sun. Sometimes the term metaphor is used as a general term for any
figu re of speech.

Metonyrny

A figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name
or designate something
EX: "Buckingham Palace announced today ... "

Mode of discourse

The way in which information is presented in written or spoken form.
EX: Satiric, ironic, comic, pastoral.

Mood

A feeling or ambience resulting from the tone of a piece as well as the writer/narrator's
attitude and point of view.
EX: Sadness

Narrative

A mode of discourse that tells a story of some sort and it is based on sequences of
connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework.
EX: The Hunger Games- the story.

Onomatopoeia

A word capturing or approximating the sound of what it describes.
EX: "Becca whacked the ball over the fence and took her time walking the bases"

Oxymoron

A figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory elements.
EX: "Wise fool"

Paradox

A statement that seems contradictory but may probably be true.
EX: "fight for peace"

Parallel structure

The use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts.
EX: "Jane enjoys reading and writing"

Pathos

That element in literature that stimulates pity or sorrow In argument or persuasion it tends to
be the evocation of pity from the reader/listener.
EX: The "poor starving children" approach.

Periodic sentence-, For
example, "The
child, who looked as if she were being chased by demons, frenzied and ignoring all hazards, ran:'

A long sentence in which the main clause is not completed until the end.
EX: "Looking as if she were being chased by demons, ignoring all hazards, the child ran."

Personification

Treating an abstraction or nonhuman object as if it were a person by endowing it
with human features or qualities.
EX: "The flower thanked the woman for watering it."

Point of View

The relation in which a narrator/author stands to a subject of discourse.
EX: Reading a book in the first- person.

Prose

The ordinary form of written language without metrical structure in contrast to verse and
poetry.
EX: Nonfictional prose, heroic prose, prose poem.

Realism

Attempting to describe nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail.
EX: The tree was ten feet tall and had green leaves that hung from the long brown branches.

Rebuttal/refutation

An argument technique wherein opposing arguments are anticipated and countered.
EX: Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, some people had suggested that opposing the invasion was unpatriotic because it meant opposing the president of the United States. Dionne rejected that suggestion. If that were the case, Dionne argued, then Abraham Lincoln was an unpatriotic appeaser for opposing the Mexican War as a young congressman in the 1840's.

Rhetoric

The art of using words to persuade in writing or speaking.
EX: When you listen to the most bumbling tribute at a retirement party or the most inspiring halftime talk from a football coach, you are hearing rhetoric

Rhetorical question

A question that is asked simply for the sake of stylistic effect and is not expected to be answered.
EX: When a parent asks "Where have you been?" even though they know what their child has been doing.

Sarcasm

A form of verbal irony in which apparent praise is actually critical.
EX: When a parent tells their child to be safe and the child replies, "No, I'm going to go out and do every risky thing possible," even though they really are not.

Satire

A literary work that holds up human failings to ridicule and censure.
EX: "The Company Man," a satire attacking the struggle for
corporate survival by the little man by columnist Ellen Goodman

Simile

A direct, explicit comparison of one thing to another, usually using the words like or as to
draw the connection.
EX: Charles Dickens wrote: '"There was a steamy mist in all the hollows, and it had roared in its forlornness up the hill like an evil spirit"

Style

The manner in which a writer combines and arranges words, shapes ideas, and utilizes syntax and structure. It is the distinctive manner of expression that represents that author's typical writing.
EX: When an author usually ends their stories with a twist.

Symbolism

Use of a person, place, thing, event, or pattern that figuratively represents or "stands for" something else. Often the thing or idea represented is more abstract or general than the symbol,
which is concrete.
EX: An eagle representing freedom.

Synecdoche

A figure ofspeech in which a part signifies the whole.
EX: "Fifty masts" representing fifty ships or "100 head- of steer had to be moved to their grazing land:'

Syntax

The way words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences. Syntax is sentence structure and how it influences the way the reader receives a particular piece of writing.
EX: The young man carries the lady vs. The lady carries the young man.

Theme

The central or dominant idea or focus of a work. The statement a passage makes about it's subject.
EX: A theme in Romeo and Juliet is love is a cause of violence.

Tone

The attitude the narrator/writer takes toward a subject and theme; the tenor of a piece of writing based on particular stylistic devices employed by the writer. Tone reflects the narrator/author's attitude.
EX: Forceful, gullible, grim, hypercritical, etc.

Voice

The acknowledged or unacknowledged source of the words of the story; the speaker's or narrator's particular "take" on an idea based on a particular passage and how all the elements of the style of the piece come together to express his or her feelings.
EX: The poet Sylvia Plath's voice, for example, might be called that of a victimized daughter, wife, and mother.

Zeugma

A grammatically correct construction in which a word, usually a verb or adjective, is applied to two or more nouns without being repeated.
EX: "The thief took my wallet and the Fifth Avenue bus."

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