Advertisement Upgrade to remove ads

Alliteration

The repetition of identical or similar consonant sounds. The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. Ex: Alice's aunt ate apples and acorns around August

Allusion

An expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference. Ex: To His Coy Mistress in T.S. Eliot poem

Antithesis

A person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else. A contrast or opposition between two things. Ex: "Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing."

Apostrophe

: A figure of speech in which some absent or nonexistent person or thing is addressed as if present and capable of understanding. Ex:"Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky."

Assonance

In poetry, the repetition of the sound of a vowel or diphthong in nonrhyming stressed syllables (e.g., penitence, reticence). Ex: "Laid" "waste" "slain"

Ballad Meter

A four-line stanza rhymed abdc with four feet in lines and one and three and three feet in lines two and four. Ex:Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The Carriage held but just Ourselves And Immortality

Blank Verse

Unrhymed iambic pentameter. Blank verse is the meter of most Shakespeare's plays.

Cacophony

A harsh, unpleasant combination of sounds or tomes. It may be an unconscious flaw in the poet's music, resulting in harshness of sound or difficulty of articulation, or it may be used consciously for effect, as Eliot often used it. Ex: Breakers crashed onto jagged rocks and clawed the sands with brutal strikes, pummeling the beach

Caesura

A pause, usually near the middle of a line of verse, usually indicated by the sense of the line, and often greater than the normal pause. For example, one would naturally pause after "human" in the following line: To err is human, to forgive divine.

Conceit

Excessive pride in oneself.
A fanciful expression in writing or speech; an elaborate metaphor.
Ex: "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" in which he compares his soul and his wife's to legs of a mathematical compass

Consonance

The recurrence of similar sounds, esp. consonants, in close proximity. Ex: "Add and read" "bill and ball" "born and burn"

Couplet

A two-line stanza, usually with end-rhymes the same. Ex: Blessed are you whose worthiness gives scope,/Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.

Devices of sound

The techniques of developing the sound of words. Among the devices of sound are rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance, and onomatopeia. The devices are used for many reasons, including to create a general effect of pleasant or of discordant sound, to imitate another sound, or to reflect a meaning.

Diction

the use of words in a literary works. Diction may be described as formal, informal, colloquial, or slang.

Didactic Poem

A poem which is intended primarily to teach a lesson. It usually involves a subject of judgment of the author's purpose on the part of the critic or reader.

Dramatic Poem

A poem which employs a dramatic form or some element or elements of dramatic techniques as a means of achieving poetic ends. Ex: Dramatic monologue.

Elegy

A poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead.
A piece of music in a mournful style

End-stopped

A line with a pause at the end. Lines that end with a period, comma, colon, semicolon, exclamation point, or question mark are end-stopped lines.
Ex: And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear.

Enjambment

The continuation of a syntactic unit from one line of verse into the next line without a pause.
Ex: ... i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

Extended Metaphor

An implied analogy, or comparison, which is carried throughout a stanza or an entire poem.

Euphony

The quality of being pleasing to the ear, esp. through a harmonious combination of words.
The tendency to make phonetic change for ease of pronunciation

Eye rhyme/ sight rhyme

rhyme that appears correct from spelling but is half-rhyme or slant rhyme from the pronunciation.
Ex: "watch" and "match" or "love" and "move"

Feminine Rhyme

A rhyme of two syllables, one stressed and one unstressed, as "waken" and "forsaken" and "audition" and "rendition". Also called double rhyme.

Figurative Language

Writing that uses figures of speech such as metaphor, irony, and simile. F.L uses words to mean something else than their literal meaning.

Free Verse

Poetry which is not written in a traditional meter and does not rhyme but is still rhythmical.

Heroic Couplet

A pair of rhyming iambic pentameters. AA BB CC
Ex: Nor let him then enjoy supreme command;
But fall, untimely, by some hostile hand,
And lie unburied on the barren sand!

Hyperbole

Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

Imagery

Visually descriptive or figurative language, esp. in a literary work: "Tennyson uses imagery to create a lyrical emotion".
Visual images collectively.

Irony

The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Internal Rhyme

Rhyme that occurs within a line, rather than at the end.
Ex: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary
While I nodded, nearly napping...suddenly there came a tapping

Lyric Poem

Any short poem that represents a single speaker who expresses thoughts and feelings. lyric: a short poem of songlike quality.
Ex: Sonnets and odes

Masculine Rhyme

Rhyme that falls on the stressed and concluding syllables of the rhyme-words. Ex: "keep" "sleep" and "no" "glow" and "spell" "impel"

Metaphor

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, esp. something abstract.
Ex: "The black bat night"

Meter

The rhythm of a piece of poetry, determined by the number and length of feet in a line.

Metonymy

The substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant, for example suit for business executive or crown for king.

Mixed Metaphors

A combination of two or more incompatible metaphors.
Ex: "Mr. Speaker, I smell a rat. I see him floating in the air."

Narrative Poem

A non-dramatic poem which tells a story or presents a narrative, whether simple or complex, long or short. Epics and ballads are examples of narrative poems.

Octave

An eight-line stanza.

Onomatopeia

The use of words whose sound suggests their meaning.
Ex: "buzz" "hiss" "honk" "splash" "whoosh"

Oxymoron

A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. Paradox.
Ex: "wise fool", "sad joy". "eloquent silence"

Paradox

A situation or action or feeling that appears to be contradictory but on inspection turns out to be true or at least to make sense.

Parallelism

A similar grammatical structure within a line or lines of poetry.

Personification

A kind of metaphor that gives inanimate objects or abstract ideas human characteristics.

Poetic Foot

A group of syllables in verse usually consisting of one accented syllable and one or two unaccented syllables associated with it.
Ex: Iambic U/
Trochaic /U
Anapestic UU/
Dactylic /UU
Pyrrhic UU
Spondaic //

Pun

A joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.
Ex: Let's talk about rights and lefts. You're right, so I left.

Quatrain

A four-line stanza with any combination of rhymes

Refrain

A repeated line or number of lines in a poem or song, typically at the end of each verse

Rhyme

Correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, esp. when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry.
Ex: Fan and ran

Rhythm

A strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. The recurrence of stress and unstressed syllables.

Sarcasm

The use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Scansion

A system for describing the meter of a poem by identifying the number and the types of feet per line

Sestet

A six-line stanza.

Simile

A figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind. Uses words "like" and "as".

Sonnet

Normally a fourteen-line iambic pentameter poem. The conventional Italian, or Petrarchan sonnet is rhymed aba, cde, cde. Shakespearean, or English sonnet is rhymed abab, cdcd, efef, gg.

Stanza

Usually a repeated grouping of three or more lines with the same meter and rhyme scheme.

Symbol

Something that is simultaneously itself and a sign of something else. For example, winter, darkness, and cold are real things, but in literature they are also likely to be used as symbols of death.

Synecdoche

A form of metaphor which in mentioning a part signifies the whole. For example, we refer to "foot soldiers" for infantry and "field hands" for manual laborers who work in agriculture.

Syntax

The ordering of words into patterns or sentences.
Ex: The young man carries the lady.
The lady carries the young man.

Tercet

A stanza of three-lines in which each line ends with the same rhyme

Theme

The main thought expressed by a work. In poetry, it is the abstract concept which is made concrete through its repetition in person, action, and image in the work.

Tone

A writer's attitude toward subject, audience, and self.
Tone is primarily conveyed through diction, point of view, syntax, and level of formality.

Understatement

The opposite of hyperbole. It is a kind of irony that deliberately represents something as being much less than it really is. For example, Macbeth, having been nearly hysterical after killing Duncan, tells Lenox, "Twas a rough night".

Villanelle

A nineteen-line poem divided into five tercets and a final quatrain. The villanelle uses only two rhymes which are repeated as follows: aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, abaa.

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions above and try again

Example:

Reload the page to try again!

Reload

Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

NEW! Voice Recording

Create Set