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a list of common ap literary terms for students

Alliteration

the repetition of initial identical consonant sounds or iny vowel sound in successive or closely associated syllables. Ex: fair breeze blew, the white foam flew...

allusion

a reference to another work of literature, person, or event

ambiguity

unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning

assonance

the repetition of similar vowels in the stressed syllables of successive words

ballad

a type of poem that is meant to be sung and is both lyric and narrative in nature

blank verse

unrhymed verse (usually in iambic pentameter)

connotation

suggested or implied meaning of an expression

couplet

a stanza consisting of two successive lines of verse

diction

A writer's or speaker's choice of words

end rhyme

Rhyme that occurs at the end of two or more lines of poetry

enjambment

the continuation of meaning, without pause or break, from one line of poetry to the next

epic

a long narrative poem telling of a hero & deeds

figurative language

Writing or speech that is used to create vivid impressions by setting up comparisons between dissimilar things, [examples are metaphor, simile, and personification.

free verse

Poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme

hyperbole

a figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, make a point, or evoke humor

iamb

a metrical unit with unstressed-stressed syllables

image

A concrete representation of a sense impression, a feeling, or an idea.

internal rhyme

rhyme between words that occurs within a single line of poetry

irony

incongruity or discrepancy between the implied and expected; verbal, dramatic, situational

metaphor

a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles

mood

the overall emotion created by a work of literature

motif

a theme or idea in a work of art or literature that is developed or repeated

onomatopoeia

using words that imitate the sound they denote

oxymoron

n. a figure of speech combining apparently contradictory terms, e.g., visible darkness

pentameter

a verse line having five metrical feet

personification

the act of attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas etc.

prologue

a speech, passage, or event coming before the main speech or event

pun

a humorous play on words

quatrain

a stanza of four lines

stanza

a fixed number of lines of verse forming a unit of a poem

rhyme

be similar in sound, especially with respect to the last syllable

scansion

The process of marking lines of poetry to show the type of feet and the number of feet they contain

sonnet

a verse form consisting of 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme

symbol

Anything that stands for or represents something else.

tone

the quality of something (an act or a piece of writing) that reveals the attitudes and presuppositions of the author

theme

the statement expressed or implied that a text seems to be making about its subject

syntax

Organizational rules specifying word order, sentence organization, and word relationships.

simile

A direct comparison made between two unlike things, using a word of comparison such as like, as, than, such as, or resembles.

rhyme scheme

A pattern of end rhymes in a poem; noted by assigning a letter of the alphabet, beginning with a, to each line; lines that rhyme are given the same letter.

point of view

angle from which a story is told (first person, third person, etc.)

paradox

A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

refrain

A regularly repeated line or group of lines in a poem or song

meter

A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry

limerick

A fine line humerous poem rhyming aabba

haiku

A Japanese poem with 3 lines, 5-7-5 syllables, freq. about nature

end stopped line

A line that ends with a natural speech pause, usually marked by punctuation.

denotation

Dictionary definition of a word

cliche

An expression that has been overused to the extent that its freshness has worn off

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