AP English Lit terms

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Allegory

a prose or poetic narrative in which the characters, behavior, and even the setting demonstrates multiple levels of meaning and significance. Often a universal symbol or personified abstraction

Anapestic

metrical foot: unstressed, unstressed, stressed

Anaphora

the regular repitition of the same work or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases or clauses

Antithesis

the juxtaposition of sharply contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words, phrases, grammatical structure, or ideas. "To err is human, to forgive divine"

Apostrophe

an address or invocation to something that is inanimate

Assonance

a repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually those found in stressed syllables of close proximity. e.g. "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan..."

Asyndeton

a style in which conjunctions are omitted, usually producing a fast-paced, more rapid prose. eg. "I came, I saw, I conquered"

Ballad

a narrative poem that is/was originally meant to be sung. Repetition and refrain (recurring phrase or phrases) is commonly used

Blank verse

the verse form that most resembles common speech. Consists of unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter

Caesura

a pause in a line of verse, indicated by natural speech patterns rather than specific metrical patterns

Chiasmus

a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. eg. "Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure" --Byron

Colloquial

ordinary language, the vernacular

Conceit

a comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out. Also known as an extended metaphor

Connotation

the implied meaning of a word; what is suggested by a word, apart from what it explicitly describes.

Consonance

the repetition of a sequence of two or more consonants, but with a change in the intervening vowels

Couplet

two lines of iambic pentameter. Also known as heroic_________

Dactylic

a metrical foot: stressed, stressed, unstressed

Denotation

dictionary meaning of a word; direct and specific meaning

Dialect

the language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific area, region, or group of people

Diction

the specific word choice used to persuade or convey tone, purpose, or effect

Soliloquy

also known as dramatic monologue; a monologue set in a specific situation and spoken to an imaginary audience

Elegy

a poetic lament upon the death of a partucular person, usually ending in consolation

Enjambment

the continuation of a sentence from one line or couplet of a poem to the next

Exposition

the part of the structure that sets the scene, introduces and identifies characters, and establishes the situation at the beginning of a story or play

Denouement

falling action; the part of plot structure in which the complications of the rising action are untangled

Farce

a scene in a play or book that is characterized by broad humor, wild antics, and often slapstick and physical humor

Formal diction

diction that is lofty, dignified, and impersonal. Often used in narrative epic poetry

Free verse

poetry that is characterized by varying line lengths, lack of traditional meter, and nonrhyming lines

Hyperbole

overstatement characterized by exaggerated language

Iambic

metrical foot: unstressed, stressed

Imagery

any sensory detail or evocation in a work; involves any or all of the five senses

In medias res

"in the midst of things"; the technique of opening a story in the middle of the action and filling in past details by exposition or flashback

Irony

a situation or statement characterized by significant difference between what is expected/said and what happens/is meant. Often humorous and sarcastic

Jargon

specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group

Litote

a figure of speech that emphasizes its subjet by conscious understatement. e.g. "not bad" for something very well done

Loose sentence

a sentence gramatically complete that usually states its main idea before the end. e.g. "the child ran as if being chased by demons"

Lyric poem

any short poem in which the speaker expresses intense personal emotion (such as a sonnet or ode) rather than describing a narrative or dramatic situation

Meter

the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry

Metonymy

a figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name or designate something. e.g "The White House"

Mood

a feeling or ambiance resulting from the tone of a piece as well as the writer/narrator's attitude and point of view. Usually established through descriptions of feelings

Motif

a recurrent device, formula, or situation. e.g. the color green in "The Great Gatsby"

Narrative structure

structure based on sequences of connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework

Ode

a long, stately poem in stanzas of varied length, meter, and form. Typically serious poems on an exalted subject.

Oxymoron

a figure of speech that combines two contradictory elements. e.g. jumbo shrimp, deafening silence

Parable

a short fiction that illustrates an explicit moral lesson through the use of analogy

Paradox

a statement that seems contradictory but may actually be true. e.g. "fight for peace"

Parallel structure

structure in which similar forms of nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts. Maintains balance. e.g. "Lilly likes reading, writing, and skiing" instead of "Lilly likes to read, write, and go skiing"

Parody

a work that imitates another work for comic effect by exaggerating the style and changing the content of the original. e.g. Weird Al Yankovic's music

Pastoral

a work that describes the simple life of country folk. Also known as ecologue, bucolic, or idyll

Periodic sentence

a sentence which is not grammatically complete until the end. e.g. "The child, who looked as if she were being chased by demons, ran"

Quatrain

a poetic stanza of four lines

Realism

the form of literature that describes nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail

Refrain

a repeated stanza or line(s)

Stock character

a character that appears in a number of stories or plays. e.g. cruel stepmother, hot-headed son, femme fatale

Synecdoche

when a part is used to signify a whole

Syntax

the way words are put together; sentence structure and how it influences the way a reader reacts to the writing

Trochaic

metrical foot: stressed, unstressed (the opposite of iambic)

Villanelle

highly structured poem consisting of six stanzas: five tercets and a quatrain; first and third line are repeated throughout. e.g. Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

Foil

a character whose qualities or actions emphasize those of another character through contrast

Pathos

the quality that creates sympathy, feelings of tenderness, pity, or sorrow

Synesthesia

imagery that stimulates 2 or more senses simultaneously

Baroque

particularly ornate or euphuistic style

Analepsis

flashback

Pathetic fallacy

The attribution of human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or to nature; for example angry clouds; a cruel wind.

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