← AP Composition Terms Export Options Alphabetize Word-Def Delimiter Tab Comma Custom Def-Word Delimiter New Line Semicolon Custom Data Copy and paste the text below. It is read-only. Select All Anaphora Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer's point more coherent. Anecdote A brief recounting of a relevant episode. These are often inserted into fictional or non-fictional texts as a way of developing a point or injecting humor. Annotation Explanatory notes added to a text to explain, cite sources, or give bibliographical data. Antecedent The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun. ("Steve was the first person there, and he was getting impatient waiting for the others." In this case, "Steve" is the antecedent of "he".) Aphorism A terse statement which expresses a general truth or moral principle. It's often equated as a synonym with "adage" or "saying" or "proverb". Concrete Language Language that describes specific, observable things, people or places. Connotation Rather than the dictionary definition, this refers to the associations suggested by a word: implied meaning rather than literal meaning. Consonance Repetition of a consonant sound within two or more words in close proximity. Keep in mind that consonance refers to repetition AFTER the beginning of the word (that type of repetition is referred to as "alliteration"). Denotation This is the explicit meaning of a word; it refers to the dictionary definition. Diction Word choice, particularly as an element of style. Different types and arrangements of words have significant effects on meaning. Didactic A term used to describe writing that teaches a specific lesson or moral. Ellipsis The deliberate omission of a word from prose done for effect by the author. Emotional Appeal When a writer appeals to an audience's emotions to excite and involve them in the argument. Epigraph A quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of theme. Euphemism A more agreeable or less offensive substitute for generally unpleasant words or concepts (such as "physically challenged" instead of "crippled"). False Analogy When two cases are not sufficiently parallel to lead readers to accept a claim of connection between them. Figurative Language A word or words that are inaccurate literally but call to mind sensations or evoke reactions: "All the world's a stage..." Metaphors and similes are examples of figurative language. Genre The major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry, and drama. However, these can be subdivided as well (poetry can be classified into lyric, dramatic, narrative, etc.) Homily This term literally means "sermon", but more informally it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice. Hyperbole Figurative language that exaggerates. It is often used in comedy or to create irony. (Example: "We saw a gas station every five feet when the tank was full, but when we finally needed gas, there wasn't a station for a thousand miles.") Induction The process of reasoning from premises. It involves bringing together pieces of evidence and arriving at a conclusion. (Example: "I want to buy new shoes. I've had five pairs of Nikes and never had any foot problems. Reeboks gave me blisters, and Adidas made my ankles hurt. Therefore, I probably should buy Nikes.") Imperative sentence Issues a command (Example: Kick the ball now!) Interrogative sentence Sentences incorporating questioning pronouns (what , which, who, etc). It's a question. Invective An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language. Irony When the opposite of what you expect to happen does. Verbal irony When you say something and mean the opposite/something different. For example, if your gym teacher wants you to run a mile in eight minutes or faster, but calls it a "walk in the park", it would be verbal irony. Dramatic irony When the audience of a drama, play, movie, etc. knows something the character doesn't and would be surprised to find out. Situational irony Events turn out the opposite of what would reasonably be expected. Juxtaposition Placing things side by side for the purposes of comparison to emphasize a point. (For example, an author may compare the average day of a typical American with that of someone in the third world to make a point of social commentary). Metaphor A figure of speech using an implied comparison of seemingly unlike things, or the substitution of one for another, suggesting some similarity. It is usually identified by comparing objects directly, using words like "was" or "is"(example: She was a cold-hearted snake.) Mood The atmosphere created by the literature and accomplished largely through word choice (diction). Syntax is often a contributor to this since word order and sentence length also affect pacing (thereby affecting mood). Non-sequitur Statement that does not logically follow another. Objectivity An author's stance that distances himself from personal involvement. Onomatopoeia A figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of the words: "murmur", "gurgle", "roar", "buzz". If you identify this in a passage, make sure to explain WHY the author chose to use it ... explain how it impacts the passage. Oversimplification When the writer denies the complexity of an idea. Oxymoron A rhetorical antithesis -- "wise fool";"eloquent silence";"jumbo shrimp". Apparently contradictory terms are grouped together and suggest a paradox. Paradox A seemingly contradictory statement which is actually true; an idea which embeds a contradiction. (Example: "You can't get a job without experience, and you can't get experience without getting a job"). Parallelism Also known as parallel construction. This is sentence construction which places equal grammatical constructions near each other or repeats patterns two or more times. Parenthetical Idea Parentheses are used to set off an idea from the rest of the sentence. It is almost considered an aside, and should be used sparingly for effect. Parody An exaggerated imitation of a serious work for humorous purposes. It borrows words or phrases from an original and pokes fun at it. This is also a form of allusion since it is referencing a previous text, event, or person. Passive Voice The subject of the sentence receives the action. This is often overused, making writing seem lifeless and awkward. Pedantic Observing strict adherence to formal rules or literal meaning. This can also refer to the author's tone as overly scholarly and academic. Periodic Sentence A sentence in which the main clause (or the main idea) comes last. Persona The fictional mask or narrator that tells a story. Personification A type of figurative language which attributes human qualities to non-human subjects. Refutation When the writer presents relevant opposing arguments. Repetition Reinforcing a point by repeating the point, a word, or series of words which are fundamental to the author's purpose. Rhetoric The art of effective communication, including the techniques and strategies used to communicate more effectively and forcefully. Sarcasm A generally bitter comment that is ironically worded. Satire A work that reveals a critical attitude toward some element of life to a humorous effect. It targets human vices and follies, or social institutions and conventions. It usually uses wit, irony, parody, caricature, hyperbole, or sarcasm. Good examples of this are not only funny but also thought provoking. Style The choices in diction, tone, and syntax that a writer makes. It may be conscious or unconscious. Subordinate Clause A word group that contains both a subject and a verb, but unlike the independent clause, this cannot stand alone; it does not express a complete thought. Easily recognized key words and phrases usually begin these clauses (although, because, unless, if, even though, since, as, while, who, when, where how, and that.) Syllogism A deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises - the first one "major" the second one "minor" - that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion. Example: Major Premise: All men are mortal. Minor Premise: Socrates is a man. Conclusion: Therefore, Socrates is mortal. Symbol Anything that represents or stands for something else. Usually it is something concrete. Syntax Grammatical arrangement of words. This is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to master. First, a reader should examine the length of sentences. How does sentence length and structure relate to tone and meaning? Are they simple or complex sentences? How do they relate to one another? Theme The central idea or message of a work. It is rarely stated directly in fiction. Thesis The sentence that directly expresses the author's opinion, purpose, meaning, or proposition. It should be clear and specific. Tone A writer's attitude toward his subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language and organization. To identify this, consider how the piece would sound if read aloud. Examples are playful, serious, businesslike, sarcastic, humorous, formal, or somber. Topic Sentence It tells the reader what the following paragraph will be about. Transition Smooth movement from one paragraph (or idea) to another. Words and ideas are used to connect two distinct and separate ideas and/or paragraphs. A few commonly used transitional words or phrases are "furthermore"; "consequently"; "nevertheless"; "for example"; "in addition"; "likewise"; "similarly"; "on the contrary". Understatement The ironic minimizing of fact, this presents something as less significant than it is. The effect can frequently be humorous. Vernacular 1. Language or dialect of a particular country 2. Plain, everyday speech. Antithesis Two opposite or contrasting words, phrases, clauses, or even ideas. (Example: "Bill's work in school was the antithesis of his sister's. Her homework was tidy and on time, while Bill's was sloppy and late." ) Apostrophe A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. It is an address to someone or something that cannot answer. Atmosphere The emotional mood created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author's choice of objects that are described. Caricature A verbal description, the purpose of which is to exaggerate or distort, for comic effect, a person's distinctive physical features or other characteristics. Clause A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb. An independent (or main) clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. A dependent, or subordinate clause, cannot stand alone as a sentence and must be accompanied by an independent clause. Colloquial/colloquialism The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing. Not generally acceptable for formal writing, these give a work a conversational, familiar tone. Examples in writing include local or regional dialects. Conceit A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects. Inference/infer To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented. When a multiple-choice question asks for this to be drawn from the passage, the most direct, most reasonable inference is the safest answer choice. Loose Sentence A complex sentence in which the main clause comes first and the subordinate clause follows. Example: I do not wish to go to school, even though I might learn something interesting. Persuasive writing A type of argumentation having the additional aim of urging some form of action. Rhetorical Question A question not asked for information but for effect; it does not require a spoken answer. Simile A comparison using "like" or "as". Descriptive Detail When an essay question uses this phrase, look for the writer's sensory description. Examples appealing to the visual sense are usually the most dominant, but don't overlook other sensory detail. As usual, analyze its effect as well as pointing out its existence. Devices The figures of speech, syntax, diction, and other stylistic elements that collectively produce a particular artistic effect. Language When you're asked to "analyze the language", concentrate on how the elements of language combine to form a whole - how diction, syntax, figurative language, and sentence structure create a cumulative effect. Narrative Devices This term describes the tools of the storyteller, such as ordering events so they build to a climactic moment, or withholding information until a crucial moment when revealing it creates a desired effect. Narrative Technique Related to narrative devices, this refers to the style of telling the story, even if the passage is nonfiction. Concentrate on the order of events and on their detail in evaluating a writer's technique. Persuasive Devices When asked to analyze these, look for the words in the passage that have strong connotations - words that intensify the emotional effect. In addition, analyze HOW these words complement the writer's argument as it builds logically. Persuasive Essay When asked to write this, you should present a coherent argument in which the evidence builds to a logical and relevant conclusion. Sentence Structure When an essay question asks you to analyze this, look at the type of sentences the author uses. Consider variation or lack of it in sentence length; any unusual devices in sentence construction, such as repetition or inverted word order; and any unusual word or phrase placement. As with all devices, be prepared to discuss the effect.