25 Common Literary Terms Used In Poetry

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A complete list of literary terms used in poetry. For use in Granby Jr. / Sr. High School with Mrs. Blackburn only.


The repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words.


A brief reference to a person, event, or place, real or ficticious, or to a work of art. An allusion may be drawn from history, geography, literature, or religion.


A.nas.tro.phe n. Inversion of the normal syntactic order of words, for example: To market went she.[Gk. anastrophe.


The repetition of vowel sounds but not consonant sounds as in consonance.


An implied meaning of a word. Opposite of denotation.


The repetition of consonant sounds, but not vowels, as in assonance.


The literal meaning of a word, the dictionary meaning. Opposite of connotation.


Exaggeration or overstatement.
Opposite of Understatement


Language that evokes one or all of the five senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching.

Internal Rhyme

Rhyming within a line.


the comparison of two UNLIKE things. Simile, personification, anthropomorphism, hyperbole, parable, fable, animism, and analogy are metaphors.


The rhyme established by a poem, and it is usually idependent not only on the number of syllables in a line, but also on the way those syllables are accented.


The emotional attitude the author takes towards hir subject. Similar to Tone.


A word that imitates the sound it represents.


Putting two contradictory words together.


Giving human qualities to animals or objects.


The usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound.

Rhyme Scheme

Rhymed words at the ends of lines.


The dictionary tells us it is "a movement with uniform recurrence of a beat or accent." In its crudest form rhythm has a beat with little or no meaning. Children use them in games and counting-out rhymes. In poetry, rhythm, broadly speaking, is a recognizable pulse, or "recurrence," which gives a distinct beat to a line and also gives it a shape.


The comparison of two unlike things using like or as. Related to metaphor


A unified group of lines in poetry.


When one uses a part to represent the whole.


The attitude a writer takes towards a subject or character: serious, humorous, sarcastic, ironic, satirical, tongue-in-cheek, solemn, objective. Similar to Mood


This device is used to understate the obvious. On a day of extreme weather, like it is really really hot, one might say, "Is it warm enough for you?" or on a very very cold day one might say, "Balmy out isn't it?"


A line of poetry.

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