SFHS Literary Devices and Terms

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Abstract

Refers to language that describes concepts rather than concrete images (ideas and qualities rather than observable or specific things, people, or places). The observable or "physical" is usually described in concrete language. "love, faith, friendship"

Alliteration

The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words (as in "she sells seashells").

Allusion

A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art. Allusions can be historical, (like referring to Hitler), literary (like referring to Kurtz in Heart of Darkness), religious (like referring to Noah and the flood), or mythical (like referring to Atlas). There are, of course, many more possibilities, and a work may simultaneously use multiple layers of allusion.

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. Example:
"So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado...." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anecdote

A short, simple narrative of an incident; often used for humorous effect or to make a point.

Annotation

Explanatory notes added to a text to explain, cite sources, or give bibliographical data.

Aphorism

A short, often witty statement of a principle or a truth about life. Examples:
"Early bird gets the worm."
"What goes around, comes around.."
"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

Apostrophe

A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. The effect may add familiarity or emotional intensity.
"For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him." Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

Assonance

Repetition of vowel sounds between different consonants, such as in neigh/fade,

10. 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. Even such elements such as a description of the weather can contribute to the atmosphere. Frequently, atmosphere foreshadows events (see "mood").

Auditor

the person or persons spoken to in the poem.

Cacophony

Harsh, awkward, or dissonant sounds used deliberately in poetry or prose; the opposite of euphony.

Colloquialism

A word or phrase (including slang) used in everyday conversation and informal writing but that is often inappropriate in formal writing (y'all, ain't)

Concrete Language

Describes specific, observable things, people, or places, rather than ideas or qualities.

Consonance

Repetition of identical consonant sounds within two or more words in close proximity, as in boost/best; it can also be seen within several compound words, such as fulfill and ping-pong

Description

The picturing in words of something or someone through detailed observation of color, motion, sound, taste, smell, and touch; one of the four modes of discourse

Diction

Related to style, diction refers to the writer's word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness. For the AP exam, you should be able to describe an author's diction (for example, formal or informal, ornate or plain) and understand the ways in which diction can complement the author's purpose. Diction, combined with syntax, figurative language, literary devices, etc., creates an author's style (see "syntax").

Discourse

Spoken or written language, including literary works; the four traditionally classified modes of discourse are description, exposition, narration, and persuasion.

Dissonance

Harsh or grating sounds that do not go together.

Ethos

Speakers and writers appeal to ethos, or character, to demonstrate that they are credible and trustworthy and often emphasize shared values. In some instances a speaker's reputation, or the reputation of the publication where the piece is published, immediately establishes ethos.

Euphemism

A more acceptable and usually more pleasant way of saying something that might be inappropriate or uncomfortable. "He went to his final reward" is a common saying for "he died." These are also often used to obscure the reality of a situation. The military uses "collateral damage" to indicate civilian deaths in a military operation.

Euphony

A succession of harmonious sounds used in poetry or prose; the opposite of cacophony

Extended Metaphor

A metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work

Figurative Language

Language that contains figures of speech, such as similes and metaphors, in order to create associations that are imaginative rather than literal.

Figures of Speech

Devices used to produce figurative language. Many compare dissimilar things. Figures of speech include: apostrophe, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, metonymy, oxymoron, paradox, personification, simile, synecdoche, and understatement.

Foreshadowing

The use of a hint or clue to suggest a larger event that occurs late in the work.

Genre

The major category into which a literary work fits; there are also subgenres, such as science fiction or sonnet, within the larger genres

Homily

This term literally means "sermon," but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice.

Hubris

The excessive pride of ambition that leads a tragic hero to disregard warnings of impending doom, eventually causing his or her downfall.

Humor

Anything that causes laughter or amusement; up until the end of the Renaissance, humor meant a person's temperament

Hyperbole

A figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. Hyperboles often have a comic effect ("He was so hungry he could have eaten a horse"); however, a serious effect is also possible. Often, hyperbole produces irony at the same time.

Image

A word or words, either figurative or literal, used to describe a sensory experience or an object perceived by the sense. An image is always a concrete representation.

Imagery

The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion or represent abstractions. On a physical level, imagery uses terms related to the five senses: we refer to visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, or olfactory imagery. On a broader and deeper level, however, one image can represent more than one thing. For example, a rose may present visual imagery while also representing the color in a woman's cheeks. An author, therefore, may use complex imagery while simultaneously employing other figures of speech, especially metaphor and simile. In addition, this term can apply to the total of all the images in a work on the AP exam; pay attention to how an author creates imagery and also to the effect of that imagery.

Inference

To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented when a multiple-choice question asks for an inference to be drawn from a passage, the most direct, most reasonable inference is the safest answer choice. If an inference is implausible, it is unlikely to be the correct answer. Note that if the answer choice is directly stated, it is not inferred and is wrong.

Interior Monologue

Writing that records the conversation that occurs inside a character's head

Irony

It is contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant. It is the difference between what appears to be and what actually is true. In general, there are three major types of irony used in language: (1) In verbal irony, the words literally state the opposite of the writer's (or speaker's) true meaning. (2) In situational irony, events turn out the opposite of what was expected. What the characters and readers think ought to happen is not what does happen. (3) In dramatic irony, facts or events are unknown to a character in a play or piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or other characters in the work. irony is used for many reasons, but frequently, it's used to create poignancy or humor.

Jargon

The special language of a profession or group. The term usually has pejorative associations, with the implication that jargon is evasive, tedious, and unintelligible to outsiders. The writings of the lawyer and the literary critic are both susceptible to jargon.

Logos

Writers and speakers appeal to logos, or reason, by offering clear, rational ideas. This includes a clear thesis, specific details, examples, facts, statistical data, and/or expert testimony. Of course, the argument must be logical..

Lyrical (Lyric)

Songlike; characterized by emotions, subjectivity, and imagination.

40. Metaphor

A figure of speech using implied comparison of seemingly unlike things or the substitution of one for the other, suggesting some similarity. Metaphorical language makes writing more vivid, imaginative, thought provoking, and meaningful (see "simile").

Mood

Similar to tone, it is the primary emotional attitude of a work

Moral

The lesson drawn from a fictional or nonfiction story.

Narrative

The telling of a story in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or drama; one of the four modes of discourse.

Onomatopoeia

The use of words that sound like what they mean, such as "hiss," "buzz," "slam," and "boom."

Oxymoron

A figure of speech composed of contradictory words or phrases, such as "wise fool," bitter-sweet," "pretty ugly," "jumbo shrimp," icy hot."

Parable

A short tale that teaches a moral; similar to, but shorter than, an allegory.

Paradox

A statement that seems to contradict itself but that turns out to have a rational meaning, as in this quotation from Henry David Thoreau; "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." The first scene of Macbeth, for example, closes with the witches' cryptic remark "Fair is foul, and foul is fair..."

Pathos

Writers and speakers appeal to pathos with the intent of evoking pity or compassion. Over-emotionalism can be the result of an excess of pathos and writing that relies exclusively on emotional appeals is rarely effective in the long term.

Pedantic

A term used to describe writing that borders on lecturing. It is scholarly and academic and often overly difficult and distant.

Persona

(plural: personae)- designates the speaker of a poem. The word means "mask" in ancient Greece.

Personification

The attribution of human qualities to a nonhuman or an inanimate object.

Point of View(first person)

a narrator, referred to as "I," who is a character in the story and relates the actions through his or her own perspective, also revealing his or her own thoughts

Point of View(Omniscient)

third person narrator, referred to as "he," "she," or "they," who is able to see into each character's mind and understands all the action

Point of View(Limited Omniscient)

a third person narrator who reports the thoughts of only one character and generally only what that one character sees

Point of View(Objective )

a third person narrator who only reports what would be visible to a camera; thoughts and feelings are only revealed if a character speaks of them

Prose

One of the major divisions of genre, prose refers to fiction and nonfiction, including all its forms, because they are written in ordinary language and most closely resemble everyday speech. Technically, anything that is not poetry or drama is prose. Therefore, all passages in the AP language exam are prose. Of course, prose writers often borrow poetic and dramatic elements.

Repetition

The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as a sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern. When repetition is poorly done, it bores, but when it is well done, it links and emphasizes ideas while allowing the reader the comfort of recognizing something familiar.

Rhyme

most important sound device in poetry; The repeating of end sounds of words

Masculine rhyme-

- occurs between single stressed syllables of rhyme
i. fleece, release, surcease, niece

Feminine rhyme (Double rhyme)

)- matches two syllables
i. stinging, upbringing, flinging

Triple rhyme

matches 3 syllables
i. slithering, withering

Slant rhyme

contains hints of sound repetition
i. chill, dull, sale

End Rhymes

rhyme occurs at the end of the line

Rhyme Scheme

- assigning letter to the sounds
ii. Example: A stanza of four lines ending with heaven, bell, hell, eleven, would have a rhyme scheme of "abba."

Setting

Time and place of a literary work

Simile

A figure of speech that uses like, as, or as if to make a direct comparison between two essentially different objects, actions, or qualities; for example, "The sky looked like an artist's canvas."

Speaker

The voice of a work; an author may speak as himself or herself or as a fictitious persona.

Stereotype

A character who represents a trait that is usually attributed to a particular social or racial group and who lacks individuality; a conventional patter, expression or idea.

Symbolism

The use of symbols or anything that is meant to be taken both literally and as representative of a higher and more complex significance

Syncope

A contraction—a dropping of a letter which is done to help maintain the poem's meter ("falt'ring," "o'er," and "ne'er" etc.)

Theme

The theme is the central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life. Usually, theme is unstated in fictional works, but in nonfiction, the theme may be directly stated, especially in expository or argumentative writing.

Thesis

In expository writing, the thesis statement is the sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author's opinion, purpose, meaning, or proposition. Expository writing is usually judged by analyzing how accurately, effectively, and thoroughly a writer has proven the thesis.

Tone

Similar to mood, tone describes the author's attitude toward his or her material, the audience, or both. Tone is easier o determine in spoken language than in written language. Considering how a work would sound if it were read aloud can help in identifying an author's tone. Some words describing tone are playful, serious, businesslike, sarcastic, humorous, formal, ornate, and somber.

Understatement

The ironic minimizing of fact, understatement presents something as less significant than it is. The effect can frequently be humorous and emphatic. Understatement is the opposite of hyperbole.

Lyric Poetry

originally comprised of brief poems that were meant to be chanted to the accompaniment of a lyre.

Narrative Poetry

- poetry whose main function is to tell a story. They contain plots, characters, setting, and point-of-view, and may be discussed in the same terms as a short story.

Dramatic poetry

composed to be chanted at religious rituals by a chorus—forerunner of tragedy.

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