Important Literary Terms

31 terms by catcherinthe 

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Allegory

A representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another

Alliteration

The commencement of two or more stressed syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound or sound group or the same letter.

Allusion

A passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication (historical or literary)

Ambiguity

An unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc.

Anti-hero

A protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, such a s nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.

Archetype

A collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern or thought, image, etc. universally present in individual psyches. The prototype or stereotype.

Conceit

An elaborate, fanciful metaphor, esp. of a strained or far-fetched nature. Extended metaphor that governs a whole poem.

Connotation

The associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning; the suggested or implied meaning; the intention.

Denotation

The explicit or direct meaning or a word or expression.

Diction

style or speaking or writing as dependent upon choice or words

Syntax

the formation of grammatical sentences

Irony

The use of words, character, or plot development to convey a meaning that is opposite of its literal meaning

Elegy

a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, esp. a funderal song or a lament for the dead

Foil

A person or thing that makes another seem better by contrast

Genre

A catagory of artistic endeavor having a praticular form, content, technique, or the like; a distinctive literary type

Hamartia

tragic flaw, usually accidental, a moral mistake or an ignorant error

Hubris

excessive pride or self-confidence leading to downfall

Hyperbole

obvious and intentional exaggeration; extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally

Litotes

understatement, esp. in which the affirmative is expresed by the negative of its contrary

Imagery

The formation of mental images, figures, or likenesses of things; figurative description or illustration

Mood

A prevailing emotional tone or general attitude, the reader's attitude toward the text; atmosphere, state of mind

Tone

The author's attitude toward the text; style or manner of expression in speech or writing

Onomatopoeia

A word that imitates the sound made by or associated with its referent

Oxymoron

A figurative speech by which a locution producers in inongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect

Prose

The ordinary form of spoken or written language, without metrical structure, as distinguished from poetry or verse

satire

A literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule

Shift

the change from one tone, attitude, rheterical area to another

Figurative Language

speech or writing that departs from literal meaning in order to achieve a special effect or meaning

simile

a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, usually using like, as, than, etc.

Metaphor

a figure of speech in which a term or phase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a rsemblance

Persona

The narrator of a literary work, a voice or character representing the speaker in a literary work

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