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Vocabulary terms that are used in AP Literature and Language

Active Voice

Any sentence with an active verb

Ad Hominem

An attack on the person rather than the issues at hand


A reference that recalls another work, another time of history, or another famous person


A deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive poetic lines, prose sentence,clauses, or paragraphs.

Antithesis [an-tith-esis]

An observation or claim that is in opposition to your claim or an author's claim.


Any prayer-like sentence that is directly addressed to someone who is not present; to a deity or muse or other power


A noun phrase that modifies the noun next to it


The argument "everyone is doing it" fallacy; especially appreciated by politicians trying to get voters

Begging the Question

The argument that occurs when the speaker states a claim that includes a word or phrase that needs to be defined before the argument can proceed

Complex sentence

Sentence structure that is a combination of a dependent clause and an independent clause; (combination of a sentence that cannot stand alone but is supported by another sentence that can)


A regional speech pattern; the way people talk; also referred to as "colloquial language"


The use of a safer and nicer word for something others find inappropriate or unappealing


failure of logical reasoning; appear to make an argument reasonable but falsely so


Verb ending in "ing" that serves as a noun


making one idea more dramatic by placing it next to its opposite


Word play in which one word is mistakenly substituted for another that sounds similar

Poisoning the Well

A person or character is introduced with language that suggests that he is not reliable before the reader knows anything about him


A claim or a statement of the truth, that makes sense to at least to the person making the the argument

Red Herring

The argument that distracts the reader by raising issues irrelevant to the case. It is like being given too many suspects in a murder mystery

Rhetorical Question

Answer is assumed designed to force the reader to respond in a predetermined manner

Slippery Slope Fallacy/Domino Theory

One thing leads to another

Straw Man Fallacy

Occurs when engaging in an argument that defines the opponents position when they are not present to defend themselves and its an easy attack


A technique of repetition which creates a string of related phrases

Argument from Ignorance

An argument stating that something is true because it has never been proven false


ABBA structure of a sentence/phrase


The associations or moods that accompany a word


The credibility expertise on an issue


The study of the origin of words and their historical uses

False Dilemma

A suggestion that the problem or debate only has two solutions


A pattern of speech and vocabulary associated with a particular group of people

Non Sequitor

Latin for "does not follow" and is an argument by misdirection or any argument that does not follow any Logical order


Figure of speech in which the sound of the word imitates the thing or action associated with it


Giving human attributes to non-human things


Intentional over-use of coordinating conjunctions


A play on words

Rhetorical Shift

occurs when the author of an essay significantly alters his or her direction or style so much that it feels a different writer has taken over


Part of something is symbolically used for the whole


Basic message or meaning of a work (could be argued in an essay)


Two or more elements in a sentence are tied together by the same verb or noun


name of one thing is substituted for another with which it is closely affiliated

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