How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

106 terms

AP English Rhetorical Devices

STUDY
PLAY
Abstract Language
describes ideas and qualities, rather than observable or specific things
Ad Hominem
attack on one's opponent, rather than the opponent's argument
Allegory
symbolic story that has a second meaning beneath the surface one
Alliteration
repetition of initial consonant sounds in words
Allusion
indirect reference to famous events or characters from history, literature, or mythology
Ambiguity
event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way; intentional vagueness
Anachronism
placement of an event, person, thing out of its proper place in time
Anaphora
repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row
Antithesis
juxtaposition of two contrasting ideas
Ethos
appeals to the audience's sense of morals or principles
Logos
appeals to the audience's sense of logic and reasoning
Pathos
appeals to the audience's emotions
Apostrophe
address to the dead as though they were living; to the inanimate as if animate; to the absent as if present
Argumentation
exploring a problem by examining all sides of it; persuasion through reason
Archetype
stereotype of literature
Assonance
repetition of similar vowel sounds
Assumption
when details are not stated but must be inferred by the reader
Asyndeton
series of words separated by commas without conjunctions
Balance
construction in which both halves of the sentence have the same length and importance
Catharsis
cleansing release of unhealthy emotions
Causal Relationship
one thing results from another
Chiasmus
arrangement of repeated thoughts in the pattern XY-YX
Cliche
expression so often used its freshness and originality have worn off
Comic Relief
humor in the serious action of a tragedy; enriches the quality of the work
Concrete Language
describes specific, observable things rather than ideas or qualities
Connotation
emotions associated with a word
Consonance
repetition of consonant sounds; not limited to the first letter of words
Conventional
following traditional techniques of writing
Cumulative
sentence that begins with the main idea and expands on that idea with a series of details
Denotation
dictionary definition of a word
Formal Diction
used in serious books and lofty discourse
Informal Diction
found in relaxed but polite and cultivated conversation
Colloquial Diction
everyday usage that may contain terms accepted in a group but not universally acceptable
Slang
newly coined words that are not yet a part of formal usage
Didactic
literature designed to teach or instruct
Digression
temporary departure from the main subject in speaking or writing
Elegy
formal poem lamenting the death of a particular person
Elliptical
deliberate omission of words implied by context
Empathy
reader understands closely what the character is feeling
Enthymeme
syllogism (logical argument) in which the major premise is unstated but meant to be understood
Epithet
adjective used to point out a characteristic of a person or thing
Euphemism
mild word used to substitute an unpleasant or offensive word
Foreshadowing
method used to build suspense by providing hints of what is to come
Figurative Language
words that are inaccurate literally, but describe by calling to mind sensations or responses that the thing described evokes
Freight Train
sentence consisting of three or more short independent clauses joined by conjunctions
Generalization
basing a claim upon an isolated example or asserting that a claim is true rather than probable
Genre
major category into which a literary work fits
Grotesque
bizarre, incongruous, ugly, unnatural, or abnormal
Hyperbole
overstatement or exaggeration of facts
Idiom
use of words or grammatical construction peculiar to a given language, or an expression that cannot be translated literally into a second language
Imagery
use of language to represent sense experience
Auditory Imagery
use of language to represent an experience pertaining to sound
Gustatory Imagery
use of language to represent an experience pertaining to taste
Kinesthetic Imagery
use of language to represent an experience pertaining to the movement of muscles, tendons, or joints
Olfactory Imagery
use of language to represent an experience pertaining to smell
Tactile Imagery
use of language to represent an experience pertaining to touch
Visual Imagery
use of language to represent an experience pertaining to sight
Inversion
word order that places a modifier or verb before the subject
Situational Irony
contrast between what is normally expected and what actually occurs
Dramatic Irony
reader or audience knows more about the events of a story than the character in the story
Verbal Irony
what is said is the opposite of what is meant
Juxtaposition
placement of two things side by side for the purposes of examination
Litote
understatement that purposefully represents something as much less significant as it is, achieving an ironic effect
Loose Sentence
main clause comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units
Metaphor
comparison without using "like" or "as"
Metonymy
designation of one thing with something closely associated with it
Mood
atmosphere or feeling created by a literary work
Motif
frequently recurring character, incident, or concept in a work of literature
Negative-Positive
sentence that begins by stating what is not true and then ending by stating what is true
Onomatopoeia
word whose sound suggests its meaning
Oxymoron
paradox that combines terms normally seen as opposites
Parallelism
similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses
Paradox
statement that appears contradictory yet expresses a truth when viewed from another angle
Parody
comic imitation of another work often for ridicule
Pedantic
scholarly, academic writing that borders on lecturing
Parenthesis
insertion of some verbal unit in a position that interrupts the normal flow of the sentence
Periodic Sentence
main clause comes last, preceded by dependent grammatical units
Polysyndeton
sentence that uses "and" or another conjunction (with no commas) to separate items in a series; X and Y and Z
Personification
attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract concepts
Pun
play on words that utilizes a word's multiple meanings
Realism
faithful representation of reality to make a story more believable
Red Herring
when an author raises an irrelevant issue to draw attention away from the real issue
Rhetoric
art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse
Rhetorical Criticism
analyses the techniques employed in a literary work to impose the author's view on the reader
Sarcasm
verbal irony that uses insincere praise to express bitter and caustic disapproval
Satire
used to arouse laughter at targets such as people or groups to expose human folly
Simile
comparison using "like" or "as"
Stream of Consciousness
writing technique that uses frequent illogical and incoherent digressions to reproduce the raw flow of consciousness
Structure
organization or arrangement of various elements in a work
Narrative Structure
chronological organization used to convey a story
Dramatic Structure
organization used in plays that consists of a series of scenes, each of which is presented in vivid detail
Discursive Structure
organization used in an argument or essay
Style
arrangement of words in a manner that expresses the author's individuality and his or her intent
Rhetorical Question
question used to emphasize a point; no answer is expected
Syllepsis
grammatical construction in which one word relates to two words in very different ways
Syllogism
format of a formal argument that consists of a major premise, minor premise, and conclusion
Symbol
character, object, or event in literature that represents something larger than itself
Synecdoche
figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole
Synesthesia
one sensory experience is described in terms of another sensory experience
Syntax
manner in which words are joined to make phrases, clauses, and sentences
Theme
main idea that the author expresses in a literary work
Thesis
claim or proposition that a writer must strive to prove effectively and thoroughly
Tone
attitude of the speaker of a work of literature expresses to the reader through language
Voice
total "sound" or "feel" of a writer's style that is present behind characters, narrators, and personae of literature
Wit
intellectual humor that suggests the speaker's verbal power in creating ingenious and perceptive remarks
Zeugma
writer uses one word to govern several successive words or clauses