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Literary Devices Appearing on the Florida Teacher Certification Exam for English grades 6-12


use of the same consonant at the beginning of each stressed syllable in a line of verse


the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas to give a feeling of balance


a short pithy instructive saying


address to an absent or imaginary person


insincere or overly sentimental quality of writing/speech intended to evoke pity

Blank Verse

unrhymed verse (usually in iambic pentameter)


a break or pause (usually for sense) in the middle of a verse line


arrangement of clauses in ascending order of forcefulness


a fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects


the implied or associative meaning of a word


the repetition of consonants (or consonant patterns) especially at the ends of words


Two consecutive lines of poetry that rhyme


the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression


a moment of sudden revelation or insight


a mild, indirect, or vague term substituting for a harsh, blunt, or offensive term


an account that sets forth the meaning or intent of a writing or discourse

Free Verse

unrhymed verse without a consistent metrical pattern

Iambic Pentameter

a common meter in poetry consisting of an unrhymed line with five feet or accents, each foot containing an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable


The use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person, thing, place, or experience


the reversal of the normal order of words


incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs


A device employed in Anglo-Saxon poetry in which the name of a thing is replaced by one of its functions or qualities, as in "ring-giver" for king and "whale-road" for ocean.


the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one that sounds similar


a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity

Metaphysical Poetry

The work of poets, particularly those of the seventeenth century, that uses elaborate conceits, is highly intellectual, and expresses the complexities of love and life


substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in 'they counted heads')


a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work

Octava Rima

eight iambic lines, usually iambic pentameters. Each stanza consists of three alternate rhymes and one double rhyme, following the a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c pattern.


using words that imitate the sound they denote


conjoining contradictory terms (as in 'deafening silence')


a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.


phrases or sentences of a similar construction/meaning placed side by side, balancing each other


the act of attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas etc.


a stanza of four lines


analysis of verse into metrical patterns

Slant Rhyme

rhyme in which the vowel sounds are nearly, but not exactly the same (i.e. the words "stress" and "kiss"); sometimes called half-rhyme, near rhyme, or partial rhyme


a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with 'like' or 'as')


a (usually long) dramatic speech intended to give the illusion of unspoken reflections

Spenserian Stanza

a stanza with eight lines of iambic pentameter and a concluding Alexandrine with the rhyme pattern abab bcbc c

Sprung Rhythm

rhythm consisting of variable meter, which combines stressed and unstressed syllables fashioned by the author.

Stream of Consciousness

the continuous flow of ideas and feelings that constitute an individual's conscious experience


the practice of investing things with symbolic meaning


substituting a more inclusive term for a less inclusive one or vice versa

Terza Rima

a verse form with a rhyme scheme: aba bcb cdc, etc.


the quality of something (an act or a piece of writing) that reveals the attitudes and presuppositions of the author


intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights

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