Like this study set? Create a free account to save it.

Sign up for an account

Already have a Quizlet account? .

Create an account

Literary Terms for the AP English Literature Exam.


the stressed portion of a word


a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one


the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.


an expression designed to bring something to mind without mentioning it plainly


a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists; something that is old-fashioned


a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification


a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person


a witty observation that contains a general truth about life, such as, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."


an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person or thing


a remark or passage by a character in a play that is intended to be heard by the audience but unheard by the other characters in the play.


in poetry, the repetition of the sound of a vowel in non-rhyming stressed syllables near enough to each other for an echo effect


a long narrative poem or song narrating a single story, which is often tragic or violent, in short stanzas.


a break between words within a metrical foot; "To err is human forgive, divine"

Folk Ballad

Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part of the folk culture.

Literary Ballad

also called an art ballad that imitates the form and spirit of the folk ballad, but is more polished and uses a higher level of poetic diction

Blank Verse

poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter; often found in Shakespeare's works


an absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something in a literary or dramatic work; a parody


a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds; opposite of euphony


a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect


the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.


a group of performers, in Greek drama, who comment on the main action, typically speaking and moving together.


the following of ancient Greek or Roman principles and style in art and literature, generally associated with harmony, restraint, and adherence to recognized standards of form and craftsmanship


a word or phrase that is not formal or literary, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation.


a fanciful expression in writing or speech; an elaborate metaphor


the recurrence of similar sounds, such as consonants, in close proximity


a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun; may also be a paradox or difficult problem


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


word choice; also called syntax


written or spoken language and literary works


the grating of sounds that are harsh or do not go together


a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead

End Rhyme

a rhyme that comes at the end of lines of poetry


a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation


a pithy saying or remark expressing an idea in a clever and amusing way; a short poem having a witty or ingenious ending


the quality of being pleasing to the ear through a harmonious combination of words


a model moralizing or illustrative story


the part of a play or work of fiction in which the background to the main conflict is introduced and revealed


a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations

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

expressions such as similes, metaphors, and personifications that make imaginative, rather than literal, comparisons or asscociatons


a character who, by contrast, highlights the characteristics of another character


the traditional beliefs, customs, stories, and songs of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth


the combination of stressed and unstressed syllables that makes up the basic rhythmic unit of a line of poetry


a metrical foot consisting of two short or unstressed syllables followed by one long or stressed syllable; in-ter-rupt


a metrical foot consisting of one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables or one long syllable followed by two short syllables; beau-ti-ful


a metrical foot consisting of one short unstressed syllable followed by one long stressed syllable; dis-turb


a foot consisting of two long or stressed syllables; hodge-podge


a foot consisting of one long or stressed syllable followed by one short or unstressed syllable; in-jure and con-stant


be a warning or indication of a future event in a story

Free Verse

poetry that is written without a regular meter, usually without ryme


a category of literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter


referring to a type of novel that emerged in the eighteenth century that uses mystery, suspense, and sensational and supernatural occurrences to evoke terror


in Greek tragedies, excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis


anything that causes laughter or amusement


exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally


a short description in verse or prose of a picturesque scene or incident, esp. in rustic life


visually descriptive or figurative language in a literary work

Interior Monologue

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

Internal Rhyme

a rhyme occurring within a line of poetry


reversal of the normal order of words, typically for rhetorical effect but also found in the regular formation of questions in English


the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect

Loose Sentence

a sentence that is grammatically complete before its end


expressing the writer's emotions, usually short and briefly and in stanzas or recognized form


a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable


the repetition of a regular rhythmic unit in a line of peotry


One foot


Two feet


Three feet


Four feet


Five feet


Six feet


Seven feet


the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant


the method or form of a literary work: a manner in which a work of literature is written


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


a traditional story, concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events


the action or process of narrating a story


19th-century artistic and literary movement, influenced by contemporary ideas of science and society, that rejected the idealization of experience and adopted an objective and often uncompromisingly realistic approach to art.


an impersonal presentation of events and characters


a lyric poem in the form of an address to a particular subject, often elevated in style or manner and written in varied or irregular meter


the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named; cuckoo; sizzle


a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction


a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels


a statement or proposition that leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory


the use of successive verbal constructions in poetry or prose that correspond in grammatical structure, sound, meter, meaning


an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect


a work of literature portraying or evoking country life, typically in a romanticized or idealized form

Periodic Sentence

a sentence that is not grammatically complete until it's last phrase


the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman


a mode of discourse in which the action or fact of persuading someone or of being persuaded to do or believe something

Petrarchan Sonnet

one of the most important types of sonnets, composed of an octave with abba abba rhyme scheme and ending in a sestet with cde cde rhyme scheme; also called an Italian sonnet

Point of View

the perspective from which a story is presented

First Person Narrator

character in a story who relates their actions and thoughts through his or her perspective

Stream of Consciousness Narrator

similar to first person, but places the reader in the character's head

Omniscient Narrator

a third person narrator who is able to see into other character's minds and understand all their actions

Limited Omniscient Narrator

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

Objective Narrator

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


the leading character or one of the major characters in a literary work


late 19th-century movement that meant to portray and focus on simple and unidealized treatment of contemporary life


repeated line or number of lines in a poem or song, typically at the end of each verse


an element in literature that conveys a realistic portrayal of a specific geographical locale, using the locale and its influences as a major part of the plot


a similarity of accented sounds between two words

Masculine Ryhme

the rhyme sound is the last syllable of a line

Feminine Ryhme

the accented syllable is followed by an unaccented syllable


a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual


the use of irony to mock or convey contempt


a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid


an act of speaking one's thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play


a poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, in English typically having ten syllables per line


the voice of a poem; an author may speak as himself or herself or as a fictional character


a group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem; a verse


the simplest stanza, consisting of two rhymed lines


three lines, usually having the same rhyme


Four lines


Five lines


Six lines


Eight lines


a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing

Stock Character

a standard character who may be stereotyped such as the miser or fool


an author's characteristic manner of expression


based on or influenced by the authors personal feelings, tastes, or opinion

Suspension of Disbelief

the demand made of a theater audience to provide some details with their imagination and to accept the limitations of reality and staging; also the acceptance of the incident of the plot by the reader or audience


the use of symbols to represent both literal and representative ideas or qualities with a more complex significance


a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa


the word choice of diction


the central idea or message of a literary work


the characteristic emotion of attitude of an author toward the characters, subject, and audience

Tragic Flaw

the one weakness that causes the downfall of the hero in a tragedy


a lyric poem consisting of five tercets ad a final question


the way a written work conveys an author's atittude


Four strong beats; "To err is human forgive, divine"


Two word poetic renaming; sea-paths (rivers); Lord of life, Ruler of glory (God)


Brief, descriptive phrases used to characterize people or things


Greek word for character flaws. (Often used instead of "character flaws" on AP Test)

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

Voice Recording