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a list of common ap literary terms for students


the repetition of initial identical consonant sounds or iny vowel sound in successive or closely associated syllables. Ex: fair breeze blew, the white foam flew...


a reference to another work of literature, person, or event


unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning, often misunderstood or interpreted in more than one way.


the repetition of similar vowels in the stressed syllables of successive words


a type of poem that is meant to be sung and is both lyric and narrative in nature

blank verse

unrhymed verse (usually in iambic pentameter)


suggested or implied meaning of an expression


a stanza consisting of two successive lines of verse


A writer's or speaker's choice of words

end rhyme

Rhyme that occurs at the end of two or more lines of poetry


a long narrative poem telling of a hero & deeds

figurative language

Language that employs one or more figures of speech to add color or richness to poetry.[examples are metaphor, simile, and personification.

free verse

Poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme


a figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, make a point, or evoke humor


a metrical unit with unstressed-stressed syllables


A concrete representation of a sense impression, a feeling, or an idea, appeals to the 5 senses.

internal rhyme

rhyme between words that occurs within a single line of poetry


A contradiction or incongruity between the implied and expected; verbal, dramatic, situational.


a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things WITHOUT the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles


a theme or idea in a work of art or literature that is developed or repeated


using words that imitate the sound they denote


n. a figure of speech combining apparently contradictory terms, e.g., visible darkness


a verse line having five metrical feet


the act of attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas etc.


a humorous play on words


a stanza of four lines


a fixed number of lines of verse forming a unit of a poem


Similarities in sound, especially with respect to the last syllable, echoing in poetry.


The process of marking lines of poetry to show the type of feet and the number of feet they contain as well as rhyme pattern.


a verse form consisting of 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme of : ababcdcdefefgg.


Anything that stands for or represents something else larger or more complex.


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


the statement expressed or implied that a text seems to be making about its subject


Organizational rules specifying word order, sentence organization, and word relationships; the grammar of a poem.


A direct comparison made between two unlike things, using a word of comparison such as like, as, than, such as, or resembles.

rhyme scheme

A pattern of end rhymes in a poem; noted by assigning a letter of the alphabet, beginning with a, to each line; lines that rhyme are given the same letter.


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


A regularly repeated line or group of lines in a poem or song


A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry


A 5 line humerous or bawdy poem rhyming in an aabba pattern.


A Japanese poem with 3 lines, 5-7-5 syllables, freq. about nature

end stopped line

A line that ends with a natural speech pause, usually marked by punctuation.


Dictionary definition of a word


An expression that has been overused to the extent that its freshness has worn off


A unit of rhythm in verse consisting of a stressed and unstressed syllable pattern.

heroic couplet

Iambic pairs in poetry that rhyme at the end, very strict and formal in nature.


The telling of the story.

point of view

The vantage point from which the story is told. 1st person uses I, me or my. 3rd person uses she, him, her or they. Rarely is 2nd person used.


Reiteration of a word, sound, phrase or idea in poetry.


The way a writer uses language, including diction, word choice, connotation,denotation, dialect, figures of speech etc.

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