How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

90 terms

AP Literary Terms

STUDY
PLAY
ambiguity
uncertainty or inexactness of meaning in language.
anachronism
a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, esp. a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned/modern.
archetype
a very typical example of a certain person or thing.
concrete language
Specific, literal word usage
connotation
an idea or feeling that a word invokes
denotation
the literal or primary meaning of a word
details
an individual feature, fact, or item
didactic
intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive
epigraph
a quotation at the beginning of a poem, short story, book chapter, or other piece of literature
explication
the act of making clear or removing obscurity from the meaning of a word or symbol or expression; a detailed explanation of the meaning of something
foreshadowing
be a warning or indication of (a future event)
image
a representation of the external form of a person or thing
imagery
visually descriptive
mood
a temporary state of mind or feeling conceived by the speaker
moral
a lesson
motif
a unifying idea that is a recurrent element
parable
a short moral story
syntax
the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.
theme
the subject of a talk, a unifying idea
tone
the quality of something that reveals the attitudes and presuppositions of the author
allegory
a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one
allusion
an indirect or passing reference
apostrophe
a speaker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an imaginary person or abstract quality or idea
epithet
glorified nickname
euphemism
the substitution of a mild, indirect expression for one thought to be offensive
figurative language
words that exaggerate the usual meanings of the component words
hyperbole
a deliberate, extravagant and often outrageous exaggeration used for either serious or comic effect
dramatic irony
the reader/audience knows the future but the actors/characters do not
verbal irony
what is stated is the opposite of what is meant
situational irony
outcome is opposite to what was expected
litotes
ironical understatement as a double negative
romantic irony
the procedure by which apparently significant gestures, assertions, or decisions are made only to immediately collapse
direct metaphor
direct comparison between 2 like things
Ex: Juliet is the sun.
implied/indirect metaphor
reader builds metaphor from what is implied
Ex: Juliet shines.
conceit metaphor
extended metaphor that uses shocking or unrelated comparison
metonymy
something is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something else associated in meaning with it; nickname(sorta)
Ex: Hollywood
oxymoron
contradiction of two words
paradox
contrasting themes
personification
describing an inanimate object with human-like qualities
pun
humorous or rhetorical use of a word or phrase to suggest different meanings or homophonic qualities
simile
compare 2 unlike things with like or as
symbol
object or idea that represents something
synaesthesia
one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sense
synedoche
a part refers to the whole
Ex: all hands on deck
understatement
the presentation of something as being smaller, worse, or less important than it actually is
climax
high point of story; most exciting part
internal conflict
within self
external conflict
against outside forces
denouement/resolution
outcome/conclusion/ending (conflict is resolved)
exposition
introduces the situation, characters, setting, conflict
falling action
excitement starts falling; action slows
fiction
made up
epiphany
an experience of sudden and striking realization
inciting events
where the action begins; the part that grabs the reader's attention
motivation
the reasons behind a character's behavior
sociological novel
defined as a work of fiction that focuses on the sociological and economical conditions of characters or events
historical novel
a novel set in the past and intended to evoke the conditions of a past period.
regional novel
type of novel that concentrates on the people in a specific location
novel of ideas
Philosophical novels
epistolary
a novel written as a series of documents
gothic roman
a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance
bildungsroman
a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character
plot
sequence of events in a story; "what happens"
rising action
action is building, excitement and suspense grow
setting
the time, place, and circumstances in which the action takes place.
style
the way a writer uses the language in a work
unity
The sense that all the elements in a piece of writing fit together to create a harmonious effect
quixotic
a novel that is extravagantly chivalrous or romantic
antagonist
opponent
catharsis
cleansing
direct characterization
the narrator or a character in the story tells us what we need to know about a character
indirect characterization
we find out about characters indirectly through thoughts, comments, or actions of the characters
epiphany
sudden realization
flat character
does not undergo substantial change or growth in the course of a story
foil
a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character
hamartia
tragic and fatal flaw
hubris
extreme self pride/arrogance
peripety
a
protagonist
a
round character
a
static character
a
stock character
a
first person point of view
a
persona
a
point of view
a
second person point of view
a
third person point of view
a
third person limited
aa
third person omniscient
a
third person objective
a