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Terms for Lit Terms Test


Story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities. Ex. Animal Farm


Reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to something.


Calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place or thing, or a personified abstract idea.


An adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently used to emphasize a characteristic quality. Ex. "Father of our country" and "the great Emancipator"


Is the substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the listener.

Figurative Language

Words which are inaccurate if interpreted literally, but are used to describe. Similes and metaphors are common forms.


A figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement, for effect.


A discrepancy between appearances and reality.

Verbal Irony

Occurs when someone says one thing but really means something else.

Situational Irony

Takes place when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what really does happen.

Dramatic Irony

Is so called because it is often used on stage. A character in the play or story thinks one thing is true, but the audience or reader knows better.

Romantic Irony

The procedure by which apparently significant gestures or assertions or decisions are made only immediately to collapse.


a type of understatement in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite. Ex. describing a particularly horrific scene by saying, "It was not a pretty picture."


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.

Direct Metaphor

A direct comparison is made. Ex. "Juliet is the sun."

Indirect Metaphor

The reader builds the metaphor from what is implied. Ex. "Juliet shines."

Conceit Metaphor

An elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are extremely different from each other.


A figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing, is referred to by something closely associated with it. Ex. "We requested from the crown support for our petition" The crown is used to represent the monarch.


A figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase. Ex. "Jumbo shrimp","Pretty ugly","Bitter-sweet".


A statement that appears self-contradictory, but that reveals a kind of truth.


A figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.


A "play on words" based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words that sound alike but mean different things.


A figure of speech that makes an explicitly comparison between two unlike things, using words such as like, as, than, or resembles.


A person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and that also stands for something more than itself.


The term is applied in literature to the description of one kind of sensation in terms of another; the use of one kind of sensory experience to describe another.


Using a part of something to represent the whole thing.


A statement that says less than what is meant.


Most exciting moment of the story; turning point


A struggle between opposing forces. Man vs. Man, Man vs. society, Man vs. himself and Man vs. nature.

internal Conflict

A conflict that takes place within a character's own self, usually concerning a moral dilemma in which the character must make a decision.

Exernal Conflict

A struggle between a charactars and outside force and their charcter, society or naturea.


an outcome or solution; the unraveling of a plot, In a plot, the tying up of loose ends. In a tragedy, sometimes called the catastrophe. (Pronounced day new MAH)


A narrative device, often used at the beginning of a work that provides necessary background information about the characters and their circumstances.

falling Action

Events after the climax, leading to the resolution


A story that is not true or is made up


A moment of sudden revelation or insight

Inciting Events

the event(s) that triggers the conflict.


A character's incentive or reason for behaving in a certain manner; that which impels a character to act


A long fictional narrative written in prose, usually having many characters and a strong plot.

Sociological Novel

emphasizes the influence of economic and social conditions on characters and events and often embodies an implicit thesis for social reform.

Historical Novel

full-length fiction book, using historical facts as its basis for plot or setting, but including imaginary characters and dialogue.

Regional Novel

A novel faithful to a particular geographic region and its people, including behavior, customs, speech, and history.

Novel of Ideas

a novel in which the examination of intellectual issues and concepts takes precedence over characterization or a traditional storyline


A piece of literature contained in or carried on by letters

Gothic Romance

A form of novel in which magic, mystery, horrors, and chivalry abound; works having extravagant characters, remote or exotic settings, adventure, magic, chivalry, and love.


A coming of age story


Sequence of events in a story

Rising Action

A series of events that builds from the conflict. It begins with the inciting force and ends with the climax.


The context in time and place in which the action of a story occurs.


A combination of formatting characteristics such as alignment, font, font size, font color, fill color, and borders that are applied simultaneously.


A work of fiction or nonfiction is said to be unified is all the parts are related to one central idea or organizing principle. Thus, unity is dependent upon coherence.


A character or force in conflict with the main character


(psychoanalysis) purging of emotional tensions


A method an author uses to let readers know more about the characters and their personal traits.

Direct Charaterization

When the writer directly tells us the personality of a character

Indirect Characterization

the author reveals to the reader what the character is like by describing how the character looks and dresses, by letting the reader hear what the character says, by revealing the character's private thoughts and feelings, by revealing the characters effect on other people (showing how other characters feel or behave toward the character), or by showing the character in action. Common in modern literature

Dynamic Character

A character who grows, learns, or changes as a result of the story's action

Flat Character

A character who embodies a single quality and who does not develop in the course of a story


A character who is in most ways opposite to the main character (protagonist) or one who is nearly the same as the protagonist. The purpose of the foil character is to emphasize the traits of the main character by contrast only


(tragic flaw) act, moral flaw or intellectual mistake


arrogant presumption or pride


Reversal in the hero's fortunes, a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or reverse of circumstances (especially in a literary work)


Main Character

Round Character

A character who demonstrates some complexity and who develops or changes in the course of a work

Static Character

A character that does not change from the beginning of the story to the end

Stock Character

the stereotyped character in which he is immediately known from typical characters in history

First Person Point of View

a character in the story is actually telling the story himself/herself


An individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Point of View

the perspective from which a story is told

Second Person Point of View

The narrator tells the story using the pronouns "You", "Your," and "Yours" to address a reader or listener directly

Third person Point of view

someone on the outside is looking in and telling the story as he/she see it unfold.

Third person Limited

Narrator sees the world through only one characters eyes and thoughts.

Third person Omniscient

Point of view in which an all-knowing narrator who is privy to the thoughts and actions of any or all characters.

third person Objective

The narrator is an outsider who can report only what he or she sees and hears. This narrator can tell us what is happening, but he can't tell us the thoughts of the characters.


uncertainty in meaning


An event or detail existing out of its proper time in history.


A detail, image, or character type that occurs frequently in literature and myth and is thought to appeal in a universal way to the unconscious and to evoke a response

Concrete Language

Language that describes specific, observable things, people, or places, rather than ideas or qualities.


the suggested,or implied,meaning of a word, not its strict literal meaning; an idea or feeling associated with a word


Dictionary definition


The facts revealed by the author or speaker that support the attitude or tone in a piece of poetry or prose.


A brief quotation found at the beginning of a literary work, reflective of theme.


act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text, usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.


Clues in a story that suggest later events


Description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste), Describing words and phrases that re-create sensory experiences for the reader. This usually appeals to the five senses.


Description that appeals to the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)


Feeling or atmosphere that a writer creates for the reader


A practical lesson about right and wrong conduct often stated at the conclusion of an instructive story such as a fable.


A recurring theme, subject or idea


A metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life and told in a simple story or riddle; it uses comparisons to teach a moral or lesson.


Sentence structure


Central idea of a work of literature


Attitudes and presuppositions of the author that are revealed by their linguistic choices (diction, syntax, rhetorical devices)

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