99 terms

AP Language & Literature Terms

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Allegory
A story in which each aspect of the story has a symbolic meaning outside the tale itself.
Alliteration
The repetition of initial consonant sounds.
Allusion
A reference to another work or famous figure.
Ambiguity
The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.
Analogy
A comparison, usually involving two or more symbolic parts, employed to clarify an action or a relationship.
Anaphora
A sub-type of parallelism, when the exact repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive lines or sentences.
Antecedent
The word, phrase, or clause that determines what a pronoun refers to.
Antithesis
An opposition or contrast of ideas. Balancing words, phrases, or ideas that are strongly contrasted, often by means of grammatical structure.
Aphorism
A short and usually witty saying.
Apostrophe
A figure of speech wherein the speaker talks directly to something that is nonhuman.
Atmosphere
The emotional tone or background that surrounds a scene
Argumentative Appeals
Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Ethos is the credibility of the author. Logos is the logic used by the author. Pathos is strategy of emotion to help readers accept their claim.
Cacophony
(n) harsh-sounding mixture of words, voices, or sounds
Caricature
A portrait (verbal or otherwise) that exaggerates a facet of personality.
Catharsis
Drawn from Aristotle's writings on tragedy. Refers to the "cleansing" of emotion an audience member experiences during a play
Clause
A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb.
Colloquial/Colloquialism
The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing. Not generally acceptable for formal writing, but give a work a conversational, familiar tone. Include local or regional dialect
Conceit (Controlling Image)
A startling or unusual metaphor, or a metaphor developed and expanded upon several lines.
Connotation
Everything other than the literal meaning that a word suggests or implies.
Denotation
The strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color.
Diction
The words an author chooses to use.
Didactic
literally means "teaching." These words have the primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.
Digression
The use of material unrelated to the subject of the work.
Denouement
The final stage in the plot structure in which the problems is solved.
Deus Ex Machina
An otherwise incomprehensible solution to a problem; from "out of the blue."
Epiphany
A moment of sudden revelation or insight.
Epistrophe
ending of a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words.
Epitaph
Lines that commemorate the dead at their burial place.
Euphemism
Are a more agreeable or less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept.
Extended Metaphor
A metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work.
Farce
Extremely broad humor; in earlier times, a funny play or a comedy.
Figurative Language
Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative and vivid.
Figure of Speech
A device used to produce figurative language. Many compare dissimilar things.
Foil
A secondary character whose purpose is to highlight the characteristics of a main character, usually by contrast.
Foreshadowing
A narrative device that hints at coming events; often builds suspense or anxiety in the reader.
Generic Conventions
This term describes traditions for each genre.
Genre
A sub-category of literature. The major category into which a literary work fits in.
Homily
This term literally means "sermon," but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice.
Hyperbole
Exaggeration or deliberate overstatement.
Hubris
The excessive pride or ambition that leads to the main character's downfall.
Idiom
An expression that cannot be understood if taken literally.
Imagery
The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions; related to the five senses: visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory.
Imperative
The mood of a verb that gives a command/order.
Inference/infer
To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented. If it is directly stated, then it is not this.
Invective
An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language. (For example, in Henry IV, Part hill of flesh.")
Irony/ironic
The contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant, or the difference between what appears to be and what is actually true. there are three major types: (1) verbal - when the words literally state the opposite of the writer's (or speaker's) meaning (2) situational - when events turn out the opposite of what was expected; when what the characters and readers think ought to happen is not what does happen (3) dramatic - when facts or events are unknown to a character in a play or piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or other characters in the work.
Jargon
A pattern of speech and vocabulary associated with a particular group of people. Computer analysis have their own vocabulary, as do doctors, plumbers, etc.
Juxtaposition
Placement of two things closely together to emphasize comparisons or contrasts.
Litotes
A form of understatement that involves making an affirmative point by denying its opposite. Examples: "Not a bad idea."
Loose Sentence
A sentence that is complete before its end: Jack loved Barbara despite her irritating snorting laugh.
Lyrical
Songlike, rhythmic structure.
Macabre
Grisly, gruesome; horrible, distressing; having death as a subject.
Melodrama
A form of cheesy theater in which the hero is very, very good, the villain mean and rotten, and the heroine oh-so-pure.
Metaphor
A comparison or analogy that states one thing IS another.
Metonymy
One word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated (such as crown for royalty).
Mood
The prevailing atmosphere or emotional aura of a work.
Motif
A principal idea, feature, theme, or element; a repeated or dominant figure in a design.
Narrative
The telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events.
Onomatopoeia
Words that sound like what they mean.
Oxymoron
A phrase composed of opposites; a contradiction.
Parable
A story that instructs.
Paradox
A situation or statement that seems to contradict itself, but on closer inspection, does not.
Parallelism
Repeated syntactical similarities used for effect.
Parody
A work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule.
Pastoral
A rural or natural setting.
Pedantic
An adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic, or bookish (language that might be described as "show-offy"; using big words for the sake of using big words).
Periodic Sentence
A sentence that is not grammatically complete until it has reached it s final phrase: Despite Barbara's irritation at Jack, she loved him.
Persona
The narrator in a non first-person novel.
Personification
When an inanimate object takes on human shape.
Plaint
A poem or speech expressing sorrow.
Point of View
The perspective from which the action of a novel is presented.
Precis
A brief synopsis.
Prelude
An introductory poem to a longer work of verse.
Protagonist
The main character of a novel or play.
Pun
The usually humorous use of a word in such a way to suggest two or more meanings.
Prose
One of the major divisions of genre, prose refers to fiction and nonfiction, including all its terms.
Repetition
The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as a sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.
Rhetoric
From the Greek for "orator," this term describes the principles governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently, and persuasively.
Rhetorical Modes
This flexible term describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of writing. The four most common are: purpose of exposition (writing), the purpose of argumentation, purpose of description, and the purpose of narration.
Rhetorical Question
A question that suggests an answer.
Sarcasm
From the Greek meaning "to tear flesh," sarcasm involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something.
Satire
A work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform or ridicule.
Semantics
The branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of words, their historical and psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another.
Setting
The background of the story: the physical location of a play, novel, or story; involves time and place.
Simile
A figure of speech when what is unknown is compared to something that is known using "like," "as," or "than".
Soliloquy
A speech spoken by a character alone on stage, meant to convey the impression that the audience is listening to the character's thoughts.
Style
The consideration has two purposes: an evaluation of the sum of the choices the author makes (diction, syntax, figurative language, etc...) and classification of authors to a group and comparison of an to similar authors.
Subordinate Clause
Like all clauses, this word group contains both a subject and a verb, but unlike the Independent Clause, the subordinate clause cannot stand alone; it does not express a complete thought. Also called a dependent clause.
Syllogism
A deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises (the first one called "major" and the second called "minor") that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion.
Symbolism
A device in literature where an object represents an idea.
Synecdoche
A figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole or, occasionally, the whole is used to represent a part. Examples: To refer to a boat as a "sail"; to refer to a car as "wheels".
Synesthesia
When one kind of sensory stimulus evokes the subjective experience of another. Example: The sight of red ants makes you itchy.
Syntax
The ordering and structuring of words.
Theme
The main idea of the overall work; the central idea.
Thesis
The main position of an argument. The writer's statement of purpose.
Tone
Similar to mood, tone describes the author's attitude toward his material, the audience, or both. Some words describing tone are playful, serious, sarcastic, humorous, formal, businesslike.
Transition
A word or phrase that links to different ideas. Used especially, although not exclusively, in expository and argumentative writing, effectively signal a shift from one idea to another.
Understatement
The ironic minimizing of fact; the opposite of hyperbole.
Wit
In modern usage, intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights. Usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement.
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