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AP Language & Composition Literary Terms
A list of literary terms and definitions for APL&C. (Updated)
Terms in this set (97)
Using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning.
The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds, in two or more neighboring words.
A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, etc.
The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.
A similarity or comparison between two different things or the replationship between them.
A sub-type of paralellism: the exact repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive lines or sentences.
The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.
The opposite or contrast of ideas, the direct opposite.
A terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral principle.
A firgure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person, or personified abstraction (such as liberty or love).
The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually in successive or proximate words.
A syntactical structure in which conjunctions are omitted in a series, usually producing more rapid prose; i.e., "Veni, vidi, veci."
The emotional nod created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author's choice of objects that are described.
The sense expressed by the tone of voice or the mood of a piece of writing: the author's feelings toward his or her subject, chracters, events, or theme.
That which has been accepted as authentic.
A verbal description, the purpose of which is to exaggerate or distort, for comedic effect,a person's distinctive physical features or other characteristics.
A figure of speech and generally a syntactical structure wherein the order of the terms in the first half of a parallel clause is reversed int he second.
In argumentation, an assertion of something as fact.
A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb.
The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing.
Compare and Contrast
A mode of discourse in which two or more things are compared, contrasted, or both.
A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects.
The non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning.
The repetition of two or more consonants with a change in the intervening vowels; i.e, pitter-patter, splish-splash.
A accepted manner, model, or tradition.
An assessment or analysis of something, for the purpose of determining what it is, what its limitations are, and how it conforms to the standard o fhte genre.
The method of argument in which specific statements and conclusions are drawn from general principals: movement from the general to the specific.
The strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color.
The language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific area, region, or group.
The writer's word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.
Words having the primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.
A poem or prose work that laments, or meditates upon the death of, a person or persons.
The repetition of a phrase at the end of successive sentences.
The appeal of a text to the credibility or character of the speaker, writer, or narrator.
A speech of written passage in praise of a person; an oration in honor of a deceased person.
A more agreeable or less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept.
Writing that explains its own meaning or purpose.
A metaphor developed at great length, occuring frequently in or throughout a work.
Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and its usually meant to be imaginative or vivid.
Figure of Speech
A device used to produce figurative language; many compare dissimilar things. Includes hyperbole, irony, metaphor, etc.
An earlier event is inserted into the normal chronolgy of the narration. Also known as retrospection.
Traditions for each genre, which help define genre.
The major category into which a literary work fits.
Any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving spiritual or moral advice.
A figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement.
The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions.
The method of reasoning or argument in which the general statements and conclusions are drawn from specific principles: movement from the specific to the general.
A conclusion or proposition arrived at by considering facts, observations, or some other specific data. Think Sherlock Holmes. :)
An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.
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.
Parallel structure in which the parallel element are similar not only in grammatical sructure but also in length.
Specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group.
The location of one thing adjacent to another to create an effect, reveal an attitude, or accomplish some other purpose.
A form of understatement that involves making an affirmative point by denying its opposite.
The appeal of a text to logic.
A type of sentence in which the main idea comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units such as phrases and clauses.
A figure of speech using implied comparison of seemingly unlike things or the substitution of one for the other, suggesting some similarity.
A figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it.
Mode of Discourse
The way information is presented in written or spoken form.
The prevailing atmosphere of emotional aura of a work.
The telling of a story or an accout of an event or series of events.
A figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words.
A firgure of speech wherein the author groups apparently contradictory terms to suggest a paradox.
A statement that seems to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth of validity.
The grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity.
A work that closely imitates the style or conduct of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule.
An appeal to emotion in a text or passage.
An adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic, or bookish.
A sentence that presents its central meaning in a main clause at the end. This independent clause is preceeded by a phrase that cannot stand alone.
A figure of speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects by endowing them with human attributes or emotions.
Point of View
The perspective from which a story is told.
One of the major divisions of genre; refers to fiction and nonfiction, including all its forms.
Attempting to describe nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail.
An argument technique wherein opposing arguments are anticipated and countered.
The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as a sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.
The principles governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently, and persuasively.
This flexible terms describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of writing.
A question that is asked simply for the sake of stylistic effect and is not expected to be answered.
Bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something.
A work that targets human vices or follies or social institutions and conventions for reform or ridicule.
The branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of words, their historical and psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another.
An evalutation of the sum of the choices an author makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices. OR, classification of authors to a group and comparison of an author to similar authors.
The word (with any accompanying phrases) or a clause that follows a linking verb and complements, or completes, the subject of the sentence by either renaming it or describing it.
This word group contains a subject and a verb, but it cannot stand alone; it does not express a complete thought.
A deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion. Since this is completely nonsensical, here's an example: Rose likes roses. Roses are flowers. Therefore, Rose likes flowers.
Anything that represents itself and stands for something else. It is usually something concrete - such as an object, action, character, or scene - that represents something more abstract.
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.
When one kind of sensory stimulus evokes the subjunctive experiences of another. In literature, it refers to the practice of associating two or more different senses in the same image.
The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences.
The central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life.
The sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author's purpose, opinion, meaning, or position.
Describes the author's attitude toward his material, the audience, or both.
A word or phrase that links different ideas.
The ironic minimalizing of fact, which presents something as less significant than it is. Can frequently be humerous or emphatic.
The aknowledged or unackowledged source of the words of the story; the speaker's or narrator's particular "take" on an idea based on a particular passage and how all the elements of the style of the piece come together to express his or her feelings.
Intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights. Humorous, while suggesting the speaker's verbal power in creating ingenious and perceptive remarks. Usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement.
A grammatically correct construction in which a word, usually a verb or adjective, is applied to two or more nouns without being repeated. I.e., The thief took my wallet and the Fifth Avenue bus.
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