Terms to Know

Terms to Know
Alliteration—repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words
Ex) “laugh, leaning back in my arms/for life’s not a paragraph”
Allegory—a story where everything is a symbol for something else
Ex) Animal Farm
Allusion—An indirect reference to another literary work or a famous person, place or event. A
very specific symbol that the reader must have prior knowledge of to understand.
Antagonist—The “bad guy”…the source working against the protagonist/main character…does
not have to necessarily be a person but can be nature or another source.
Antithesis—opposition or contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction.
Ex) “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more”
Ex) “They promised freedom and provided slavery”
Autobiography—Story of one’s life written by that person.
Biography—story of a person’s life written by another person. Based on fact.
Cacophony—Harsh, discordant sounds
Caesura—a pause in a line of poetry not necessarily by meter but by natural speaking rhythm
Conflict--is the struggle found in fiction. Conflict/Plot may be internal or external and is best seen
in: man v. man, man v. self, man v. nature
Connotation—The feeling the word creates for the reader.
Climax—The turning point in the story…may point to the resolution of the story
Denotation—The dictionary definition of a word…Its literal meaning
Diction—a writer or speaker’s choice of words and way of arranging the words. Describe the
diction with an adjective (heavenly, religious, formal, informal, macabre, etc.)
Discourse—The language in which a subject or area of knowledge is discussed. We will deal with
four modes of discourse
 Persuasion—the essay is persuading the reader to agree with the viewpoint of the author
 Exposition—essay is designed to simply convey information
 Description—Essay fully describes a topic
 Narrative—essay tells a story or of an event, may be fictional or true, may be prose or
Epithet—a brief descriptive phrase that points out traits of a particular person or thing (“the evil
mastermind” …”The master strategist”)
Euphony—soothing pleasant sounds
Falling Action—the resolution, happens at the end of story, when the conflict is resolved.
Fiction—prose that is imaginary. Not true. May be based on actual events but mostly imaginative.
Figurative Language—communicates idea beyond the ordinary literal meaning…figures of speech.
First person point of view—told by a character in the story. Uses I, me, etc.
Flashback---Conversation, episode or event that happens before a story
Foreshadowing—Use of hints or clues to indicate events and situations that will occur later on in
the story.
Free Verse—Poetry that does not rhyme.
Hyperbole—Figure of speech where truth is exaggerated for effect.
Imagery—Descriptive words and phrases that recreate sensory experiences. Words that create
mental images.
Irony—Contrast between appearance and reality usually when reality is the opposite from what it
Limited—point of view where only one person’s thoughts; the narrator does not see all angles of
the story, the reader only sees details through the narrator’s eyes
Memoir—a narrative based on personal experience
Metaphor—A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things without using like or
as. Uses is/are or a form of to be.
Ex) Happiness is a summer day, warm but gone too soon.
Meter—The more or less regular pattern of accented and unaccented syllables in poetry
Metonymy—figure of speech in which one thing is represented by another that is commonly and
often physically associated with it.
Ex) calling a monarch “the crown”
Ex) calling someone’s handwriting his/her “hand”
Mood—The feeling the reader takes away from the work. Feeling or atmosphere the work creates.
Motif—a reoccurring theme or idea throughout a work.
Non-fiction-Prose that is true. Actual events.
Novel—a lengthy fictional prose narrative
Novella—a fictional prose narrative ranging from fifty to one hundred pages. Longer than a short
story but shorter than a novel.
Ex) Animal Farm, Anthem
Omniscient—literally means “all knowing.” The narrator knows all and sees all, like God.
Onomatopoeia—use of words like pow, buzz, crunch. The pronunciation sounds like the meaning.
A sound word.
Oxymoron—putting two contradictory words together
Ex) Jumbo Shrimp
Ex) pretty ugly
Paradox—statement that seems to contradict itself but is nonetheless true
Ex) To make peace, you must prepare for war…Standing is more tiring than walking.
Ex) Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage
Personification—giving human characteristics to a non-human thing.
Ex) The trees danced in the wind.
Point of View—the viewpoint from which a narrative is told. May be 1st, 2nd or 3rd person. 3rd
person may be omniscient or limited.
Plot—Series of events in a story.
Protagonist—The central character or hero in a story. The “good guy”
Repetition—Repeated use of words or phrases for effect or emphasis.
Rising Action---The events in a story that move the plot along. May build suspense up to the
turning point.
Satire—a literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the
intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satiric attack.
Setting-where a narrative takes place. Consider not only the geographic location but time period,
cultural context, props, technology, etc. and the effect setting has on characterization, theme and
other elements of fiction.
Simile—A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things using like or as.
Ex)Dressed like a Spanish waiter…Smiled as if she was the cat who swallowed the canary
Stanza—grouping of two or more lines in a pattern repeated throughout a poem. Kind of like a
paragraph in prose.
Symbolism—When a person, place, activity or object stands for something beyond itself.
Ex)Dove is a symbol of peace
Synecdoche—using a part to represent the whole
Ex) lend me your ears
Syntax—Order/Way a writer arranges the words or sentence structure.
Third Person Point of View—When a story is told by an outside narrator.
Theme—The message or insight about life or human nature presented to the reader.
Tone—The attitude a writer or speaker takes towards a subject.