Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons

Literary Terms Reference Sheet
_____ 1. Adage: a short, but memorable saying, based on an important fact of experience that is considered true by many people.
E.g. , “Don't count your chickens before they hatch.”
_____ 2. Ad hominem argument (invective) is Latin for “to the man” an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a
negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it or attacking the man. e.g. "You can't believe John when he
says the proposed policy would help the economy. He doesn't even have a job."
_____ 3. Allegory: is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the
meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political
significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas such as charity, greed, or envy. Thus an
allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
_____ 4. Alliteration: repetition of the same sound beginning several words in sequence. e.g., “Let us go forth to lead the
land we love.” - J. F. Kennedy, Inaugural
_____ 5. Allusion: is a brief reference to a person, event, or place, real or fictitious, or to a work of art –a casual reference to a
famous historical or literary figure or event. An allusion may be drawn from history, geography, literature, or
religion. e.g. “Harriet Tubman was called the Moses of her time.”
_____ 6. Analogy: a comparison between two things, or pairs of things, to reveal their similarities; sometimes expressed as a
simile, e.g. “His head was like the dome of a cathedral.”
_____ 7. Anecdote: is a short and relevant story that helps to illustrate a main idea or key point.
_____ 8. Antagonist: a character in a story or poem who deceives, frustrates, or works again the main character, or protagonist, in
some way. The antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be a person. It could be death, the devil, an illness, or any
challenge that prevents the main character from living “happily ever after."
_____ 9. Archetype: is the usage of any object or situation as it was originally made - think of it as the biggest cliché ever, but one
that never dies. e.g. Odysseus is the archetypical hero.
_____ 10. Apostrophe: is a form of personification in which the absent or dead are spoken to as if present and the inanimate, as if
animate. These are all addressed directly.
_____ 11. Colloquial: Refers to a type of informal diction that reflects casual, conversational language and often includes slang
expressions. See also diction.
_____ 12. Concrete Details: When an author uses facts or quotes taken from a source to support his/her opinion. Concrete may
also refer to writing using specific objects people can see and touch.
_____ 13. Connotation: is an association that comes along with a particular word. Connotations relate not to a word's actual
meaning, or denotation, but rather to the ideas or qualities that are implied by that word.
_____ 14. Deduction: The process of logic in which a thinker takes a rule for a large, general category and assumes that specific
individual examples fitting that general category obey the same rule. This process is the opposite of induction.
Deductive thinking is also called syllogistic thinking.
_____ 15. Denotation: The minimal, strict definition of a word found in the dictionary, disregarding any historical or emotional
connotation. Contrast with connotation.
_____ 16. Dialogue: The lines spoken by a character/s in a play, essay, story, or novel, especially a conversation between two
characters, or a literary work that takes the form of such a discussion (e.g., Plato’s Republic). Bad dialogue is pointless.
_____ 17. Diction: Is word choice intended to convey a certain effect. The word choice a writer makes determines the reader’s
reaction to the object of description, and contributes to the author’s style and tone.
_____ 18. Elegy/eulogy/epitaph: Elegy refers to any mournful, melancholic poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the
dead; eulogy refers to a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, and epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased
person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque.
_____ 19. Ethos/logos/pathos: Aristotle – methods of argument. Ethos: appealing the ethical, moral; Logos: appealing to logic
Pathos: appealing to sympathy, emotion.
_____ 20. Euphemism: is a generally harmless word, name, or phrase that substitutes an offensive or suggestive one. Generally
the opposite of blasphemy (evil-speak). e.g. Oh snap!
_____ 21. Fable: A prose or verse narrative intended to convey a moral. Animals or inanimate objects with human
characteristics often serve as characters fables. e.g., Aesop's "The Tortoise and the Hare."
_____ 22. Frame Story or Narrative: is a literary technique that sometimes serves as a companion piece to a story within a story,
whereby an introductory or main narrative is presented, at lest in part, for the purpose of setting the state either for a
more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories.
_____ 23. Hubris: It’s a negative term implying both arrogant, excessive self-pride or self-confidence that leads a protagonist to
disregard a divine warning or to violate an important moral law. In tragedies, hubris is a very common form of hamartia
or tragic flaw, especially a misperception, a lack of some important insight, or some blindness that ironically results
from one’s own strength’s and abilities.
_____ 24. Hypothetical question: A question formed using assumed or proven facts, dedicated to arriving at a generalized
_____ 25. Idiom: An expression where the meaning of words should not be taken literal, but should be defined in another context
altogether. e.g., kick the bucket, break a leg.
_____ 26. Imagery: In literature, when an author provides the reader with a set of mental pictures or images using vivid language
and people’s senses to represent objects, actions, or ideas.
_____ 27. Inductive reasoning/deductive reasoning: Deduction is when reasoning is done from the general to specific.
Induction is when reasoning is done from the specific to the general. If the author of the argument believes that the
premise is absolutely the truth due to its definition, math calculations, logic, or scientific evidence and this truth leads
him/her to deductive reasoning. When the author of an argument makes inferences to form a general conclusion,
he/she is practicing inductive reasoning.
_____ 28. Motif: A recurrent thematic element in an artistic or literary work; a dominant theme or central idea.
_____ 29. Narration: first, second, third limited and omniscient
_____ 30. Oxymoron: apparent paradox achieved by the juxtaposition of words that seem to contradict one another.
e.g. “I must be cruel only to be kind.” (Shakespeare, Hamlet)
_____ 31. Paradox: an assertion seemingly opposed to common sense, but that may yet have some truth in it.
e.g. “What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young” - George Bernard Shaw
_____ 32. Parallelism: Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses.
_____ 33. Personification: is a kind of metaphor that gives inanimate (lifeless) objects or abstract ideas are made to act and
human characteristics. e.g. The wind cried in the dark.
_____ 34. Protagonist: A protagonist is considered to be the main character or lead figure in a novel, play, story, or
poem. It may also be referred to as the "hero" of a work.
_____ 35. Pun: the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of
another word similar in sound.
_____ 36. Rhetoric: The art of communication and persuasion. “Rhetoric is the art of speaking well.” (Quintlian)
_____ 37. Satire: a literary term 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. A piece of literature designed to ridicule the subject of the work. While
satire can be funny, its aim is not to amuse, but to arouse contempt. Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" satirizes the
English people, making them seem dwarfish in their ability to deal with large thoughts, issues, or deeds.
_____ 38. Simile: an explicit comparison between two things using 'like' or 'as'.
_____ 39. Utopia: An ideal place or state. Any vision of a socially and politically perfect society. From Greek roots, it derives its
meaning from the words outopia, meaning "no place" and eutopia, meaning " a place where everything is right." In a
sense, a utopian land in fiction becomes both a place that never quite existed as it is portrayed and a place where
everything seems perfect. It is an imagined world.