Literary Terms

Poetry Terms
Alliteration: the repetition of initial consonant sounds. (Suzy sold seashells down by
the seashore.)
Allusion: a reference to a well-known person, event, literary work, or work of art.
Assonance: the repetition of vowel sounds followed by different consonants in two
or more stressed syllables. (frayed and wavering)
Blank Verse: poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter lines.
Consonance: the repetition of final consonant sounds in stressed syllable with
different vowel sounds, as in hat and sit.
Couplet: a pair of rhyming lines, usually of the same length and meter.
Description: a portrait in words of a person, place, or object.
Denotation: dictionary definition of a word
Dialogue: a conversation between characters that may reveal their traits and
advance the action of a narrative.
Diction: an author’s choice or words, especially with regard to range and vocabulary,
use of slang and colloquial language, and level of formality.
Figurative Language: writing or speech not meant to be interpreted literally.
Free Verse: poetry not written in a regular pattern of meter or rhyme.
Hyperbole: a deliberate exaggeration or overstatement.
Idiom: an expression that is characteristic of a language, region, community or class
of people.
Image: a word or phrase that appeals to one or more of the five senses- sight,
hearing, touch, taste, or smell.
Imagery: the descriptive or figurative language used in literature to create word
pictures for the reader.
Irony: the general term for literacy techniques that portray differences between
appearance and reality, or expectations and result.
Lyric Poem: a highly musical verse that expresses the thoughts, observations, and
feelings of a single speaker.
Metaphor: comparing two unlike objects without using the word like or as.
Mood: the feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage.
Narrator: is a speaker or character who tells a story.
Narrative poetry: poetry that tells a story
Onomatopoeia: the use of words that imitate sounds. (Whirr, thud, sizzle,)
Oxymoron: a combination of words, or parts of words, that contradict each other.
(Honest thief, wise fool)
Paradox: a statement that is self contradictory because it often contains two
statements that are both true, but in general, cannot be true at the
same time. (I’m a compulsive liar; the beginning of the end)
Personification: a type of figurative language in which a nonhuman subject is given
human characteristics. (The flame danced across the room).
Prose: the ordinary form of written language.
Protagonist: the main character in a literary work.
Repetition: the use of any element of language- sound, a word, a phrase, a clause, or
a sentence- more than once.
Rhyme: the repetition of sounds at the ends of words.
Rhyme Scheme: a regular pattern a rhyming words in a poem.
Satire: literary work that ridicules the foolishness and faults of individuals, an
institution, society, or even humanity in general.
Simile: a figure of speech in which the words like or as are used to compare two
apparently dissimilar items.
Sonnet: a 14-lien lyric poem
Speaker: the imaginary voice assumed by the writer of a poem.
Stanza: a repeated grouping of two or more lines in a poem that often share a
pattern of rhythm and rhyme.
Symbol: anything that stands for something else.
Theme: a central message or insight into life revealed through a literary work.
Tone: a literary work is the writer’s attitude toward his audience and subject.