allegory
The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. In some allegories, for example, an author may intend the characters to personify an abstraction like hope or freedom. The allegorical meaning usually deals with moral truth or a generalization about human existence.

alliteration
the repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words

ambiguity
The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage

anadiplosis
the repetition of a key word, especially the last one, at the beginning of the next sentence or clause

analogy
a similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them

anaphora
repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences for emphasis and rhythm

anathema
a thing or person accursed or damned; a thing or person greatly detested; a formal curse or condemnation excommunicating a person from a church or damning something; any strong curse

antecedent
the word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.

anticlimax
Using a sequence of ideas that abruptly diminish in dignity or importance at the end of a sentence, generally for satirical effect.

antimetabole
repeating words in reverse order for surprise and emphasis

antithesis
a contrast or opposition of thoughts, usually in two phrases, cluases, or sentences; the exact opposite

aphorism
a concise statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral principle. (if the authorship is unknown, the statement is generally considered to be a folk proverb); can be a memorable summation of the author’s point

apostrophe
a figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. The effect may add familiarity or emotional intensity.

archetype
the original pattern, or model from which all other things of the same kind are made; a perfect example of a type or group

assonance
the repetition of vowel sounds in a series of words

asyndeton
omission of conjunctions

atmosphere
the emotional mood created by a literary work

attitude
the position or posture assumed in connection with an action, feeling, mood. A manner of acting, feeling, or thinking that shows one’s disposition, opinion, or mental set, etc.

allusion
a direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art. (historical, literary, religious, or mythical)

balanced sentence
when the phrases or clauses balance each other by virtue of their likeness of structure, meaning or length

bathos
an abrupt change from the lofty to the ordinary or trivial in writing or speech; anticlimax

cacophony
harsh sounding, jarring sound; dissonance

chiasmus
similar to antimetabole, but reversing the grammatical elements rather than just words, for emphasis

clause
a grammatical unit containing both a subject and a verb; an independent, or main, clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence; a dependent, or subordinate, clause cannot and must be accompanied by an independent clause

cliché
an overused, worn-out, hackneyed expression that used to be fresh but is no more

climax
arranging words, clauses, or sentences in the order of their importance, the least forcible coming first and the others rising in power until the last

colloquialism
the use of slang or informalities in speech or writing; give a conversational, familiar tone

complex sentence
contains one or more principal clauses and one or more subordinate clauses

compound sentence
contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinate conjunction (and, but, or) or by a semicolon

compound-complex sentence
contains two or more principal clauses and one or more subordinate clauses

conceit
a surprising analogy or extended metaphor between two unlike things

connotation
the non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning; may involve ideas, emotions, or attitudes

consonance
repetition of a consonant sound within a series of words to produce a harmonious effect

cumulative sentence
sentence that begins with the main idea and adds additional information, usually for description; also called a loose sentence

declarative sentence
a sentence that makes a statement

denotation
the strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color

device
a plan; something used to gain an artistic effect

diction
related to style; refers to the writer’s word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness; combined with syntax, figurative language, literary devices, etc., creates an author’s style

didactic
literally means “teaching”; these works have the primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching or moral or ethical principles

dirge
a funeral hymn; a slow, sad song, poem, or musical composition expressing grief or mourning

elegy
a poem or song of lament and praise for the dead

ellipsis
the omission of a word or words

epanalepsis
opening and closing a sentence with the same word or phrase

epic
a long narrative poem in a dignified style about the deeds of a hero

epigram
a short poem with a witty or satirical point

epistle
a formal letter addressed to a distant person or group of people; carefully-crafted works of literature, intended for a general audience

epitaph
an inscription on a tomb or gravestone in memory of the person buried there; written as a tribute to a dead person

euphemism
polite substitutes for unpleasant words or concepts

euphony
the quality of having a pleasing sound

extended parallelism
the repetition of words or grammatical elements for cumulative force and rhythm

extended metaphor
a metaphor developed throughout a work

fable
a brief story that teaches a lesson or moral

figurative language
many compare dissimilar things

genre
kind or type of literature

homily
a sermon or morally instructive lecture

hyperbole
exaggeration

imagery
anything in a literary work that calls up sensations of sight, taste, smell, touch, heat, pressure

inference/infer
derive by reasoning

invective
a violent verbal attack

sentence inversion
predicate comes before the subject

irony
an implied contrast

juxtaposition
a device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another

language
the entire body of words used in a text

literal
language that employs words in their ordinary meanings

figurative
language that is not literally true but uses words metaphorically

litotes
understatements employed for the purpose of enhancing the effect of the ideas expressed

loose sentence
sentence that begins with the main idea and adds additional information

metaphor
a comparison like a simile but usually implied and without a comparative word such as “like” or “as”

metonymy
the use of the name of one thing for that of another associated with or suggested by it

mock heroic
burlesquing or mocking heroic manner, action, or character

mood
the atmosphere of the literary work; in verbs, an expression of the manner in which the action is done; 3 of these: indicative, which states the action as an actual fact; imperative, stating a command; subjunctive, expressing a wish or a conditional statement

motif
a main theme or subject

myth
a fictional tale that explains the actions of gods or heroes or the causes of natural phenomena

narrative
the telling of any story, or the story itself, the plot

natural order of a sentence
this involves constructing a sentence so the subject comes before the predicate

novel
a fictional prose narrative, usually long enough to be published in a book by itself

onomatopoeia
the use of words that sound like what they mean

oxymoron
a figure of speech in which opposite or contradictory ideas or terms are combined

parable
a brief story, usually with human characters, that teaches a moral lesson

paradox
a statement that seems contradictory, unbelievable, or absurd but that may actually be true in fact

parallelism (1)
grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or parts of a sentence

parallelism (2)
refers to the repeated use of phrases, clauses, or sentences that are similar in structure and meaning

parody
a literary work that makes fun of another work, type of work, or specific author, usually by imitating and exaggerating the qualitis of its subject

pedantic
an unnecessary display of scholarship lacking in judgement or sense of proportion

periodic sentence
sentence that postpones the main idea to the end, adding information at the beginning to build interest or tension

personification
the treatment of an object or an abstract idea as if it were a person

point of view
in fiction, it is the person or intelligence the writer creates to tell the story to the reader

prose
the ordinary form of written or spoken language, without rhyme or meter; speech or writing that is not poetry

prosody
the science or art of versification, including the study of metrical structure, rhyme, stanza forms, etc

pun
play on words that are identical or similar in sound but have sharply diverse meanings

repetition
a device in which words, sounds, and ideas are used more than once to enhance rhythm and create emphasis

rhetoric
the skill of using spoken or written communication effectively; art of guiding the reader or listener to agreement with the writer or speaker

rhetorical modes/forms of discourse
narrative, descriptive, expository, and argumentative

rhetorical question
a question that expects no answer

rhyme scheme
a regular pattern of rhyming words in a poem

sarcasm
a taunting, sneering, cutting, or caustic remark; gibe or jeer

satire
a literary work that ridicules various aspects of human behavior

semantics
teh nature, structure, development and changes of the meanings of speech forms or contextual meaning

sentence structure
how a speaker or author constructs a sentence affects what the audience understands. the inverted order of an interrogative sentence cues the reader or listener to a question that creates a tension between speaker and listener. similarly short sentences are often emphatic or flippant, whereas longer setences suggest the writer’s thoughtful response

shift
a change of feelings by the speaker from the beginning to the end, paying particular attention to the conclusion of the literature (progression)

simile
the comparison of two different things or ideas through the use of the words “like” or “as”

simple sentence
contains one subject and one verb

soliloquy
lines in a drama in which a character reveals his thoughts to the audience, but not to the other characters, by speaking as if to himself

sonnet
a 14-line lyric poem focused on a single theme

split order of a sentence
sentence that divides the predicate into two parts with the subject coming in the middle

stream of consciousness
a narrative technique that presents thoughts as if they were coming directly from a character’s mind

style
a group of different aspects of writing that have to do with the writer’s way of saying something (as opposed to the ideas or content of the text)

syllogism
an argument or form of reasoning in which two statements or premises are made and a logical conclusion drawn from them

symbol/symbolism
a thing or action that is made to mean more than itself

synecdoche
a form of a metaphor; when a part of something is used to signify the whole, the whole represents the part, the container represents the thing being contained, or the material from which an object is made stands for the object itself

synesthetic imagery
detail that moves from the stimulation of one sense to a response by another sense, as a certain odor induces the visualization of a certain color

syntax
sentence structure and word order

theme
what the author is saying bout the subjects in his work

tone
the writer’s or speaker’s attitude toward the subject and the audience

tragedy
a serious play typically dealing with the problems of a central character, leading to an unhappy or disastrous ending brought on, as in ancient drama, by fate and a tragic flaw in this character, or in modern drama, usually by moral weakness, psychological maladjustment, or social pressures

trite
is applied to something, especially an expression or idea which through repeated use or application has lost its original freshness

understatement (meiosis)
the opposite of hyperbole; a kind of irony that deliberately represents something as being much less than it really is

vernacular
using the native language of a country or place; commonly spoken by the people of a country or place

vignette
a short, delicate literary sketch

lyric
a melodic poem that expresses the observations and feelings of a single speaker

romance
a story that presents remote or imaginative incidents rather than ordinary, commonplace experiences

Admiring
to regard with wonder, pleasure, or approval

Afraid
fearful

Alarmed
suddenly frightened

Allusive
having reference to something implied or inferred

Ambivalent
uncertainty or fluctuation between two conflicting or opposite things

Amused
pleasurably entertained

Angry
provoked, irritated, mad

Anxious
greatly worried

Apologetic
sorry; regretful

Argumentative
disputatious

Arrogant
insolently proud

Audacious
recklessly brave

Authoritative
dictatorial

Bantering
to speak to in a playful or teasing way

Benevolent
kind; charitable

Benign
gracious; kind

Biased
showing prejudice

Biting
cutting; sarcastic

Bitter
piercing; stinging; distressful

Boring
dull; tiresome; tedious

Burlesque
mock dignity

Candid
frank or sincere

Cathartic
emotionally purging

Cheerful
in good spirits

Childish
weak; silly; simple

Clinical
objective; realistic

Cold
dispassionate

Colloquial
slang

Comforting
feeling of pleasurable ease and contentment

Comic
funny

Compassionate
sympathizing; pity, tender

Complacent
pleased

Complimentary
praising

Concerned
interested; affected; troubled

Condescending
looking down upon; belittling

Confident
sure; bold

Confused
to perplex

Contemptuous
arrogant; supercilious

Contentious
quarrelsome

Critical
judging with severity

Cruel
harsh

Cynical
distrusting the motives of others

Delirious
wild with excitement and enthusiasm

Depressed
sad and gloomy

Desperate
hopeless

Detached
aloof

Determined
resolute

Didactic
teaching

Diffident
lacking confidence in oneself; timid

Disdainful
scornful

Disbelieving
to refuse or reject belief in

Disgusted
extreme dislike or revulsion

Distressed
to cause strain, anxiety or suffering

Dramatic
starting; sensational

Dreamy
soothing; vague

Ecstatic
joyful or delighted

Effusive
overflowing; gushy

Elegiac
expressing sorrow or lamentation

Excited
stirred to action

Facetious
lacking seriousness; amusing

Factual
real

Fanciful
imaginary; whimsical

Fearful
scared

Flippant
disrespectful; shallow

Forgiving
to excuse; pardon

Formal
methodical; ceremonious

Frivolous
not serious

Giddy
lighthearted; impulsive

Grim
morbid air

Grotesque
bizarre

Happy
delighted; glad

Haughty
proud; arrogant

Hesitant
unsure

hollow
insincere; meaningless

horrific
terrifying

humorous
funny

impartial
unbiased

impassioned
filled with passion and emotion

impious
not religious

incisive
cutting; biting

indignant
infuriated

Informal
colloquial

Inflammatory
angry

Informative
giving information; instructive

Insipid
uninteresting

insolent
boldly disrespectful

Inspiring
to influence; impel

Ironic
contrary to what is expected

Irreverent
disrespectful

Joking
mocking

Joyful
delightful

Joyous
happy

Laudatory
expressing praise

Learned
scholarly

Lighthearted
carefree; cheerful

Lugubrious
mournful to a ludicrous degree

Malicious
evil

Matter-of-fact
direct; unemotional

Melancholy
gloomy

Mock-heroic
imitating that which is heroic

Mock-serious
pretending to be serious

Moralistic
principled; preaching morality

Mournful
sad

Neutral
unbiased

Nostalgic
homesick

objective
scientific and impartial

obsequious
servile deference

Offended
to cause resentment in

Optimistic
positive

Outraged
angry

Outspoken
frank; bold

patronizing
offensively condescending

peaceful
serene; tranquil

peevish
annoying

pedantic
overly concerned with minute details

petty
of little importance

pessimistic
negative

pitiful
pathetic

playful
fun and humorous

pleading
desperate; begging

poignant
strongly moving

preachy
tediously or pretentiously didactic

pretentious
exaggerating importance

proud
arrogant

provocative
belligerent

puzzled
confused

reactionary
opposing progress

regretful
sorrowful

remorseful
feeling pain or sorrow for some sin or offense

respectful
reverent

restrained
holding back

revengeful
a desire to hurt

sad
unhappy

sarcastic
sneering/cutting remarks

sardonic
scornful; mocking

satiric
making fun of something

scornful
extreme contempt

seductive
alluring; tempting

self-pitying
feeling bad for oneself

sentimental
emotional

serious
deeply thoughtful

sharp
harsh

shocking
surprising

silly
childish; goofy

sincere
genuine; frank

solemn
grave; serious

somber
gloomy; dismal

sorrowful
grieving; sad

straightforward
to the point

superior
above others

surprised
sudden astonishment

sweet
kind

sympathetic
compassionate

taunting
making fun of

theatrical
extravagant

threatening
ominous; sinister

tired
exhausted

tolerant
able to endure

tragic
extremely mournful

turgid
excessively ornate and complex

unctuous
excessively pious or moralistic

uncertain
not sure

upset
angry

urbane
sophisticated; refined

urgent
imperative

vexed
irritated; annoyed

vibrant
energetic; lively

vindictive
vengeful

wary
guarded; alert

whining
complaining

wistful
yearning

worshipful
respecting as god-like

whimsical
given to whim; unpredictable

zealous
overly enthusiastic