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English Terms

Page history last edited by Russell 12 years, 4 months ago

Literary Vocabulary


  • Alliteration: Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words.
  • Allusion: Indirect reference to another literary work or a famous person, place, or event.
  • Analogy: Point by point comparison.
  • Antagonist: Usually the principal character in opposition to the protagonist.
  • Assonance: Repition of vowel sounds within nonrhyming words.
  • Ballad: Narrative poem or son that tells a story.
  • Biography: True account of a person's life as told by someone else.
  • Blank Verse: Unrhymed poetry written in iambic pentameter.
  • Climax: Moment when the reader's interest and emotional intensity reach the highest point or when the moment when the crisis reaches its point of greatest intensity and is then resolved.
  • Connotation: Attitudes and feelings associated with a word which go beyond its definition.
  • Couplet: Rhymed pair of lines with the same metrical length.
  • Dialect: Form of language as it is spoken in a particular geographic area or social group.
  • Dialogue: Conversation between two or more characters.
  • Fiction: Prose that have imaginary elements.
  • Foil: Character whose traits provide a striking contrast to another.
  • Foreshadowing: Writers use of hints or clues to indicate events and situations that will occur later in a plot.
  • Free Verse: Poetry with no regular rhyme, pattern or meter.
  • Hyperbole: Figure of speech where truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humor.
  • Idiom: Expression that has meaning different from the meaning of its individual words.
  • Imagery: Descriptive words and phrases that re-create sensory experiences.
  • Irony: A special kind of contrast between appearance and reality--usually one in which reality is the opposite from what it seems.
  • Lyric Poem: Short poem in which a single speaker expresses personal thoughts and feelings.
  • Metaphor: Figure of speech that compares, not using like or as.
  • Mood: Feeling that the writer creates for the reader.
  • Narrative Poem:
  • Characterization - Objective: Objective characterization is how society or other characters view one specific character.
  • Characterization - Subjective: Subjective characterization is how a specific character views him or herself.
  • Conflict - External: External conflict is a struggle between a character and something outside him or herself such as nature, a physical obstacle, or another character.
  • Conflict - Internal: Internal conflict is a struggle that occurs within a character's mind. Perhaps the decision of whether to confess to a crime, even if it means punishment.
  • Irony: Generally speaking, irony occurs when something happens in a play or story that goes against what logic would lead the audience to expect.
  • Irony - Dramatic: Dramatic irony is a discrepancy between what a character knows and what the audience knows. Generally speaking, dramatic irony can be used to cause suspense when the audience has information that a character does not; the audience then waits in anticipation for what the character will do.
  • Irony - Verbal: Verbal irony is a discrepancy between what a character says and what the character means. A simple form is sarcasm.
  • Plot: The sequence of events in a story is called the story‚Äôs plot. The plot is like a blueprint of what happens, when it happens, and to whom it happens. For details and the elements of plot, click here.
  • Setting: The setting includes all aspects of time and place. Any details that give away where and when the events take place can be considered setting, including details of the natural surroundings, weather, buildings, what people wear, etc. Even dialog (how characters speak) can help provide an aspect of the setting, especially if the speech used helps the audience know when a story takes place.
  • Theme: Main idea in a work of literature that unifies or controls the work. It is the author's way of communicating and sharing ideas, perceptions, and feelings. It may be implied or directly stated.
  • Tone: Attitude a writer takes toward a subject. Intended to shape the reader's emotional response and may reflect the writer's feelings.
  • Voice: The writer's unique use of language that allows a reader to "hear" a personality.

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