Literary Terms 1-77

Ad hominem argument
From the Latin meaning “to or against the man,” this is an argument that appeals to emotion rather than reason, to feeling rather than intellect.
Allegory
The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning.
Alliteration
The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words ( as in ” she sells sea shells”).
Allusion
A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art.
Ambiguity
The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.
Analogy
A similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them.
Antecedent
The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun. The AP language exam occasionally asks for the _______ of a given pronoun in a long, complex sentence or in a group of sentences.
Aphorism
A terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or moral principle. (If the authorship is unknown, the statement is generally considered to be a folk proverb.)
Apostrophe
A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. The effect may add familiarity or emotional intensity.
Atmosphere
The emotional mood created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author’s choice of objects that are described.
Clause
~ independent
~ dependent
A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb.
~ expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence.
~ cannot stand alone as a sentence and must be accompanied by an independent clause.
Colloquial/Colloquialism
The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing. Not generally acceptable for formal writing.
Conceit
A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects.
Connotation
The nonliteral, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning.
Denotation
The strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color.
Diction
Related to style, refers to the writer’s word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.
Didactic
From the Greek, literally means, “teaching.” Primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.
Euphemism
From the Greek for “good speech,” are a more agreeable or less offensive substitute for generally unpleasant words or concepts.
Extended Metaphor
developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work.
Figurative language
Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative and vivid.
Figure of speech
is where a word or words are used to create an effect, often where they do not have their original or literal meaning.
where the word is used to heighten or increase the state that they are describing
Many compare dissimilar things. Include, for example, apostrophe, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, metonymy, oxymoron. Paradox, personification, simile, synecdoche, and understatement.
Generic conventions
This term describes traditions for each genre. Helps to define each genre; for example, they differentiate between an essay and journalistic writing or an autobiography and political writing.
Genre
The major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry, and drama.
Homily
This term literally means “sermon,” but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual device.
Hyperbole
A figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. Often have a comic effect; however, a serious effect is also possible. Often produces irony at the same time.
Imagery
The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions.
Inference/infer
To draw reasonable conclusions from the information presented.
Invective
An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.
Irony/ironic

a)verbal irony

b) Situational Irony

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c) Dramatic irony

The contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant; the difference between what appears to be and what actually is true.

a)the words literally state the opposite of the writer’s (or speaker’s) true meaning.

b) events turn out the opposite of what was expected. What the characters and readers think ought to happen is not what does happen.

c)facts or events are unknown to a character on a play or piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or other characters in the work.

loose sentence
A type of sentence where the main idea comes first, followed by dependent grammatical units such as phrases and clauses.
metaphor
a figure of speech using implied comparison of seemingly unlike things or the substitution of one for another, suggesting similarity.
metonymy
figure of speech where the name of an object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it
mood
The prevailing atmosphere of emotional aura of a work

indicative ______= used only for factual sentences

subjunctive _____ = used for doubtful or conditional attitude

imperative ______ = used for commands

narrative
the telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events
onomatopoeia
figure of speech where natural sounds are imitated in sounds of words
oxymoron
figure of speech where the author groups apparently contradictory terms to suggest an paradox
paradox
statement that appears to be self contradictory or opposed to common sense
parallelism
gramatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity
parody
a work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of a comic effect or ridicule
pedantic
an adjective that describes words, phrases or general tone that is overly scholar;y, academic, or bookish
periodic sentence
a sentence that presents its central meaning in a main clause at the end. proceeded by by a phrase or clause that cannot stand alone.
personification
a figure of speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects by endowing them with human attributes or emotions
point of view
a) first-person narrator = tells the story with the first person pronoun, “I” and is a character

b) third person narrator = relates the events with third person pronouns, “he,she,it”

predicate adjectives
one type of subject complement- an adjective, group of adjectives, or adjective clause that follows a linking verb. modifies/ describes the subject
predicate nominative
sub complement- noun, group of nouns, or noun clause that re names the subject. follows a linking verb
prose
major division of genre, refers to fiction and non fiction including all its forms
repetition
the duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as sound, word phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.
rhetoric
describes the principles governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently, and persuasively.
rhetorical modes
Describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of writing.

a) exposition (or expository writing) is to explain and analyze information by presenting an idea, relevant evidence, and appropriate discussion

b)argumentation is to prove the validity of an idea, or point of view, by presenting sound reasoning, discussion, and argument that thoroughly convince the reader. Persuasive writing is a type of argumentation having the additional aim of urging some form of action.

c)description is to re-create, invent, or visually present a person, place, vent, or action so that the reader can picture that being described. Sometimes an author engages all five senses in description; good descriptive writing can be sensuous and picturesque

d)narration is to tell a story or narrate an event or series of events. This writing mode frequently uses the tools of descriptive writing.

rhetorical question
a question that is asked merely for its effect and does not requite a reply
sarcasm
involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something
satire
a work that targets human vices and follies, or social institutions and conventions, for reform or ridicule.
Simile
An explicit comparison, normally using like, as, or if.
Style
Has 2 purposes:

1. An evaluation of the sum of the choices an author makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices.

2. Classification of authors to a group and comparison of an author to similar authors

Subject compliment
The word (with any accompanying phrases) or clause that follows a linking verb and complements, or completes, the subject of the sentence by either (1) renaming it or (2) describing it.
Subordinate clause
Like all clauses, this word group contains both a subject and a verb (plus any accompanying phrases or modifiers), but unlike the independent clause, the ________ clause cannot stand alone; it does not express a complete thought. Also called a dependent clause, the ________ clause depends on a main clause, to complete its meaning. Easily recognized key words and phrases usually being these clauses – for example: although, because, unless, if, even though, since, as soon as, while, who, when, where, how, and that.
Syllogism
From the Greek from “reckoning together,” a ________is a deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises – the first one called “major” and the second “minor” – that inevitable lead to a sound of conclusion.

A _______ conclusion is valid only if each of the two premises is valid.

Symbol/symbolism
Generally, anything that represents or stands for something else.

One system classifies ______ in three categories.
1. Natural _______ use objects and occurrences from nature to represent ideas commonly associated with them

2. Conventional _________ are those that have been invested with meaning by a group

3. Literary _______ are sometimes also conventional in the sense that they are found in a variety of works and are generally recognized.

Syntax
The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences.
Theme
The central idea or message of the work, the insight it offers into life.
Thesis
In expository writing, the ____ statement is the sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author’s opinion, purpose, meaning, or proposition.
Tone
Similar to mood, ____ descries the author’s attitude toward his or her material, the audience, or both
Transition
A word or phrase that links different ideas. Used especially, although not exclusively, in expository and argumentative writing,_____ effectively signal a shift from one idea to another.
Understatement
The ironic minimalizing of fact, understatement presents something as less significant than it is. The effect can frequently be humorous and emphatic. The opposite of hyperbole.
Wit
An intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights. A ___ty statement is humorous, while suggesting the speaker’s verbal power in creating ingenious and perceptive marks. It usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement
Concrete detail
Strictly defined, refers to nouns that name physical objects.
Descriptive detail
When an essay uses this phrase, look for the writer’s sensory description. Appealing to the visual sense is usually the most predominant, but don’t overlook other sensory detail.
Devices
The figures of speech, syntax, diction, and other stylistic elements that collectively produce a particular artistic effect.
Language
When you’re asked to “analyze the _____,” concentrate on how the elements of ______ combine to form a whole— how diction, syntax, figurative language, and sentence structure create a cumulative effect.
Narrative devices
This term describes the tools of the storyteller (also used in nonfiction), such as ordering events so that they build to a climactic moment or withholding information until a crucial or appropriate moment when revealing it creates a desired effect
Narrative technique
The style of telling the “story,” even if the passage is nonfiction. Concentrate on the order of events and on their detail in evaluating a writer’s technique
Persuasive devices
When asked to analyze an author’s _________, look for the words in the passage that have strong connotations— words that intensify the emotional effect. In addition, analyze how these words complement the writer’s argument as it builds logically.
Persuasive essay
When asked to write a _________, you should present a coherent argument in which the evidence builds to a logical and relevant conclusion
Resources of language
This phrase refers to all the devices of composition available to a writer, such as diction, syntax, sentence structure, and figures of speech
Rhetorical features
This phrase refers to how a phrase is constructed. If asked to consider rhetorical structure, look at the passage’s organization and how the writer combines images, details, or arguments to serve his or her purpose.
Sentence structure
When an essay question asks you to analyze ____________, look at the type of sentences the author uses. Remember that the basic __________s are simple, compound, and complex, and variations created with sentence combining. Also consider variation or lack of it in sentence length, any unusual devices in sentence construction, such as repetition or inverted word order, and any unusual word or phrase placement.
Stylistic devices
An essay that mentions ________ is asking you to note and analyze all of the elements in language that contribute to style— such as diction, syntax, tone, attitude, figures of speech, connotations, and repetition.

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