Literary Terms – Sound Devices and Rhythm & Rhyme

sound devices
stylistic techniques that convey meaning through sound

alliteration
The repetition of initial consonant sounds, such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”

assonance
the repetition of similar vowels in the stressed syllables of successive words

consonance
the repetition of consonants (or consonant patterns) especially at the ends of words

onomatopoeia
a figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words. Simple examples include such words as buzz, hiss, hum.

repetition
repeated use of sounds, words, or ideas for effect and emphasis

exact rhyme
perfect rhyme, such as buzz and fuzz

slant rhyme
rhyme in which the vowel sounds are nearly, but not exactly the same (i.e. the words “stress” and “kiss”); sometimes called half-rhyme, near rhyme, or partial rhyme

couplet
a pair of rhyming lines

quatrain
a four-line stanza

cinquain
a five line stanza

octave
a rhythmic group of eight lines of verse

sestet
a rhythmic group of six lines of verse

stanza
a group of lines in a poem or song that constitute a division; a verse

meter
a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry

foot
a group of 2 or 3 syllables forming the basic unit of poetic rhythm

iamb
a metrical foot in poetry that has an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable

pentameter
a verse line having five metrical feet

iambic pentameter
a common meter in poetry consisting of an unrhymed line with five feet or accents, each foot containing an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable

heroic couplet
two lines of rhyming iambic pentameter, two consecutive lines of rhymed verse written in iambic pentameter

rhyme
be similar in sound, especially with respect to the last syllable

rhyme scheme
the pattern of end rhymes in a poem

internal rhyme
rhyme that occurs within a line of poetry

end rhyme
Rhyme that occurs at the end of two or more lines of poetry

scansion
The process of measuring the stresses in a line of verse in order to determine the metrical pattern of the line.

scanning
the analysis of a poem to determine its meter

sonnet
a verse form consisting of 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme

Shakespearean sonnet
a sonnet consisting three quatrains and a concluding couplet in iambic pentameter with the rhyme pattern abab cdcd efef gg (same as English sonnet)

English sonnet
a sonnet consisting three quatrains and a concluding couplet in iambic pentameter with the rhyme pattern abab cdcd efef gg (same as Shakespearean sonnet)

Petrarchan sonnet
a sonnet consisting of an octave with the rhyme pattern abbaabba, followed by a sestet with the rhyme pattern cdecde or cdcdcd (same as Italian sonnet)

Italian sonnet
a sonnet consisting of an octave with the rhyme pattern abbaabba, followed by a sestet with the rhyme pattern cdecde or cdcdcd (same as Petrarchan sonnet)

elision
The omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable to preserve the meter of a line of poetry. (example: “Flies o’er th’ unbending corn….”)

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