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AP Lang. Literary Terms
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These words come from Chapter 3 of the Kaplan AP English Language and Composition book.
A narrative in which the characters, behavior, and even the setting demonstrate multiple levels of meaning and significance.
The sequential repetition of a similar initial sound, usually applied to consonants, usually in closely proximate stressed syllables.
A literary, historical, religious, or mythological reference.
The regular repetition of the same words or phrases at the beginning of successive phrases of clauses
The juxtaposition of sharply contrasting ideas in balanced or parallel words, phrases, grammatical structure, or ideas.
A concise statement designed to make a point or illustrate a commonly held belief
An address or invocation to something inanimate
Rhetorical argument in which the speaker claims to be an authority in a field, attempts to play upon the emotions, or appeals to the use of reason
The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds, usually in successive or proximate words
A syntactical structure in which conjunctions are omitted in a series, usually producing more rapid prose
The sense expressed by the tone of voice or the mood of a piece of writing; the author's feelings toward his or her subjcet, characters, events, or theme
An argumentative ploy where the arguer sidesteps the question or the conflict, evades or ignores the real question
That which has been accepted as authentic
A figure of speech and generally a syntactical structure wherein the order of the terms of the first half of a parallel clause is reversed in the second
In argumentation, an assertion of something as fact
A term identifying the diction of the common, ordinary folks, especially in a specific region or area
A mode of discourse in which two or more things are compared, contrasted, or both
A comparison of two unlikely things that is drawn out within a piece of literature, in particular an extended metaphor within a poem
The implied, suggested, or underlying meaning of a word or phrase. it is the opposite of denotation which is the 'dictionary definition' of the word
The repetition of two or more consonants with a change in the intervening vowels
An accepted manner, model, or tradition
An assessment or analysis of something for the purpose of determining what it is, what its limitations are, and how it conforms to the standard of the genre
The method of argument in which specific statements and conclusions are drawn from general principals: movement from the general to the specific
The language and speech idiosyncrasies of a specific area, region, or group
The specific word choice an author uses to persuade or convey tone, purpose, or effect
From the Greek, meaning 'good teaching' writing is this when it has an instructive purpose, or a lesson
A poem or prose work that laments, or meditates upon the death of, a person or persons
In rhetoric, the repetition of a phrase at the end of successive sentences.
Writing in praise of a dead person, most often inscribed upon a headstone
In rhetoric, the appeal of a text to the credibility and character of the speaker, writer, on narrator.
A speech or written passage in praise of a person; an oration in honor of a deceased person.
An indirect, kinder, or less harsh or hurtful way of expressing unpleasant information
The interpretation or analysis of a text
A series of comparisons within a piece of writing. If they are consistently one concept, this is also known as conceit
Has levels of meaning expressed through personification, metaphor, hyperbole, irony, oxymoron, litote, etc.
(Also known as retrospection) An earlier event is inserted into the normal chronology of the narration
A type or class of literature, such as epic, narrative, poetry, biography, history
A sermon, but more contemporary uses include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual life
Overstatement characterized by exaggerated language, usually to make a point or draw attention.
Broadly defined, any sensory detail or evocation in a work; more narrowly, the use of figurative language to evoke a feeling, to call to mind an idea, or to describe an object
The method of reasoning or argument in which general statements and conclusions are drawn from specific principals: movement from the specific to the general
A conclusion or proposition arrived at by considering facts, observations, or some other specific data
The contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant. The intended meaning is often the opposite of what is stated, often suggesting light sarcasm
What the author/narrator says is actually the opposite of what is meant
When events end up the opposite of what is expected
In drama and fiction, facts or situations are known to the reader or audience but not to the characters
Parallel structure in which the parallel elements are similar not only in grammatical structure, but also in length
Specialized or technical language of a trade, profession, or similar group
The location of one thing adjacent to another to create an effect, reveal an attitude, or accomplish some other purpose
A figure of speech that emphasizes its subject by conscious understatement, for instance, the understated 'not bad' as a comment about something especially well done.
A long sentence that starts with its main clause, which is followed by several dependent clauses and modifying phrases
An implicit comparison or identification of one thing with another, without the use of a verbal signal, such as 'like' or 'as'
A figure of speech in which an attribute or commonly associated feature is used to name or designate something
The way in which information is presented in written or spoken form
A feeling or ambience resulting from the tone of a piece as well as the writer/narrator's attitude and point of view
A mode of discourse that tells a story of some sort and it is based on sequences of connected events, usually presented in a straightforward, chronological framework
A word capturing or approximating the sound of what it describes
A figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory elements as in 'wise fool', 'baggy tights', or 'deafening silence'
A statement that seems contradictory but may probably be true
The use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts
That element in literature that stimulates pity or sorrow. In argument or persuasion it tends to be the evocation of pity from the reader/listener
A long sentence in which the main clause is not completed until the end
Treating an abstraction or nonhuman object as if it were a person by endowing it with human features or qualities
The relation in which a narrator/author stands to a subject of discourse
The ordinary form of written language without metrical structure in contrast to verse and poetry
Attempting to describe nature and life without idealization and with attention to detail
An argument technique wherein opposing arguments are anticipated and countered
The art of using words to persuade in writing or speaking
A question that is asked simply for the sake of stylistic effect and is not expected to be answered
A form of verbal irony in which apparent praise is actually critical
A literary work that holds up human failings to ridicule and censure
A direct, explicit comparison of one thing to another, usually using the words 'like' or 'as'
The manner in which a writer combines and arranges words, shapes ideas, and utilizes syntax and structure
Use of a person, place, thing, event, or pattern that figuratively represents or 'stands for' somethin else
A figure of speech in which a part signifies the whole, such as '50 masts' represents 50 ships
The way words are put together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences
The central or dominant idea or focus of a work. The statement a passage makes about its subject
The attitude the narrator/writer takes toward a subject and theme; the tenor of a piece of writing based on particular stylistic devices employed by the writer
The speaker's or narrator's particular take on an idea based on a particular passage and how all the elements of the style of the piece come together to express their feelings
A grammatically correct construction in which a word, usually a verb or adjective, is applied to two or more nouns without being repeated
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