Literary Terms for AP English flashcards | Quizlet

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  • anecdote

    (n.) a short account of an incident in someone's life


    story, play, or picture in which characters are used as symbols


    representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature


    an expression in which two words that contradict each other are joined: example: jumbo shrimp


    ironic minimalizing of fact; example:; ; World War II was a bit of a downer


    a reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science, or some other branch of culture


    the writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject of a story, toward a character, or toward the audience (the readers). Can be indicative of the type of voice the speaker might use if reading it aloud; examples: sarcastic, snarly, sentimental, amused, etc.


    a group of words with a subject and a verb--as opposed to a phrase which contains only one of the two; example: although I think he's nice.


    word choice

    point of view

    the perspective from which a story is told: examples: first person (I), second person (you), third person (he), third person limited, unreliable first person, etc.


    lines spoken by a character in an undertone or aloud directly to the audience (assumed not to be heard by other characters)

    figures of speech

    expressions, such as similes, metaphors, and personifications, that make imaginative, rather than literal, comparisons or associations.


    conversational, informal language


    the everyday speech of the people (as distinguished from literary language)


    comparison using "like" or "as"


    the use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a plot


    a figure of speech comparing two unlike things without using like or as


    the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers


    a technique by which a writer addresses an inanimate object, an idea, or a person who is either dead or absent.




    the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of consecutive lines or sentences


    a comedy characterized by broad satire and improbable situations


    an apparently contradictory statement that actually contains some truth

    compound sentence

    a sentence composed of at least two coordinate independent clauses (You'll know them because they are joined by a FANBOYS conjunction or a semicolon.)

    complex sentence

    a sentence with one independent clause and at least one dependent clause

    periodic sentence

    a complex sentence in which the main clause comes last and is preceded by the subordinate clause


    a construction in which elements are presented in a series without conjunctions


    the use of words that imitate sounds


    substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in 'they counted heads')


    the repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures

    flat character

    a character with only one or two clear traits

    dynamic character

    a character who undergoes change during the story

    stock character

    character found again and again in different literary works


    A character who is in most ways opposite to the main character (protagonist) or one who is nearly the same as the protagonist. The purpose of the foil character is to emphasize the traits of the main character by contrast only


    describing one kind of sensation in terms of another ("a loud color", "a sweet sound")


    metaphor - part of something stands for the whole thing


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


    extravagant exaggeration


    a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others


    drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect. Tends to be more fully developed than metaphor, with a list of similarities between the two things compared.


    belonging to or characteristic of romanticism or the Romantic movement in the arts. Often used to suggest a character is overly emotional and impractical.


    the act of turning inside out or upside down


    a quick, witty reply

    direct object

    the object that receives the direct action of the verb. Example: "ball" in the sentence "I threw the ball."

    indirect object

    the object that is the recipient or beneficiary of the action of the verb. Example: "Nate" in the sentence "I threw the ball to Nate."


    rhythmic pattern in a poem

    slant rhyme

    Words that almost rhyme, like
    "away" and "Calgary"


    the act of placing two things next to each other for implicit comparison

    mixed metaphor

    a combination of two or more metaphors that together produce a ridiculous effect

    dramatic irony

    when a reader is aware of something that a character isn't

    situational irony

    when what is expected to happen is different from what happens. Example: It rains on your wedding day.

    verbal irony

    A figure of speech in which what is said is the opposite of what is meant. Example: Smooth move, Erkle.


    a work idealizing the rural life (especially the life of shepherds)

    masculine rhyme

    final syllable of first word rhymes with final syllable of second word (scald recalled)

    feminine rhyme

    latter two syllables of first word rhyme with latter two syllables of second word (ceiling appealing)

    internal rhyme

    a rhyme between words in the same line


    a group of lines in a poem

    direct address

    when speaker directly addresses another person, whose name is set off by commas

    internal monologue

    thinking inside one's head, records the internal, emotional experience of the character (we call this "soliloquy" in theater)


    a conversation between two or more people


    Repetition of the same word or group of words at the ends of successive clauses


    precisely and clearly expressed or readily observable

    refrain or chorus

    a regularly repeated line or group of lines in a poem or song


    a poem in praise of an object or person


    a type of poem that is meant to be sung and is both lyric and narrative in nature


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


    a mournful poem

    free indirect style

    third-person narration - character's thoughts/expressions are presented in character's voice without having quotation marks or 'he thought'


    the mistaken substitution of one word for another word that sounds similar ("The doctor wrote a subscription.")

    cumulative sentence

    a sentence in which the main independent clause is elaborated by the successive addition of modifying clauses or phrases (main clause is at the beginning)


    necessarily true, referring to an absolute truth


    of or involving dispute or controversy


    a composition that imitates somebody's style in a humorous way


    a short poem of songlike quality


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


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


    repition of internal vowel sounds in near by words thet do not end the same; asleeeeep treeeee


    a pair of rhyming lines


    an exclamation or oath, often obscene


    regret strongly


    Commas used (with no conjunction) to separate a series of words, speeds up flow of sentence. X, Y, Z as opposed to X, Y, and Z.


    A literary structure, wherein a patter (ABC...) is repeated, often inversely (...CBA), as a means of showing both the symmetry of a unit and its emphasis--the pivotal fulcrum as its central turning point.


    (adj.) self-evident, expressing a universally accepted principle or rule


    the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one that sounds similar


    using several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted (as in 'he ran and jumped and laughed for joy')


    a break or pause (usually for sense) in the middle of a verse line


    the continuation of meaning, without pause or break, from one line of poetry to the next

    run-on sentence

    two or more sentences joined without adequate punctuation or connecting words


    a metrical foot with unstressed-unstressed-stressed syllables; examples--very good; unabridged


    a metrical foot with stressed-unstressed-unstressed syllables; examples--fluttering, butterfly


    a metrical foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable; examples--I think that I shall never see


    A metrical food consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed; examples--trochees trip from long to short


    A metrical foot represented by two stressed syllables such as knick-knack, hot dog, or hodge-podge


    a meter involving lines of 5 feet each


    a meter involving lines of 3 feet each


    a meter involving lines of 4 feet each


    a condensed but memorable saying embodying some important fact of experience that is taken as true by many people


    a sermon on a moral or religious topic


    a witty saying


    marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspects


    instructive (especially excessively)


    the reversal of the normal order of words


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


    The emotional tone or background that surrounds a scene


    a representation of a person that is exaggerated for comic effect


    a fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects


    the implied or associative meaning of a word


    the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression


    a mild, indirect, or vague term substituting for a harsh, blunt, or offensive term


    abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will




    humorous or satirical mimicry


    tending to show off one's learning


    ordinary writing as distinguished from verse

    subordinate clause

    created by a subordinating conjunction, a clause that modifies an independent clause


    the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences


    a passage that connects a topic to one that follows


    An eponym is a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named.[1] For example, Léon Theremin is the eponym of the theremin. A synonym of "eponym" is namegiver. One who is referred to as eponymous is someone who is the eponym of something, for example, "Léon Theremin, the eponymous inventor of the theremin".

    Aristotelian Tragedy

    The major characters in a tragedy are not average. They are heroes, kings, and gods.
    The conditions of a protagonist(s) life goes from good to bad.
    A "tragic flaw" in the protagonist brings about his (or her) downfall.
    The fate of many people is tied to the protagonist, so his or her downfall is a catastrophic event.
    The purpose of a tragedy is catharsis, which cleans the soul of "fear and pity" that most people carry within themselves.

    Aristotelian comedy

    The major characters in a comedy are average people.
    The conditions of a protagonist(s) life goes from bad to good.


    a release of emotional tension

    Elizabethan conceit

    An extended metaphor, often used in Elizabethan poetry

    Incremental repetition

    a device used in poetry of the oral tradition, especially English and Scottish ballads, in which a line is repeated in a changed context or with minor changes in the repeated part.


    the turn, is the shift or point of dramatic change. The term is most frequently used in discussion of sonnet form, in which the volta marks a shift in thought (often from question to answer or problem to solution). It is most frequently encountered at the end of the octave (first eight lines in Petrarchan or Spenserian sonnets), or the end of the twelfth line in Shakespearean sonnets.

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