Literary Terms for AP English flashcards | Quizlet
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  • anecdote

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

    allegory

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

    personification

    representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature

    oxymoron

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

    understatement

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

    allusion

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

    tone

    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.

    clause

    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.

    diction

    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.

    aside

    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.

    colloquial

    conversational, informal language

    vernacular

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

    simile

    comparison using "like" or "as"

    foreshadowing

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

    metaphor

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

    antecedent

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

    apostrophe

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

    omnicient

    All-knowing

    anaphora

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

    farce

    a comedy characterized by broad satire and improbable situations

    paradox

    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

    asyndeton

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

    onomatopoeia

    the use of words that imitate sounds

    metonymy

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

    parallelism

    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

    foil

    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

    synesthesia

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

    synecdote

    metaphor - part of something stands for the whole thing

    assonance

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

    hyperbole

    extravagant exaggeration

    pathos

    a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others

    analogy

    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.

    Romantic

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

    inversion

    the act of turning inside out or upside down

    repartee

    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."

    meter

    rhythmic pattern in a poem

    slant rhyme

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

    juxtaposition

    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.

    pastoral

    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

    stanza

    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)

    dialogue

    a conversation between two or more people

    epistrophe

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

    explicit

    precisely and clearly expressed or readily observable

    refrain or chorus

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

    ode

    a poem in praise of an object or person

    ballad

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

    sonnet

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

    elegy

    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'

    malapropism

    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)

    apodictic

    necessarily true, referring to an absolute truth

    polemical

    of or involving dispute or controversy

    lampoon

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

    lyric

    a short poem of songlike quality

    sonnet

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

    consonance

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

    assonance

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

    couplet

    a pair of rhyming lines

    expletive

    an exclamation or oath, often obscene

    lament

    regret strongly

    asyndeton

    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.

    chiastic

    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.

    axiomatic

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

    malapropism

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

    polysyndeton

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

    caesura

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

    enjambment

    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

    anapest

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

    dactyl

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

    iamb

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

    trochee

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

    spondee

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

    pentameter

    a meter involving lines of 5 feet each

    trimeter

    a meter involving lines of 3 feet each

    tetrameter

    a meter involving lines of 4 feet each

    adage

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

    homily

    a sermon on a moral or religious topic

    epigram

    a witty saying

    pedantic

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

    didactic

    instructive (especially excessively)

    anastrophe

    the reversal of the normal order of words

    ambiguity

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

    atmosphere

    The emotional tone or background that surrounds a scene

    caricature

    a representation of a person that is exaggerated for comic effect

    conceit

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

    connotation

    the implied or associative meaning of a word

    denotation

    the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression

    euphemism

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

    invective

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

    litote

    Understatement

    parody

    humorous or satirical mimicry

    pedantic

    tending to show off one's learning

    prose

    ordinary writing as distinguished from verse

    subordinate clause

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

    syntax

    the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences

    transition

    a passage that connects a topic to one that follows

    eponym

    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.

    catharsis

    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.

    volta

    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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