This site is 100% ad supported. Please add an exception to adblock for this site.

Glossory of Lit Terms

Terms

undefined, object
copy deck
FOIL
A character who by contrast, points up the qualities or characteristics of another character.
EPITHET
An adjective or other term used to characterize a person or thing.
IAMB
A foot of verse consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
ONOMATOPOEIA
The use of words whose sounds seem to express or reinforce their meanings.
DYNAMIC CHARACTER
A character, often the protagonist, that changes and grows through the course of action in a literary work.
HUBRIS
Greek: "pride." The emotion in a tragic hero which leads him to ignore warnings from the gods or to transgress against their moral codes.
PASTORAL
Literature that concerns country life.
TETRAMETER
A line of four metrical feet
PATHOS
The quality in a work of literature which evokes from the reader feelings of pity, tenderness, and sympathy.
SHAKESPEAREAN SONNET
A poem of 14 lines in iambic pentameter, divided into three quatrains and one couplet. The rhyme scheme is: abab cdcd efef gg.
METONYMY
A figure of speech in which a word of phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely related (Ex. The territory of the crown "crown" replases monarch
FOOT
A group of syllables forming a metrical unit.
FOUR LEVELS OF MEANING
Literal or historical, moral, allegorical, and anagogical (spiritual or mystical meaning stating an eternal truth).
ANAPHORA
A device of repetition in which the same word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of two or more lines. (Ex. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields... - W. Churchill)
SESTET
A poem or stanza of six lines.
VERSIMILITUDE
The quality of literature that seems to be sufficiently probable and "real" to the reader.
OCTAVE
An eight-line poem or stanza
CHIASMUS
The repetition of grammatical structures in inverted order (Ex. It is boring to eat; to sleep is fulfilling. Structure: present participle + infinitive; infinitive + present participle).
METER
The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
HAMARTIA
The error, misstep, frailty, or flaw that causes the downfall of a tragic hero.
ENJAMBMENT
The running over of the sense and grammatical structure from one verse line or couplet to the next without a punctuated pause. A run-on line as opposed to an end-stopped line.
INTERNAL RHYME
Occurs within a single verse or line.
ANTI-HERO
A type of hero lacking the traditional heroic qualities, frequently a pathetic, comic, or even antisocial figure.
CONCEIT
An analogy or metaphor suggesting a sticking parallel between ostensibly dissimilar things.
HYPERBOLE
A figure of speech in which emphasis is achieved through deliberate exaggeration.
ZEUGMA
A figure of speech by which one word refers to two others in the same sentence. Literally a "yoking," zeugma may be achieved by a verb or preposition with two objects as in the following: "Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss."
CONSONANCE
The close repetition of identical consonant sounds before and after different vowels.
PARALLELISM
The arrangement of equally important ideas in similar grammatical constructions (such as the same opening words).
VERNACULAR
Everyday spoken language of the people in a particular locality or time period. Dialect.
SURREALISM
A movement in literature and painting which attempts to express the working of the unconscious.
FREE VERSE
Verse lacking meter and rhyme, relying upon the natural speech rhythms of the language.
EPISTROPHE
The repetition of the same word or group of words at the end of successive clauses (Ex. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson)
APOSTROPHE
A figure of speech in which a person not present or a personified abstraction is addressed.
LITOTES
A figure of speech by which an affirmation is made indirectly by denying its opposite, usually with an understatement. Ex. No mean feat; not averse to a drink; not seldom
ELEGY
A solemn, reflective poem, often about death, written in a formal style.
DIDACTIC
When the primary aim of a work of literature is to expound some moral, political, or other teaching.
WILLING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF
The ability of a reader to believe in a literary world or character due to the inclusion of likely details.
NOVELLA
A brief prose tale. A short novel.
ANACHRONISM
Something or someone that is not correct in historical or chronological time. An error in chronology.
BLACK/ DARK HUMOR
Writing in which the grotesque or horrifying elements are sharply juxtaposed with humorous or farcical ones.
CHORUS
Originally a group of masked male dancers who sang or chanted as part of ceremonies or religious festivals. The chorus often takes the part of commentator in drama, and often takes place in the action of a play.
LYRIC
A poem of limited length expressing the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker.
OXYMORON
A figure of speech consisting generally of two apparently contradictory terms that express a startling paradox.
TERZA RIMA
A rhyme scheme invented by Dante in which a stanza contains three lines. The first and the third lines rhyme, but the second line rhymes with the first and third line of the next stanza.
DENOUEMENT
The events that follow the major climax of a plot; the resolution of a work wherein the loose ends of a story are woven together.
SYNECDOCHE
A figure of speech in which a part represents the whole. EX. "The law" for a police officer
INVERSION
The placing of a sentence element out of its normal position. Often it is the adjective that is placed after the noun.
CATHARSIS
The feeling of relief within a reader or audience, when witnessing tragic events in the life of a literary character.
ODE
A lyric poem of some length, serious in subject and dignified in style.
ANTITHESIS
A rhetorical figure in which sharply opposing ideas are expressed within a balanced grammatical structure.
HEROIC COUPLET
A rhymed pair of iambic pentameter lines.
QUATRAIN
A four-line poem or stanza.
PARADOX
A statement which appears contradictory but contains a basic of truth.
EXPOSITION
That part of a play in which the audience is given the background information which it needs to know. Usually the first act.
PERIODIC/LOOSE SENTENCE
A sentence not grammatically complete before its end; the opposite of a loose sentence. A Periodic sentence is accomplished by using clauses, or parallel phrases at the opening followed by the independent clause.
THEATER OF THE ABSURD
Experimental theater movement after WWII that has no coherent plots, no beginning or end, no realistic setting, no consistency in characters. It suggests that man is "out of harmony" with the universe. EX. Waiting for Godot and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
PETRARCHAN SONNET
(ITALIAN) A sonnet divided into an octave with the rhyme pattern abbabba and a sestet which offers a solution (Also called the Italian sonnet.)
VOICE
The sense that a written work conveys to a reader of its writer's attitude, personality, and character.
ASIDE
In theater, a short passage spoken in an undertone, usually directed to the audience. By convention, the aside is presumed to be inaudible to the other characters on stage, and most importantly, presumed to be true.
ALLUSION
A reference, usually brief to a presumably familiar person or thing.
EPIPHANY
A sudden awareness or realization of a truth or the significance of an object or action. An awakening.
ASSONANCE
The close repetition of similar vowel sounds, usually in stressed syllables.
COUPLET
Two successive lines of verse, usually rhymed and of the same meter.
AMBIGUITY
The deliberate use of a word or expression to express two or more distinct references, diverse attitudes, or feelings.
ALLEGORY
An extended narrative that carries a second meaning along with the surface story; an extended metaphor in narrative form.
BLANK VERSE
Unrhymed iambic pentameter verse.
TERCET
A poem or stanza of three lines.

Deck Info

67

permalink