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AP Language Terms

AP Language and Composition Terms

Alliteration The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words
Allusion A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known. May be drawn from history, geography, literature, or religion.
Ambiguity The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, or a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.
Analogy A similarity or comparison between two things or the relationship between them
Antecedent The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun
Antithesis The opposition or contrast of ideas; the direct opposite
Aphorism A statement (of known authorship) which expresses a general truth or a moral principle
Apostrophe A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love
Atmosphere The emotional nod created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author's choice or objects that are described
Caricature A verbal description, the purpose of which is to exaggerate or distort, for comic effect, a person's features
Clause A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb
Colloquial The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing
Conceit A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects
Connotation The non-literal, associative meaning of a word
Denotation The strict, literal definition of a word
Diction Related to style, diction refers to the writer's word choices
Didactic Intended or inclined to teach, preach, or instruct, often excessively.
Euphemism More agreeable/less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept
Extended Metaphor A metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work
Figurative Language Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative and vivid
Figure of Speech A device used to produce figurative language (Apostrophe, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, oxymoron, paradox, personification, simile, synedoche, understatement)
Generic Conventions Describes traditions for each genre; help define each genre
Genre The major category into which a literary work fits. Basic divisions: prose, poetry, drama
Homily "Sermon"; In can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice
Hyperbole A figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement
Imagery The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions
Inference To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented
Invective An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language
Verbal Irony When words literally state to opposite of the writer's meaning
Situational Irony When events turn out the opposite of what was expected
Dramatic Irony When facts or events are unknown to a character but known to the audience or other characters
Litotes A form of understatement that involves making an affirmative point by denying its opposite
Metaphor A figure of speech using implies comparison of seemingly unlike things; or the substitution of one for the other
Metonymy A figure of speech in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it
Mood The prevailing atmosphere or emotional aura or a work
Narrative The telling of a story or an account or an event
Onomatopoeia Buzz, howl
Oxymoron Jumbo shrimp, holy war
Paradox A statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth
Parallelism Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses. Also called parallel structure.
Anaphora A sub-type of parallelism, when the exact repetition or words or phrases at the beginning or successive lines or sentences (I Have a Dream Speech)
Parody Weird Al
Pedantic An adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic, or bookish
Personification A figure or speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects by endowing them with human attributes or emotions
Point of View The perspective from which a story is told
Prose One of the major divisions of genre, refers to fiction and nonfiction
Repetition The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language
Rhetoric Describes the principles governing the art of writing effectively, eloquently, and persuasively
Rhetorical Modes Describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of writing: exposition, argumentation, description, narration
Exposition To explain and analyze information by presenting an idea, relevant evidence, and appropriate discussion
Argumentation To prove the validity of an idea, or point of view, by presenting sound reasoning, discussion, and argument that thoroughly convince the reader
Description To recreate, invent, or visually present a person, place, event or action so that the reader can picture that being described
Narration To tell a story or narrate an event or series of events
Sarcasm Involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something; may use irony
Satire A work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform or ridicule
Semantics The branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of words, their historical and psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another
Style An evaluation of the sum of the choices an author makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices
Subject Compliment The word or clause that follows a linking verb and complements, or completes, the subject of the sentence
Syllogism A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion
Symbolism Anything (usually something concrete such as an object, action, character, or scene) that represents itself and also stands for something more abstract
Synecdoche A figure of speech in which a part is used to represent the whole, or the whole for a part.
Synesthesia When one kind of sensory stimulus evokes the subjective experience of another
Syntax The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences
Theme The central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life
Thesis The sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author’s opinion, purpose, meaning, or position
Tone The author’s attitude toward his material, the audience, or both
Transition A word or phrase that links different idea
Understatement Presents something as less significant than it is
Wit Intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights
Allegory The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning.
Created by: kctwirler1