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Literary Terms

Literary Term Definitions

TermDefinition
HYPERBOLE AN EXAGERATION TO MAKE A POINT "I am so hungry I could eat a horse"
CLICHE' AN OFTEN REPEATED OR USED PHRASE OR STATEMENT THAT HAS BEEN USED SO MUCH THAT IT HAS BECOME MEANINGLESS. "walk a mile in another's shoes"
PUN A JOKE MAKING A PLAY ON WORDS "Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses"
ALLUSION A STATEMENT THAT HINTS AT SOMETHING RATHER THAN BEING DIRECT. "Boy you look tired; have you been getting enough sleep" Rather than telling someone they look old due to the lines under their eyes.
FORESHADOWING A LITERARY DEVICE USED BY AUTHORS TO CREATE SUSPENSE "a character complains of a headache which we later finds out has a brain tumor"
INVERSION A REVERSAL OF THE NORMAL ORDER OF WORDS "instead of "HE SAID" the author might say "SAID HE".
SIMILE A FIGURE OF SPEECH WHERE 2 UNLIKE THINGS ARE COMPARED GENERALLY USING THE WORDS "like" or "as".
ALLITERATION A GRAMMATICAL TERM USING 2 or MORE WORDS IN A ROW STARTING WITH THE SAME SOUNDS. "winds whipping wildly put the man in a trance"
ASSONANCE REPEATING THE SAME VOWEL SOUNDS IN WORDS CLOSE TO EACH OTHER. "True, I do love Sue" USED OFTERN IN POETRY
PERSONIFICATION GIVING HUMAN CHARACTERISTICS TO NON LIVINGS OR IDEAS. "The sun smiling on a field of flowers"
FLASHBACK WHEN A PAST EXPERIENCE IS REMEMBERED. "When George discusses how he caused Lennie to jump in the creek and almost drown" (From "Of Mice & Men")
METAPHOR TO COMPARE 2 UNLIKE OBJECTS, IDEAS, FEELINGS OR THOUGHTS TO PROVIDE CLEARED UNDERSTANDING. "calling the dependable parent a rock"
PARADOX SOMETHING THAT SEEMS SO UNBELEIVABLE BUT MAY BE TRUE. "What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young". -G.B. Shaw or "Going to war to bring about peace".
OXYMORON A COMBINATION OF CONTRACDICTORY WORDS. "Jumbo shrimp", "a definite maybe" or "It hurts so good".
IMAGERY PICTURES CREATED BY THE MIND OR FROM MEMORY or EXPLAINED MENTAL PICTURES.
ANTAGONIST A major character who opposes the main character in a story or play.
ATMOSPHERE The overall feeling of a work related to tone and mood
ALLEGORY A story in which the characters represent abstract qualities or ideas.
CHARACTERIZATION The means by which an author describes the appearance and personality of a person in a story of play.
EPIC A long poem narrating the adventures of a heroic figure.
FABLE A story that illustrates a moral, often using animals as characters.
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE Language that does not mean exactly what it says.
MONOLOGUE A long speech by one character in a play or story that everyone is suppose to hear.
MYTH A legend that embodies the beliefs of people and offers some explanation for natural and social phenomena
OXYMORON A phrase made up of two seemingly opposite words.
PROTAGONIST The main character of a novel, play, or story.
PLOT The action of the story that summarizes the plan of the main story.
RHETORICAL QUESTION A question not meant to be answered.
Created by: Ronchima