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core terms


Figurative Language language that uses words or expressions with a meaning that is different from the literal interpretation. When a writer uses literal language, he or she is simply stating the facts as they are.
Simile comparison using like or as
Metaphor comparison not using like or as
Assonance the repetition of the sound of a vowel or diphthong in nonrhyming stressed syllables near enough to each other for the echo to be discernible
consonance agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions
oxymoron a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction
alliteration the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.
paradox a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.
idiom a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words
hyperbole exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally
imagery visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work.
euphemism a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
personification the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.
allusion an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.
onomatopoeia the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named
pun a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings
authors structure the way in which the author designs the piece
plot a plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful.
character a person in a novel, play, or movie.
conflict a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one
theme the subject of a talk, a piece of writing, a person's thoughts, or an exhibition; a topic.
setting the place or type of surroundings where something is positioned or where an event takes place.
dialect a particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region or social group.
vernacular the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.
style a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed by the author
syntax the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.
tone the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc.
diction the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing
mood inducing or suggestive of a particular feeling or state of mind
connotative an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.
nuance a subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound.
argument a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.
rhetoric the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.
ethos the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations.
pathos a quality that evokes pity or sadness.
logos principle of divine reason and creative order
parallelism the use of successive verbal constructions in poetry or prose that correspond in grammatical structure, sound, meter, meaning
authors purpose entertain people and make them laugh. Authors also write to persuade or convince their readers to believe in something. Sometimes authors write to inform or teach you about something.
persuade cause (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument.
inform give (someone) facts or information; tell.
entertain provide (someone) with amusement or enjoyment.
explicit stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt
inference a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning.
technical of or relating to a particular subject, art, or craft, or its techniques.
denotative translation of a sign to its meaning, precisely to its literal meaning
central ideas unifying element of the story, which ties together all of the other elements of fiction used by the author to tell the story
objective summary not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
textual evidence core of argument and analysis
point of view the position from which something or someone is observed.
parody an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
satire the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
sarcasm the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
irony the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
understatement the presentation of something as being smaller, worse, or less important than it actually is.
Created by: jaredspid