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AP Lit Mark

AP literary terms for AP lit exam

QuestionAnswer
Allegory story or poem in which characters, settings and events stand for other people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities
Alliteration repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are close together
Allusion reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. AN indirect reference to something
Ambiguity deliberately suggesting two or more different, and sometimes conflicting, meanings in a work. An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way - this is done on purpose by the author, when it is not done on purpose, it is vagueness.
Analogy Comparison made between two things to show how they are alike
Anaphora Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row.
Anastrophe Inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a sentence. Purpose is a rhythm or emphasis or euphony. It is a fancy word for inversion.
Anecdote Brief story, told to illustrate a point or serve as an example of something, often shows character of an individual
Antagonist Opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or protagonist, in a story.
Antimetabole Repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order.
Antithesis Balancing words, phrases, or ideas that are strongly contrasted, often by means of grammatical structure.
Antihero Central character who lacks all the qualities traditionally associated with heroes, may lack courage, grace, intelligence, or moral scruples.
Anthropomorphism Attributing human characteristics to an animal or inanimate object
Aphorism Brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life, or of a principle or accepted general truth.
Apostrophe Calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person, or to a place or thing, or a personified abstract idea.
Apposition Placing in immediately succeeding order of two or more coordinate elements, the latter of which is an explanation, qualification, or modification of the first.
Assonance The repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different consonant sounds especially in words that are together.
Asyndeton Commas used without conjunction to separate a series of words, thus emphasizing the parts equally.
Balance Constructing a sentence so that both halves are about the same length and importance. Sentences can be unbalanced to serve a special effect as well.
Characterization The process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character.
(Indirect) Characterization The author reveals to the reader what the character is like by describing how the character looks and dresses, by letting the reader hear what the character says, by revealing the character's private thoughts and feelings, etc
(Direct) Characterization The author tells us directly what the character is like: sneaky, generous, mean to pets and so on. Romantic style literature relied more heavily on this form.
(Static) Character One who does not change much in the course of a story.
(Dynamic) Character One who changes in some important way as a result of the story's action.
(Flat) Character Has only one or two personality traits. They are one dimensional, like a piece of cardboard. They can be summed up in one phrase.
(Round) Character Has more dimensions to their personalities -- they are complex, just a real people are.
Chiasmus In poetry, a type of rhetorical balance in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the first, but with the parts reversed.
Cliche A word or phrase, often a figure of speech, that has become lifeless because of overuse. Avoid cliches like the plague.
Colloquialism A word or phrase in everyday use in conversation and informal writing but is inappropriate for formal situations.
Comedy In general, a story that ends with a happy resolution of the conflicts faced by the main character or characters.
Conceit An elaborate metaphor that compares two things that are startlingly different. Often an extended metaphor.
Confessional Poetry A twentieth century term used to describe poetry that uses intimate material from the poet's life.
Conflict The struggle between opposing forces or characters in a story.
(External) Conflict Conflicts can exist between two people, between a person and nature, or a machine or between a person and a whole society.
(Internal) Conflict) A conflict can be internal, involving opposing forces within a person's mind.
Connotation The associations and emotional overtones that have become attached to a word or phrase, in addition to its strict dictionary definition.
Couplet Two consecutive rhyming lines of poetry.
Dialect A way of speaking that is characteristic of a certain social group or of the inhabitants of a certain geographical area.
Diction A speaker or writer's choice of words.
Didacting Form of fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.
Elegy A poem of mourning, usually about someone who has died. A Eulogy is great praise or commendation, a laudatory speech, often about someone who has died.
Epanalepsis Device of repetition in which the same expression is repeated both at the beginning and at the end of the line, clause, or sentence.
Epic A long narrative poem, written in heightened language, which recounts the deeds of a heroic character who embodies the values of a particular society.
Epigraph A quotation or aphorism at the beginning of a literary work suggestive of the theme.
Epistrophe Device of repetition in which the same expression is repeated at the end of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences.
Epithet An adjective or adjective phrase applied to a person or thing that is frequently used to emphasize a characteristic quality.
Essay A short piece of nonfiction prose in which the writer discusses some aspect of a subject.
Argumentation One of the four forms of discourse which uses logic, ethics, and emotional appeals to develop an effective means to convince the reader to think or act in a certain way.
Persuasion Relies more on emotional appeal than on facts.
Argument Form of persuasion that appeals to reason instead of emotion to convince an audience to think or act in a certain way.
Causal relationship Form of argumentation in which the writer claims that one thing results from another, often used as part of a logical argument.
Description A form of discourse that uses language to create a mood or emotion.
Exposition One of the four major forms of discourse, in which something is explained or "set forth."
Narrative The form of discourse that tells about a series of events.
Explication Act of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text, usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.
Fable A very short story told in prose or poetry that teaches a practical lesson about how to succeed in life.
Farce A type of comedy in which ridiculous and often stereotyped characters are involved in silly, far-fetched situations.
Figurative Language Words which are inaccurate if interpreted literally, but are used to describe. Similes and metaphors are common forms.
Flashback A scene that interrupts the normal chronological sequence of events in a story to depict something that happened at an earlier time.
Foil A character who acts as contrast to another character. Often a funny sidekick to the dashing hero, or a villain contrasting the hero.
Foreshadowing The use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a plot.
Free Verse Poetry that does not conform to a regular meter or rhyme scheme.
Hypberbole A figure of speech that uses an incredible exaggeration or overstatement, for effect.
Hypotactic Sentence marked by the use of connecting words between clauses or sentences, explicitly showing the logical or other relationships between them.
Imagery The use of language to evoke a picture or a concrete sensation of a person, a thing, a place, or an experience.
Inverison The reversal of the normal word order in a sentence or phrase.
Irony A discrepancy between appearances and reality.
(Verbal) Irony Occurs when someone says one thing but really means another.
(Situational) Irony Takes place when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, or what would be appropriate to happen, and what really does happen.
(Dramatic) Irony So called because it is often used on stage. A character in the play or story thinks one thing is true, but the audience or reader knows better.
Juxtaposition Poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and wit.
Litotes A form of understatement in which the positive form is emphasized through the negation of a negative form.
Local Color Term applied to fiction or poetry which tends to place special emphasis on a particular setting, including its customs, clothing, dialect and landscape.
Loose Sentence One in which the main clause comes first, followed by further dependent grammatical units.
Lyric Poem A poem that does not tell a story but expresses the personal feelings or thoughts of the speaker. A ballad tells a story.
Metaphor A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things without the use of such specific words of comparison as like, as, than, or resembles.
(Implied) Metaphor Does not state explicitly the two terms of the comparison.
(Extended) Metaphor A metaphor that is extended or developed as far as the writer wants to take it.
(Dead) Metaphor A metaphor that has been used so often that the comparison is no longer vivid.
(Mixed) Metaphor A metaphor that has gotten out of control and mixes its terms so that they are visually or imaginatively incompatible.
Metonymy A figure of speech in which a person, place, or thing, is referred to by something closely associated with it.
Mood An atmosphere created by a writer's diction and the details selected.
Motif A recurring image, word, phrase, action, idea, object, or situation used throughout a work, unifying the work by tying the current situation to previous ones, or new ideas to the theme.
Motivation The reasons for a character's behavior.
Onomatopoeia The use of words whose sounds echo their sense
Oxymoron A figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory terms in a brief phrase.
Parable A relatively short story that teaches a moral, or lesson about how to lead a good life.
Paradox A statement that appears self-contradictory, but that reveals a kind of truth.
Koan A paradox used in Zen Buddhism to gain intuitive knowledge.
Parallel Structure The repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structures.
Paratactic Sentence Simply juxtaposes clauses or sentences.
Parody A work that makes fun of another work by imitating some aspect of the writer's style.
Periodic A sentence that places the main idea or central complete thought at the end of the sentence, after all the introductory elements.
Personification A figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.
Plot The series of related events in a story or play, sometimes called the storyline.
Exposition Introduces characters, situation, and setting.
Rising Action Complications in conflict and situations.
Climax That point in a plot that creates the greatest intensity, suspense, or interest.
Resolution The conclusion of a story, when all or most of the conflicts have been settled; often called the denouement.
Point of View THe vantage point from which the writer tells the story.
(First Person) Point of View One of the characters tells the story.
(Third Person) Point of View An unknown narrator, tells the story, but this narrator zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings of only one character.
(Omniscient) Point of View An omniscient or all knowing narrator tells the story, also using the third person pronouns. Instead of focusing on one character only, this narrator often tells us everything about many characters.
(Objective) Point of View A narrator who is totally impersonal and objective tells the story, with no comment on any characters or events.
Polysyndeton Sentence which uses a conjunction with no commas to separate the items in a series.
Protagonist The central character in a story, the one who initiates or drives the action.
Pun A "play on words" based on the multiple meanings of a single word or on words that sound alike but mean different things.
Quatrain A poem consisting of four lines, or four lines of a poem that can be considered as a unit.
Refrain A word, phrase, line, or group of lines that is repeated, for effect, several times in a poem
Rhythm A rise and fall of the voice produced by the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables in language.
Rhetoric Art of effective communication, persuasive discourse.
Rhetorical Question A question asked for an effect, and not actually requiring an answer.
Romance In general, a story in which an idealized hero or heroine undertakes a quest and is successful.
Satire A type of writing that ridicules the shortcomings of people or institutions in an attempt to bring about a change.
Simile A figure of speech that makes an explicitly comparison between two unlike things, using words such as like, as, than, or resembles.
Soliloquy A long speech made by a character in a play while no other characters are on stage.
Stereotype A fixed idea or conception of a character or an idea which does not allow for any individuality, often based on religious, social, or racial prejudices.
Stream of Consciousness A style of writing that portrays the inner workings of a character's mind.
Style The distinctive way in which a writer uses language: a writer's distinctive use of diction, tone, and syntax.
Suspense A feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about what will happen next in a story.
Symbol A person, place, thing or event that has meaning in itself and also for something more than itself.
Synecdoche A figure of speech in which a part represents the whole.
Syntactic Fluency Ability to create a variety of sentence structures, appropriately complex and/or simple and varied in length.
Syntactic Permutation Sentence structures that are extraordinarily complex and involved. Often difficult for a reader to follow.
Tall Tale An outrageously exaggerated, humorous story that is obviously unbelievable.
Telegraphic Sentence A sentence shorter than five words in length.
Theme The insight about human life that is revealed in a literary work.
Tone The attitude a writer takes toward the subject of a work, the characters in it, or the audience, revealed through diction. figurative language and organization.
Tragedy In general, a story in which a heroic character either dies or comes to some other unhappy end.
Tricolon Sentence of three parts of equal importance and length, usually three independent clauses.
Understatement A statement that says less than what is meant.
Unity Unified parts of the writing are related to one central idea or organizing principle. Unity is dependent upon coherence.
Vernacular The language spoken by the people who live in a particular locality.
Impressionism A 19th century movement in which literature and art which advocated a recording of the artist's personal impressions of the world, rather than a strict representation of reality.
Modernism A term for the bold new experimental styles and forms that swept the arts during the first third of the 20th century.
Naturalism A 19th century literary movement that was an extension of realism and that claimed to portray life exactly as it was.
Plain Style Writing style that stresses simplicity and clarity of expression and was the main form of the Puritan writers.
Puritanism Writing style of America's early English-speaking colonists; emphasizes obedience to God and consists mainly of journals, sermons, and poems.
Rationalism A movement that began in Europe in the 17th century, which held that we can arrive at truth by using our reason rather than relying on the authority of the past, the church, or an institution.
Realism A style of writing, developed in the 19th century, that attempts to depict life accurately without idealizing or romanticizing it.
Regionalism Literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and that reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of the people who live in that region.
Romanticism A revolt against Rationalism that affected literature and the other arts, beginning in the late 18th century and remaining strong throughout most of the 19th century.
Surrealism In movement in art and literature that started in Europe during the 1920s. Surrealists wanted to replace conventional realism with the full expression of the unconscious mind, which they considered to be more real than the "real" world of appearances.
Symbolism A literary movement that originated in the late 19th century France, in which writers rearranged the world of appearances in order to reveal a more truthful version of reality.
Transcendentalism A 19th century movement in the Romantic tradition, which held that every individual can reach ultimate truths through spiritual intuition, which transcends reasons and sensory experience.
Created by: Markrojas27