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AP Lit 100+ Vocab

Literary vocab

QuestionAnswer
Abstract Broad Concept.
Allegory Concrete presentation of an abstract idea.
Alliteration Repetition of the same initial consonant sounds in a sequence of words or syllables. EX: Big Brown Bear
Allusion Reference to another work of literature, or to art, history, or current events.
Analogy A comparison between two things.
Antagonist Character who opposes the protagonist. Creates or intensifies a conflict for the protagonist.
Assonance Repetition of vowel sounds in a sequence of words. EX: Crumbling Thunder
Atmosphere Feeling created for the reader by a work of literature.
Antihero Protagonist who does not exhibit the qualities of the traditional hero.
Anthropomorphism Any attribution of human characteristics to animals, non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts
Anachronism A chronological inconsistency in some arrangement
Aesthetic A branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty.
Anticlimax Descent from a higher to a lower emotional point.
Archaism A word, expression, or phrase that has become obsolete.
Academic Not expected to produce an immediate or practical result
Aside Where a character addresses the audience to reveal some inner thought or feeling.
Accent Emphasis placed on a syllable.
Aphorism A concise statement that claims to reveal a truth or principle.
Approximate Rhyme (slant) Rhyme in which words contain similar sounds but do not rhyme perfectly.
Aubade Lyric/Song delivered at dawn, involving lovers who must part or one lover who asks the other to wake up.
Bombast Inflated, extravagant, often ranting language.
Ballad 3 long stanzas ( 8 lines rhyming ababbcbc) and a concluding envoi (usually 4 lines rhyming bcbc).
Black Humor Dark, disturbing, and often morbid or grotesque mode of comedy.
Burlesque Comedy in which distortion and exaggeration are employed to ridicule and deflate, either through the trivialization of a lofty subject or through the glorification of a lowly or commonplace one.
Blank Verse Unrhymed verse but usually referring to unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Classic Works that have gained such widespread recognition that readers and critics over time agree that they have merit transcending the particular period in which they were written.
Cacophony Harsh, unpleasant, or discordant sounds.
Colloquialism A word or phrase that is common in everyday, unconstrained conversation rather than in formal speech, or academic writing.
Conceit/controlling image Figure of speech involving an elaborate and often surprising comparison between two apparently high dissimilar things.
Cadence Such a modulation in reading aloud as implied by the structure and ordering of words and phrases in written text.
Coinage A newly invented word, phrase, usage, etc.
Catharsis The emotional effect a tragic drama has on its audience.
Couplet Two successive lines of rhyming verse.
Connotation The association(s) evoked by a words beyond it's literal meaning.
Canto Italian for "song". A section, often numbered, of a long poem.
Chorus A character who comments on characters and events, thereby providing the audience with an additional perspective.
Consonance Repetition of a final consonant sound or sounds following different vowel sounds in proximate words (made/wood).
Caricature An exaggeration or other distortion of an individual's prominent features or characteristics that makes the person appear ridiculous.
Caesura Pause in a line of poetry.
Character Figure in a literary work.
Characterization Authors making their characters "come to life" by describing thoughts and emotions as well as physical attributes, actions, conversations, and so forth.
Climax Point of greatest tension or emotional intensity in a plot.
Comic Relief A humorous scene or passage inserted into an otherwise serious work.
Comedy Broadly defined, any amusing and entertaining work.
Conflict A confrontation or struggle between opposing character or forces in a plot of a narration work, from which the action emanates and around which it revolves.
Deus ex Machina An unexpected power or event saving a hopeless situation, esp. as a plot device in a play or novel.
Didactic Writing Instructive or providing information for a particular purpose.
Diction A speaker's word choice.
Dissonance Harsh, discordant sounds.
Doggerel Poorly written or crude verse that usually has a humorous quality, a rough or irregular style, and a sentimental or trite subject.
Decorum Propriety of conduct in accordance with societal conventions.
Dirge Song/Poem of mourning.
Denotation A word's literal meaning(s).
Euphony Pleasing, harmonious sounds.
Epic Long and formal narrative poem written in an elevated style that recounts the adventures of a hero of almost mythic proportions who often embodies the traits of a nation or people.
Elegy Poem that laments the loss of someone or something, but may also be used even more broadly to refer to any serious, reflective poem.
Euphemism A mild or indirect word or expression for one too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
Editorializing Make comments or express opinions rather than just report the news.
End Rhyme Rhyme that occurs at the end of lines in verse.
End-Stopped Line A line of poetry whose meaning is complete in itself and that ends with a grammatical pause marked by punctuation.
Epiphany Sudden revelatory experience or a work such an experience occurs.
English/Shakespearean Sonnet 14 line sonnet consisting of 3 quatrains with the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef, followed by a couplet rhyming gg.
Figurative Language Language that employs one or more figures of speech to supplement or modify the literal, denotative meanings of words with additional connotations.
Foreshadowing Technique of introducing into a narrative material that prepares the reader or audience for future events, actions, or revelations.
Foot A rhythmic unit containing 2 or more syllables in a line of verse.
1st Person Narrator One character at a time, speaking for and about themselves.
Free Verse Poetry lacking a regular meter, does not rhyme, and uses irregular line lengths.
Farce Type of low comedy that employs improbable or otherwise ridiculous situations and mix-ups, slapstick and horseplay, and crude or even bawdy dialogue.
Foil A character whose contrast with the main character serves to accentuate the latter's distinctive qualities or characteristics.
Gothic Medieval or uncouth.
Genre Classification of literary works on the basis of their content, form, or technique.
Villanelle 19 lines grouped in 5 tercets followed by a quatrain and involving only 2 rhymes, with the rhyme scheme aba aba aba aba aba abaa.
Hubris Excessive pride that brings about the protagonist's downfall.
Hyperbole A trope employing deliberate, emphatic exaggeration, usually for comic or ironic effect.
Iamb A metrical foot in poetry that consists of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable.
In Medias Res Latin for "into the midst of things," the literary technique of beginning a narrative in the middle of the action.
Interior Monologue Rendering stream of consciousness by reproducing a character's mental flow.
Inversion Reversal of the normal order of words.
Irony A contradiction between appearance and reality.
Imagery Refers to the language used to convey a visual picture.
Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet 14 line sonnet consisting of two parts: the octave, 8 lines with the rhyme scheme abbaabba; and the sestet, 6 lines usually following the rhyme scheme cdecde.
Melodrama A sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.
Metaphor A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
Meter The more or less regular rhythmic pattern of stresses and unstressed syllables in verse.
Metonymy Figure of speech in which one thing is represented by another that is commonly and often physically associated with it.
Motivation The combination of personality and situation that impels a character to behave the way he or she does.
Mystery Something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.
Narrator Speaker through whom an author presents a narrative, often but not always a character in the work.
Nemesis The inescapable or implacable agent of someone's or something's downfall.
Octave 8 line stanza
Omniscient Narrator Both the reader and author observe the situation either through the senses and thoughts of more than one character, or through an overarching godlike perspective that sees and knows everything that happens.
Oxymoron A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.
Objective Narrator Presents only the external actions and not the character's thoughts and feeling
Onomatopoeia The formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g., cuckoo, sizzle).
Paradox A statement that seems self-contradictory or nonsensical on the surface but that, upon closer examination, may express an underlying truth.
Parenthetical Phrase Information that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.
Pastoral A work of literature portraying an idealized version of country life.
Prelude Action or event serving as an introduction to something more important.
Protagonist Main character in a work; usually also the hero or heroine, but sometimes an antihero.
Persona Generally, the speaker in a literary work, often a first-person narrator.
Parody An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
Parable A short, realistic, but usually fictional story told to illustrate a moral or religious point or lesson.
Pathos Quality in a work or a portion thereof that makes the reader experience pity, sorrow, or tenderness.
Periodic Sentence A complex sentence in which the main clause comes last and is preceded by the subordinate clause.
Personification The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.
Point of View (POV) The perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information.
Quatrain 4 line stanza.
Rhapsody An effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling.
Requiem A song or hymn of mourning.
Rhetorical Question A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
Refrain A phrase, line, or lines that recur(s) throughout a poem or song.
Rhythm A measured flow of words and signifying the basic beat or pattern in language that is established by stressed syllables, unstressed syllables, and pauses.
Rhyme A correspondence or echoing of similar sounds in words.
Rhyme Scheme The pattern of rhyme in a poem or stanza, typically described by assigning a lower case letter to each new rhyming sound.
Run-on Line When the natural pause in reading does not coincide with the end of a line, the speaker continues without pause.
Structure The arrangement of material in a work.
Subjectivity Judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts.
Stream of Consciousness The continuous flow of past and present experience through the conscious mind.
Syntax The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.
Simile The comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, using like or as.
Suspension of Disbelief Temporary acceptance without protest in the premises of a fictional work, regardless of reality or probability.
Soliloquy An act of speaking one's thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, esp. by a character in a play.
Satire The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity.
Stanza A grouped set of lines in a poem.
Stock Characters A fictional character based on a common literary or social stereotype.
Theme The central topic, subject, or concept.
Tone The attitude of the author toward the reader, audience, or subject matter of a literary work.
Tragedy A serious and often somber drama that typically ends in disaster and that focuses on a character who undergoes unexpected personal reversals.
Travesty A false, absurd, or distorted representation of something.
Thesis A paper or monograph written by a degree-seeking candidate in fulfillment of academic requirements.
Tragic Flaw A character trait in a tragic hero or heroine that brings about his or her downfall.
Understatement The presentation of something as being smaller or less good or important than it actually is.
Utopia An imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.
Verse An individual line of poetry or a stanza of a poem or song.
Created by: naninsen