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00923--LITERARY TERMS DEFINED




LITERARY TERMS DEFINED

alliteration
the repetition of sounds at the beginning of words and syllables.
epigram
a short pithy saying.
Example; Truth is never pure, and rarely simple.
euphemism
an indirect way of referring to distressing or unpalatable facts.
Example; I’ve lost both my parents. (= they’ve died)
hyperbole
exaggeration
Example; Jack cut his knee rather badly and lost gallonsof blood.
irony
saying one thing while clearly meaning the opposite.
Example; ‘For Brutus is an honourable man’. (Shakespeare: ‘Julius
Caesar’)
litotes
understatement.
He was not exactly polite. (= very rude)
metaphor
a compressed comparison.
Anna flewdownstairs. (i.e. her speed resembled the speed of
a bird in flight)
metonymy
the substitution of something closely associated.
The bottle has been his downfall. (= alcohol)
 The kettle’s boiling. (= the water in the kettle)
 The pen is mightier than the sword.
onomatopoeia
echoing the sound.
Bees buzz; sausages sizzle in the pan; ice-cubes tinkle in the
glass.
oxymoron
apparently contradictory terms which make sense at a
deeper level.
The cruel mercy of the executioner bought him peace at last.
paradox
a deliberately contradictory statement on the surface
which challenges you to discover the underlying truth.
If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. (G. K.
Chesterton)
personification
describing abstract concepts and inanimate objects as though they were people.
Death lays his icy hand on kings. (James Shirley)
Often human feelings are also attributed. This extension of personification is called the pathetic fallacy.

 The wind sobbed and shrieked in impotent rage.
pun
a play on words by calling upon two meanings at once.
Is life worth living? It depends on the liver.
rhetorical question
no answer needed!
Do you want to fail your exam?
simile
a comparison introduced by ‘like’, ‘as’, ‘as if’ or ‘as though’.
 O, my Luve’s like a red red rose
That’s newly sprung in June. (Robert Burns)
 I wandered lonely as a cloud. (William Wordsworth)
synecdoche
referring to the whole when only a part is meant, or vice versa.
 England has lost the Davis Cup. (= one person)
All hands on deck!
transferred epithet
the adjective is moved from the person it describes to an object.
She sent an apologetic letter.
He tossed all night on a sleepless pillow.
zeugma
grammatical play on two applications of a word.
She swallowed her pride and three dry sherries.


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