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We have the largest database of literary terms explained, with examples and resources to assist. Explore the glossary with 545 terms defined.

Let sleeping dogs lie

“Let sleeping dogs lie” is a reminder not to bring unnecessary risk or danger upon oneself.


Alba is a specific type of poetry. It’s a genre of lyric poetry from the Old Occitan period, also known as the Old Provençal.

Cross that bridge when you come to it

“Cross that bridge when you come to it” is used to suggest that it’s not necessary to do or worry about something until it happens.


Prosody is the study of meter, rhyme, and the sound and pattern of words. It is used in prose but far more commonly in poetry.


Hypophora is a figure of speech that occurs when writing asks a question and then immediately follows that question up with an answer.

External Conflict

External conflict is a type of conflict, problem, or struggle that takes place in a novel, narrative poem, play, or other literary work.


A portmanteau is a literary device. It occurs when the writer joins two or more words together to create a new word.


Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas or meanings. They are imbued with certain qualities often only interpretable through context.


Ethos is one of the three modes of persuasion, along with logos and pathos. In rhetoric, it refers to an argument that appeals to the audience through empathizing with the speaker’s credibility.

Accentual-Syllabic Verse

Accentual-syllabic verse is a type of accentual verse in which the writer uses the same number of syllables within each line.

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