Glossary of Literary Terms

Explore the largest glossary of terms on all things poetry and literature, with 255 terms explained

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  • a
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
    "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" suggests that it’s better to have a certain advantage than the possibility of an advantage.
  • A blessing in disguise
    “A blessing in disguise” refers to the idea that something negative can have a positive outcome.
  • A chip off the old block
    “A chip off the old block” is used to refer to someone who is similar to a person who was influential in their life.
  • A dime a dozen
    “A dime a dozen” refers to something that’s so common and plentiful that it’s practically worthless.
  • A penny for your thoughts
    “A penny for your thoughts” is a figurative way of asking someone to rejoin a conversation.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words
    “A picture is worth a thousand words” suggests that a picture contains far more in its colors and content than 1,000 words ever could.
  • Abstract Diction
    Abstract diction occurs when the poet wants to express something ephemeral, or ungraspable.
  • Accumulation
    Accumulation is a literary device that relates to a list of words or phrases that have similar, if not the same, meanings.
  • Acrostic
    An acrostic is a piece of writing in which letters form words or messages. The “acrostic” is most commonly associated with poetry.
  • Actions speak louder than words
    “Actions speak louder than words” refers to the fact that acts are more meaningful than statements.
  • Ad Hominem
    An ad hominem attack uses irrelevant information in an attempt to discredit someone's opinion or argument.
  • Adage
    An adage is a short, familiar and memorable saying that strikes as an irrefutable truth to a wide segment of the population.
  • Adynaton
    Adynaton a literary device similar to hyperbole. It's an exaggeration that is stretched to the absolute extreme. The proffered scenario is impossible.
  • Allegory
    An allegory is a narrative found in verse and prose in which a character or event is used to speak about a broader theme.
  • Alliteration
    Alliteration is a technique that makes use of repeated sound at the beginning of multiple words, grouped together. It is used in poetry and prose.
  • Allusion
    An allusion is an indirect reference to, including but not limited to, an idea, event, or person. It is used within both prose and verse writing.
  • Ambiguity
    Ambiguity is a word or statement that has more than one meaning. If a phrase is ambiguous, it means multiple things.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away
    “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” suggests that eating one apple everyday is going to prevent someone from having to go to the doctor.
  • Anachronism
    An anachronism is an error in the timeline or chronology of a piece of literature. This can be a purposeful or accidental error.
  • Anacoluthon
    Anacoluthon occurs when the writer changes the expected grammatical structure of a sentence and interrupts it with another sentence.
  • Anagram
    An anagram is a rearragnement of the letters in a word or phrase to create a new word or phrase.
  • Analogy
    An analogy is an extensive comparison between one thing and another that is very different from it.
  • Anapest
    Anapestic Meter depends on three-syllable sections of verse, or words. An anapest is two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed.
  • Anaphora
    Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines, usually in succession.
  • Anastrophe
    Anastrophe, also known as inversion, is a literary technique in which a writer changes the normal order of words.
  • Anecdote
    Anecdotes are short stories used in everday conversation in order to inspire, amuse, caution and more.
  • Antagonist
    The antagonist, in literature, is a character who is considered to be the rival of the protagonist.
  • Antecedent
    An antecedent is a literary device in which a pronoun or noun refers to an earlier phrase or word.
  • Anthropomorphism
    Anthropomorphism is used to make inanimate objects, forces and animals appear to actually be human beings.
  • Anti-Hero
    An anti-hero is a character who is characterized by contrasting traits. This person has some of the traits of a hero and of a villain.
  • Aphorism
    Aphorisms are short, serious, humorous, and philosophical truths about life.
  • Aporia
    Aporia is a figure of speech where a speaker or writer poses a question. This question expresses doubt or confusion.
  • Aposiopesis
    Aposiopesis is defined as a figure of speech in which the writer stops a line of text in the middle of a sentence.
  • Apostrophe
    Apostrophe, in poetry, is a figure of speech in which a character or speaker addresses someone who is absent.
  • Archaism
    An archaism is a figure of speech in which a writer’s choice of word or phrase is purposefully old fashioned.
  • Archetype
    Archetypes are universal symbols. They are characters, themes, and settings that appear throughout literary works.
  • Argument
    The argument of a piece of literature is a statement, towards the beginning of a work, that declares what it’s going to be about.
  • Aside
    An aside is a dramatic device that is used within plays to help characters express their inner thoughts.
  • Assonance
    Assonance occurs when two or more words that are close to one another use the same vowel sound.
  • At the Drop of a hat
    To do something at the “drop of a hat” means that one is going to immediately do whatever it is they need to do.
  • Attitude
    In literature, attitude refers to the tone a writer takes on whatever they are writing. It can come through in a character’s intentions,(...)
  • Audience
    The audience of a piece of literature, a film, or a song, is the group for which an artist or writer makes a piece of art or writes.
  • Autobiography
    An autobiography is an account of one’s life written by the subject.
  • b
  • Ballad
    A ballad is a kind of verse, sometimes narrative in nature, often set to music and developed from 14th and 15th-century minstrelsy.
  • Bandwagon
    Bandwagon is a persuasive style of writing that is used to convince readers of an argument or make them understand a certain perspective.
  • Bathos
    Bathos is defined as a sudden, jolting change in the tone of a work. This could occur in a poem, play, story, or film.
  • Beat around the bush
    "Beat around the bush” suggests someone is avoiding saying something. They're likely trying not to address a necessary topic.
  • Bildungsroman
    A bildungsroman is a literary genre that focuses on coming of age stories, following a character's progression towards adulthood.
  • Biography
    A biography is an account or description of a person's life, literary, fictional, historical, or popular in nature, written by a biographer.
  • Birds of a feather flock together
    Birds of a feather flock together refers to similarities within groups that allow the indiviudals to connect and feel safe with one another.
  • Bite the bullet
    “Bite the bullet” is used when speaking about something difficult or unpleasant. You bite the bullet when you do that unpleasant thing.
  • Black Humor
    Black humor is a literary device that's used in all forms of literature in order to discuss taboo subjects in a less distressing way.
  • Blank Verse
    Blank verse is a kind of poetry that is written in unrhymed lines but with a regular metrical pattern.
  • Break a leg
    “Break a leg” is commonly used in the world of theatre as a way of wishing a performer or group of performers good luck.
  • By the skin of your teeth
    The idiom "By the skin of your teeth" is a way of saying that you only just got by.
  • c
  • Cadence
    Cadence is the natural rhythm of a piece of text, created through a writer’s selective arrangement of words, rhymes, and the creation of meter.
  • Caesura
    A caesura is a break or pause in the middle of a line of verse. These breaks can be towards the beginning, middle, or the end of a line. 
  • Canto
    A canto is a subsection of a long narrative or epic poem. It is made up of at least five lines but it normally much longer.
  • Canzone
    The word “canzone” means “song” in Italian and first used to refer to a verse form in Italy and France in the medieval period.
  • Characterization
    Characterization is a literary device that is used to detail and explains the aspects of a specifically crafted character in a novel, play, or poem.
  • Chiasmus
    Chiasmus is a rhetorical device that occurs when the grammatical structure of a previous phrase or clause is reversed or flipped.
  • Cinquain
    A cinquain is a poetic form that makes use of a pattern of five lines.
  • Cliffhanger
    A cliffhanger is a narrative device that’s used to end a story abruptly before an action or segment the plot is concluded.
  • Climax
    The climax is the point at which the main character is forced to contend with the central conflict of the story.
  • Colloquial Diction
    Colloquial diction is conversational in nature and can be seen through the use of informal words that represent a specific place or time.
  • Comedy
    Comedy is a humorous and entertaining genre of literature, film, and television.
  • Comparing apples to oranges
    "Comparing apples to oranges” is used when someone is wanting to refer to the obvious differences between two things.
  • Conceit
    The word conceit refers to two different kinds of comparisons: the metaphysical, made famous by John Donne, and the Petrarchan.
  • Confessional Poetry
    Confessional Poetry is a style of poetry that is personal, often making use of a first-person narrator. It is a branch of Postmodernism that(...)
  • Conflict
    In literature, conflict is a plot device used by writers when two opposing sides come up against each other. 
  • Consonance
    Consonance is the repetition of a consonant sound in words, phrases, sentences, or passages in prose and verse writing.
  • Cost an arm and a leg
    “Cost an arm and a leg” refers to a high cost, something astronomically expensive that is compared through this phrase, to give up an arm or a leg.
  • Couplet
    A couplet is a literary device that is made up of two rhyming lines of verse. These fall in succession, or one after another.
  • 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.
  • d
  • Dactyl
    A dactyl is one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. It is the opposite of an anapest.
  • Dead as a doornail
    “Dead as a doornail” has been used for several centuries to refer to something that’s completely and irrevocably dead.
  • Denotation
    Denotation is the literal definition of a word. It is the meaning that’s most commonly found in dictionaries and other academic sources.
  • Deus Ex Machina
    Deus ex machina refers to conclusions that involve a divine intervention or other improbable events.
  • Dialogue
    Dialogue is a literary technique that is concerned with conversations held between two or more characters.
  • Diamante Poetry
    Diamonte is a poetic form that is made up of seven lines that are formatted into the shape of a diamond.
  • Dichotomy
    Dichotomies create conflict between characters, groups, states of being, ideas, and more.
  • Do unto others as you would have done unto you
    “Do unto others as you would have do unto you” asks everyone to treat those around them as they would like to be treated.
  • Don't cry over spilt milk
    “Don’t cry over spilt milk” is used to remind someone that there’s no point crying over something that has already happened.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket
    "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is an idiom that means “don’t risk everything by committing to one plan or idea”.
  • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
    "Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” means don’t act on a good outcome that hasn’t actually occurred yet.
  • Double Entendre
    A double entendre is a literary device, phrase, and/or figure of speech that has multiple meanings or interpretations.
  • Dramatic Monologue
    A dramatic monologue is a conversation a speaker has with themselves, or which is directed at a listen or reader who does not respond.
  • Dystopia
    A dystopia is the opposite of a utopia. It is an imagined place or community in which the majority of the people suffer. 
  • e
  • Ekphrastic
    Ekphrastic is a type of poem that explores art. The poet engages with any type of visual art within their writing.
  • Elegy
    An elegy, in literature, is a poem or song that is written in dedication to someone who has died.
  • Elephant in the room
    "The elephant in the room" is used to refer to an important topic, problem, or issue that needs to be addressed but has yet to be.
  • End-Stopped Line
    An end-stopped line is a pause that occurs at the end of a line of poetry. It might conclude a phrase or sentence.
  • Enjambment
    Enjambment occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point.
  • Epic Poetry
    An epic is a long narrative poem that tells the story of heroic deeds, normally accomplished by more-than-human characters.
  • Epigraph
    An epigraph, in literature, is a phrase, quote, or any short piece of text that comes before a longer document (a poem, story, book, etc).
  • Epilogue
    An epilogue is an extra chapter at the end of a literary work. 
  • Epistle
    An epistle is a letter that comes in the form of either prose or poetry.
  • Epistrophe
    Epistrophe, or epiphora, is the repetition of the same word, or a phrase, at the end of multiple clauses or sentences.
  • Epitaph
    An epitaph is a short lyric written in memory of someone who has died. Sometimes, epitaphs serve as elegies.
  • Epithet
    An epithet is a literary device used to describe something or someone with characteristics that are more interesting and prominent than they are(...)
  • Eulogy
    A eulogy is a speech, or short piece of writing, created in honor of someone who has recently died.
  • Euphemism
    A euphemism is an indirect expression used to replace that something that is deemed inappropriate or crude.
  • Euphony
    Euphony is a literary device that refers to the musical, or pleasing, qualities of words.
  • Exposition
    Exposition is the important background information that a writer includes in a story.
  • Extend an olive branch
    “Extend an olive branch” is used when someone wants to end a confrontation or an argument.
  • Extended Metaphor
    An extended metaphor is a literary term that refers to a long metaphorical comparison that can last an entire poem.
  • f
  • Falling Action
    The falling action occurs near the end of the story, following the climax and before the resolution.
  • False Dichotomy
    A false dichotomy is a choice between two options that's delivered as though they are the only two possible options.
  • Fantasy
    Fantasy is a literary genre that includes talking animals, magic, and other worlds. It includes plots that couldn’t take place in the real world.
  • Figurative Language
    Figurative language refers to figures of speech that are used in order to improve a piece of writing.
  • First Person Point of View
    The first person narrative perspective is a literary style in which the narrator tells a story about him or herself. 
  • Flash Forward
    A flash forward provides readers and characters with knowledge about future events.
  • Flashback
    A flashback is a plot device in a book, film, story, or poem in which the readers learn about the past.
  • Folklore
    Folklore refers to stories that people tell. These include folk stores, fairy tales, urban legends, and more. 
  • Foreshadowing
    Foreshadowing refers to the hints a writer gives a reader about what’s going to happen next. It's a common literary device that's used every day.
  • Formal Diction
    Formal diction is used when the setting is sophisticated. This could be anything from a speech, to a paper submitted to a journal.
  • Found Poetry
    Found poetry is a type of poem that’s created using someone else’s words, phrases, or structure.
  • Frame Story
    A frame story is a narrative within a narrative. It occurs when one character decides to tell another story to the other characters around him/her.
  • Free Verse
    In free verse, lines are unrhymed and there are no consistent metrical patterns. But, that doesn't mean it is entirely without structure.
  • Freudian Slip
    A Freudian slip is an error, usually in speech or action, that reveals something about one’s unconscious feelings. The error might also be in memory. 
  • g
  • Genre
    Genre is a type of art, literary work, or musical composition that is defined by its content, style, or a specific form to which it conforms.
  • Ghazal
    A ghazal is a type of poem that is constructed with couplets, repeated words, and rhyming words.
  • Gothic
    Gothic literature, poetry, and prose is that which deals with themes of death, the supernatural, sorrow, fear, loss, and more.
  • h
  • Haiku Poem
    A haiku is a three-line Japanese poem that follows a syllable pattern of 5-7-5.
  • Historical Fiction
    Historical Fiction is a genre that fictionalizes real places, people, and events. It takes place in the past with accurate historical details in(...)
  • Horror
    Horror is a genre of fiction that plays with human fear, feelings of terror, dread, and repulsion to entertain the audience. 
  • Hymn Stanza
    A hymn stanza uses a rhyme scheme of ABCB and alternates between iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter.
  • Hyperbole
    Hyperbole is defined as an intentionally exaggerated description, comparison, or exclamation meant to make a specific impact on a reader.
  • Hypophora
    Hypophora is a figure of speech that occurs when writing asks a question and then immediately follows that question up with an answer.
  • i
  • Iambic Pentameter
    Iambic pentameter is a very common way that lines of poetry are structured. Each line has five sets of two beats, the first is unstressed and(...)
  • Idiom
    An idiom is a short-expression that means something different than its literal translation.
  • Imagery
    Imagery refers to the elements of a poem that engage a reader’s senses. These are the important sights, sounds, feelings, and smells.
  • Imagism
    Imagism was a literary movement of the early 20th century. The proponents were interested in the use of precise imagery and clear language.
  • In Medias Res
    In Medias Res refers to the narration of a story beginning part through events, skipping over the exposition.
  • Irony
    Irony occurs when an outcome is different than expected. It is very possible for one situation to strike one reader as ironic and another not.
  • It's a piece of cake
    “It’s a piece of cake” is used to refer to something that’s simple or easy.
  • It's raining cats and dogs
    "It is raining cats and dogs" is an English idiom. It is used to describe a very heavy rain but not one that's associated with animals.
  • j
  • Jump on the bandwagon
    To “jump on the bandwagon” means that one is going to join in with whatever new or popular thing the majority is doing or thinking.
  • Juxtaposition
    Juxtaposition is a literary technique that places two unlike things next to one another.
  • k
  • Know which way the wind blows
    “Know which way the wind blows” is used metaphorically to refer to understanding where public opinion is.
  • l
  • Leave no stone unturned
    "Leave no stone unturned" is a way of saying one is not going to give up searching till they find what they've lost or what they need.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie
    "Let sleeping dogs lie” is a reminder not to bring unnecessary risk or danger upon oneself.
  • Limerick
    A limerick is a humorous poem that follows a fixed structure of five lines and a rhyme scheme of AABBA.
  • Line Break
    A line break occurs when a poet decides to stop a line and begin another. It can happen with or without punctuation.
  • Literary Modernism
    Literary modernism originated in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It was mainly focused in Europe and North America.
  • Logos
    Logos is the use of logic to create a persuasive argument in writing.
  • Lost Generation
    Lost Generation refers to a group of writers who came of age during World War I and dealt with the social changes the war brought.
  • Love is blind
    “Love is blind” is a direct idiom, one that clearly refers to the way that love blinds the lover to certain truths.
  • Lyric Poem
    A lyric poem is a musically inclined, short verse that speaks on poignant and powerful emotions.
  • m
  • Mad as a hatter
    “Mad as a hatter” is a humorous idiom used to refer to someone who is completely crazy.
  • Magical Realism
    Magical Realism is a genre of fiction writing that is interested in imbuing the modern realistic world with magical, fantastical elements.
  • Malapropism
    A malapropism occurs when a writer, character, or other source uses a word incorrectly, usually rendering the sentence nonsensical.
  • Metafiction
    Metafiction refers to stories in which the characters, author, or narrator acknowledge the fact that they're parts of a fiction.
  • Metaphor
    A metaphor is used to describe an object, person, situation or action in a way that helps a reader understand it, without using "like" or "as".
  • Metaphysical Poetry
    Metaphysical poetry is marked by the use of elaborate figurative languages, original conceits, paradoxes, and philosophical topics.
  • Metonymy
    Metonymy a kind of figurative language that refers to a situation in which one term is substituted for another.
  • Miltonic Sonnet
    The Miltonic Sonnet is one of the main sonnet forms and was popularized by the poet John Milton who was born in 1609 in London, England.
  • Mood
    Mood is the feeling created by the writer for the reader. It is what happens within a reader because of the tone the writer used in the poem.
  • Morality Play
    A morality play is a genre of theatre popular in the medieval and Tudor period. 
  • Motif
    A motif is an action, image, idea, or sensory perception that repeats in a work of literature.
  • Myth
    A myth is a genre of folklore that usually includes a hero and sometimes fanatical elements. 
  • Mythopoeia
    Mythopoeia is a genre of modern literature (and film) that refers to the creation of artificial mythology.
  • n
  • Narration
    Narration is the use of commentary, either written or spoken, to tell a story or “narrative.”
  • Narrative Hook
    A narrative hook appears at the beginning of a piece of literature and is used to “hook” or capture the reader’s attention.
  • Narrative Poem
    Narrative poems contain all the elements of a story and are normally longer than average.
  • Nonce Word
    A nonce word is a made-up word, or lexeme, created by a writer in poetry or fiction. 
  • Novel
    A novel is a long, written, fictional narrative that includes some amount of realism.
  • Novella
    A novella is a prose, fiction work that’s shorter than a novel and longer than a short story. 
  • Nursery Rhyme
    A nursery rhyme is a short rhyming song or poem that conveys a lesson or tells an amusing story. They are aimed at children.
  • o
  • Octave
    The word “octave” comes from the Latin word meaning “eighth part”. It is an eight-line stanza or poem.
  • Ode
    An ode is a formal lyric poem that is written in celebration or dedication. They are generally directed with specific intent.
  • Old English
    Old English is the earliest recorded version of the English language spoken in England and Scotland during the Middle ages.
  • Onomatopoeia
    An onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the natural sound of a thing.
  • Out of the frying pan and into the fire
    “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” is a clever way of depicting a bad situation getting worse.
  • Oxymoron
    An oxymoron is a kind of figurative language in which two contrasting things are connected together.
  • p
  • Paean
    A paean expresses thanks, elation, or triumph through the form of a song or lyrical poem.
  • Palindrome
    A palindrome is defined as a word or sentence that is read the same forward as it is backwards.
  • Parable
    A parable is a short fictional story that speaks on a religious attitude or moral belief.
  • Paraphrasing
    Paraphrasing a poem means to simplify it down to its most basic elements, clarifying along the way and choosing less complicated language.
  • Parody
    A parody is created based on an already existing work in order to make fun of it.
  • Pastoral
    Pastoral poetry is a genre or mode of poetry that refers to works that idealize country life and the landscape they take place in.
  • Pathetic Fallacy
    Pathetic fallacy is used to describe the attribution of human emotions and actions onto non-human things found in nature.
  • Pathos
    Pathos is an appeal made by the writer to the audience’s emotions in order to make them feel something.
  • Penny Dreadful
    Penny dreadfuls were a cheap, serialized form of literature popular in the nineteenth century. 
  • Persona
    A persona is an invented perspective that a writer uses. The point of view might be entirely different than their own.
  • Personification
    Personification is a literary device that refers to the projection of human characteristics onto inanimate objects in order to create imagery.
  • Petrarchan/Italian Sonnet
    Petrarchan/Italian sonnets are fourteen lines long, follow an initial rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, and use iambic pentameter.
  • Play (Theatre)
    A play is a form of writing for theatre. It is divided into acts and scenes. 
  • Play Devil’s Advocate
    If someone decides to “play devil’s advocate” then they are arguing a position for the sake of it, not necessarily because they believe it.
  • Plot
    The plot is a connected sequence of events that make up a novel, poem, play, film, television show, and other narrative works.
  • Poem Subject
    The subject of a poem might also be called the main idea, goal, or thing about which the poem is concerned.
  • Point of View
    Point of view is what the speaker, narrator, or character can see from their perspective.
  • Prologue
    The prologue is the opening to a story that comes before the first page or chapter. It is used to establish context or to provide necessary details.
  • Prose
    Prose is a written and spoken language form that does not make use of a metrical pattern or rhyme scheme.
  • Protagonist
    The protagonist is the main character of a story, generally considered to be the hero or the force for good. 
  • Proverb
    A proverb is a short, simple statement that gives advice. It is based in common experience.
  • Pushing up daisies
    Pushing up daisies” is a popular idiom used to refer to someone who has died.
  • q
  • Quatrain
    A quatrain is a verse form that is made up of four lines with fifteen different possible rhyme schemes.
  • r
  • Red Herring
    A red herring is a fallacy that introduces something irrelevant to a larger narrative.
  • Repetition
    Repetition is an important literary technique that sees a writer reuse words or phrases multiple times.
  • Rhyme Scheme of Sonnets
    Sonnets usually conform to one of two different rhyme schemes, those connected to the Shakespearean and the Petrarchan sonnet forms.
  • Rising Action
    The rising action comes after the exposition and before the climax. It includes the complicating or inciting incident.
  • Romance
    Romance is a narrative genre of literature. It can feature elements that include mystery, adventure, bravery, and more.
  • Romanticism
    Romanticism was a movement that originated in Europe at the end of the 18th century and emphasized aesthetic experience and imagination.
  • Rondel
    The rondel has two quatrains that are followed by a quintet, a set of five lines. The verse form has its origins in lyrical poetry of(...)
  • s
  • Satire/Satirical Comedy
    Satire and satirical comedy are used to analyze behaviors to make fun of, criticize, or chastise them in a humorous way.
  • Science Fiction
    Science fiction is a literary genre that focuses on imaginative content based in science. 
  • Second Person Point of View
    The second person narrative perceptive is a literary style in which the narrator tells a story about “you”. 
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
    A self-fulfilling prophecy in literature is a phenomenon in which a character predicts something and by trying to avoid it makes the thing happen.
  • Serendipity
    Serendipity is the experience of finding something joyful in that which came unexpectedly.
  • Sestet
    A sestet is a six-line stanza or poem, or the second half or a sonnet. It does not require a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern.
  • Shakespearean Sonnet
    The Shakespearean sonnet follows a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG and uses iambic pentameter.
  • Sibilance
    Sibilance is a literary device in which consonant sounds are stressed. These are primarily "s" and "th" sounds.
  • Simile
    A simile is a comparison between two unlike things that uses the words “like” or “as”.
  • Slam Poetry
    Slam poetry, also known as spoken word poetry, is typically performed at what is known as a “poetry slam”.
  • Slang Diction
    Slang diction contains words that are very specific to a region and time, and have been recently coined.
  • Soliloquy
    A soliloquy is a dramatic literary device that is used when a character gives a speech that reveals something about their thought process.
  • Sonnet
    Traditionally, sonnets are fourteen-line poems that follow a strict rhyme scheme and conform to the metrical pattern of iambic pentameter.
  • Speak of the devil
    "Speak of the devil" is used to acknowledge that someone who was the subject of discussion has come into the room.
  • Speaker in Poetry
    The speaker in a piece of poetry might be the poet, an imagined character, a creature or even an object.
  • Spenserian Sonnet
    The Spenserian sonnet was invented by the famous sixteenth-century poet Edmund Spenser and uses a rhyme scheme of ABAB BCBC CDCD EE.
  • Spondee
    Spondee is an arrangement of two syllables in which both are stressed.
  • Sprung Rhythm
    Sprung rhythm is a rhythmic pattern used in poetry that mimics natural speech. 
  • Stream of Consciousness
    Stream of consciousness is a style of writing in which thoughts are conveyed without a filter or clear punctuation.
  • Structure of Sonnets
    A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem that usually makes use of the metrical pattern of iambic pentameter.
  • Surrealism
    Surrealism refers to a movement of literature, art, and drama in which creators chose to incorporated dreams and the unconscious, and fuse(...)
  • Symbolism
    Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas or meanings. They are imbued with certain qualities often only interpretable through context.
  • Syncope
    Syncope refers to a literary device that involves the shortening of a word by removing or omitting letters.
  • t
  • Tanka Poetry
    A tanka poem is an important form in Japanese poetry that follows a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7.
  • Terza Rima
    Terza rima refers to a very specific rhyme scheme that follows the rhyming pattern of ABA BCB DED.
  • The pot calling the kettle black
    “The pot calling the kettle black” is used to remind someone that they’re guilty of the same thing they’re accusing another of.
  • The world is your oyster
    "The world is your oyster" is an idiom used to refer to the unlimited possiblites one has in front of them.
  • Third Person Point of View
    The third person narrative perspective is a literary style in which the narrator tells a story about a variety of characters. 
  • Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones
    “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is used to remind people not to criticize others for a flaw that you yourself possess.
  • Time flies when you’re having fun
    "Time flies when you're having fun" refers to the phenomenon that time appears to pass more quickly when engaged in something they enjoy.
  • Time is money
    “Time is money” suggests that wasted time is wasted money. If one is wasting time, they’re missing out on an opportunity to make money.
  • Tmesis
    Tmesis is a rhetorical devces that invloves inserting a word inbetween a compound word or phrase.
  • Tone
    Tone tells us how the writer feels about the text, at least to an extent. All forms of writing, aside from the academic have a tone of some sort.
  • Tragedy
    The word “tragedy” refers to a type of drama that explores serious, sometimes dark, and depressing subject matter.
  • Tragic Flaw
    A tragic flaw is a literary device that is used by writers to complicate their characters. Flaws include pride, envy, and cowardice.
  • Transcendentalism
    The most important part of Transcendentalism is the focus on nature and opposition to the destruction of the individual that came with industrialism.
  • Trimeter
    Trimeter is one type of meter used in poetry, in which each line has three metrical feet. 
  • Trochee
    Trochees are the exact opposite of iambic pentameter, meaning that the first syllable is stressed and the second is unstressed.
  • Trope
    A trope, in literature, is the use of figurative language to make descriptions more evocative and interesting.
  • Tuffet
    A tuffet is “a tuft or clump of something” or "a footstool or low seat”.
  • Two peas in a pod
    Two peas in a pod is used to refer to how close two people are to one another.
  • u
  • Unreliable Narrator
    An unreliable narrator is a narrator whose credibility is in doubt, or somehow compromised.
  • Utopia
    The word “utopia” refers to a perfect, or nearly perfect, place or ideal. 
  • v
  • Vignette
    A vignette is a short scene within a larger narrative. They are found in novels, short stories, poems, and films.
  • Villanelle
    A villanelle is a nineteen-line poem that is divided into five tercets or sets of three lines, and one concluding quatrain, or set of four lines.
  • Volta
    A volta is a turn or transition in a sonnet’s main argument, theme, or tone. There are Petrarchan and Shakespearean voltas.
  • w
  • Waste not, want not
    “Waste not, want not” asks everyone to pay attention to what they “waste” as that waste might lead to “want.”
  • y
  • You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar
    “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” refers to one's ability to succeed with sweetness over cruelty or unpleasantness.
  • You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs
    “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs” implies that breaking eggs, or making sacrifices, is necessary for success.
  • z
  • Zoomorphism
    Zoomorphism describes how non-human animal traits are given to humans, events and forces.

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