Key Terms English
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Alliteration – The repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables, as in “on scrolls of silver snowy sentences” (Hart Crane). Modern alliteration is predominantly consonantal; certain literary traditions, such as Old English verse, also alliterate using vowel sounds.
Anaphora – The deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs; for example, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills” (Winston S. Churchill).
Linguistics. The use of a linguistic unit, such as a pronoun, to refer back to another unit, as the use of her to refer to Anne in the sentence Anne asked Edward to pass her the salt.
Antithesis – Direct contrast; opposition.
-The direct or exact opposite: Hope is the antithesis of despair.
A figure of speech in which sharply contrasting ideas are juxtaposed in a balanced or parallel phrase or grammatical structure, as in “Hee for God only, shee for God in him” (John Milton).
The second and contrasting part of such a juxtaposition.
-The second stage of the Hegelian dialectic process, representing the opposite of the thesis.
Apotheosis – Exaltation to divine rank or stature; deification.
Elevation to a preeminent or transcendent position; glorification: “Many observers have tried to attribute Warhols current apotheosis to the subversive power of artistic vision” (Michiko Kakutani).
An exalted or glorified example: Their leader was the apotheosis of courage.
Blank verse – Verse consisting of unrhymed lines, usually of iambic pentameter.
Caesura – A pause in a line of verse dictated by sense or natural speech rhythm rather than by metrics.
A pause or interruption, as in conversation: After another weighty caesura the senator resumed speaking.
In Latin and Greek prosody, a break in a line caused by the ending of a word within a foot, especially when this coincides with a sense division.
Music. A pause or breathing at a point of rhythmic division in a melody.
Elegaic – Of, relating to, or involving elegy or mourning or expressing sorrow for that which is irrecoverably past: an elegiac lament for youthful ideals.
Of or composed in elegiac couplets.
Enjambement – The continuation of a syntactic unit from one line or couplet of a poem to the next with no pause.
Epic – An extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero.
A literary or dramatic composition that resembles an extended narrative poem celebrating heroic feats.
A series of events considered appropriate to an epic: the epic of the Old West.
Epic Simile – An extended simile elaborated in great detail. Also called Homeric simile.
A short poem or speech spoken directly to the audience following the conclusion of a play.
The performer who delivers such a short poem or speech.
A short addition or concluding section at the end of a literary work, often dealing with the future of its characters. Also called afterword.
A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.
January 6, on which this feast is traditionally observed.
A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.
A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier).
Heroic couplet – A verse unit consisting of two rhymed lines in iambic pentameter
Hyperbole – A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or This book weighs a ton.
Hypothesis – A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.
Something taken to be true for the purpose of argument or investigation; an assumption.
The antecedent of a conditional statement.
Invective – Denunciatory or abusive language; vituperation.
Denunciatory or abusive expression or discourse.
Invocation – The act or an instance of invoking, especially an appeal to a higher power for assistance.
A prayer or other formula used in invoking, as at the opening of a religious service.
The act of conjuring up a spirit by incantation.