1/2 of AP English Literary Terms

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Last updated: April 30, 2019

Abstract language
language that conveys ideas that are not concrete

Ad-hominid
“argument against the man”; a fallacy that involves replying to an argument or assertion by attempting to discredit the person offering the argument or assertion

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Allegory
a narrative technique in which characters representing things or abstract ideas is used to convey a message or teach a lesson

Allusion
a reference to a familiar literary or historical person or event, used to make an idea more easily understodd

Ambiguity
an expression whose meaning cannot be determined from its context; unclearness by virtue of having more than one meaning

Anachronism
something located at a time when it could not have existed or occured

Analogy
similarity in some respects between things that are otherwise dissimilar

Anaphora
the deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs

Anecdote
a short account of an interesting or humorous incident

Annotation
a critical or explanatory note; a commentary

Antithesis
the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas to give a feeling of balance; direct contrast; opposition

Aphorism
a tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion; and adage

Apostrophe
the direct address of an absent or imaginary person

Aside
a piece of dialogue intended for the audience and supposedly not heard by the ohter actors on stage

Asyndeton
the omission of conjunctions from constructions in which they would narmally be used

Atmosphere
the dominant tone or mood

Attitude
author’s opinion or position reflected in the work

Authority
justification; grounds; an accepted source of expert information

Backing
the part of a book where the pages are stitched or glued together into the binding

Balance
a stable mental or psychological state; a state of equilibrium

Begging the question
Circular reasoning in which one assumes to be true what one is supposed to be proving

Black humor
grotesque or morbid humor used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox, and cruelety of th modern world

Casual relationships
of, involving, or constituting a cause in a relationship; cause and effect relationships

Cacaphony
The use of harsh or discordant sounds in literary composition, as for poetic effect

Cadence
Balances, rhythmic flow, as of poetry or oratory

Canto
One of the principal divisions of a long poem

Chiasmus
An inversion of the order of words or phrases, when repeated or subsequently reffered to in a sentece

Conceit
A fanciful poetic image, especially an elaborate or exaggerated comparison

Colloquial/colloquialism
Characteristic of or appropriate to the spoken language or to writing that seeks the effect of speech; informal

Common knowledge
something that is widely known; mutual understandings

Concrete language
precise words to convey an idea antonym; abstract language

Connotation
an idea or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing

Consonance
the repetition of consonants or of a consonant pattern, especialy at the ends of words, as in blank and think or strong and string

Convention/conventional
a widely used and accepted device or technique, as in drama, literature, or painting; the theatrical convention of the aside

Cumulative
increasing or enlarging by successive addition

Deconstruction
a philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth

Denotation
something signified or reffered to; a particular meaning of a symbol. the most specific or direct meaning of a word

Detail
a minor or an inconswquential item or spect

Devices of sound
examples: alliteration: assonance: onomatopeia

Diction
choice and use of words in speech or writing

Didactic
inclined to teach or moralize excessively

Digression
to stray away from the topic or main subject

Dissonance
a harsh, disagreeable combination of sounds, discord

Dramatic irony
when the reader is aware of an inconsistency between a fictional or non-fictional character’s perception of a situation and the truth of the situation

Either/ or reasoning
when the writer reduces an argument or issue to two polar opposites and ignores any alternatives

Elliptical
sentence structure, which leaves out something in the second structure..

. usually sub/verb in firest sentence..

. second sentence drops the verb

Emotional appeal
when th writer appeals readers or emotions to excite and involve them

Epigram
a concise peom dealig pointedly and often sartirically with a single thought or event and often ending with an ingenious turn of thought

Epigraph
a quotation or aphorism at the beggining of literature works to suggest a theme

Equivocation
when the writer uses two different senses in an argument

Ethical appeal
when the writer tries to persuade the reader to respect him/her based on presentations of image of senf through text

Euphemism
the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant

Euphony
pleasing or sweet sound; produ ed by words so formed or combinded as to please the ear

Explication
the act of interrupting or discovering the meaning of a text- involves close reading and special attention to figurative speech

Exposistion
background info provided by the writer to enhance the readers understanding of the context

False analogy
when two cases are not sufficiently parallel to lead readers to accept a claim of connection for the two

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Fiction
a product of a writers imagination: characters, plot, setting, ect.; described as lied told with the readers consent

Figurative language
a word or words used that are inaccurate literally, but describe by calling hte mind sensations or respondes that are evoked… shown by metaphors and similes

Foil
opposite characters paired together

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freight train
sentence consisting of three or more very short independent clauses joined by conjunctions

generalization
when a writer bases a claim on an isolated example or asserts a claim as certain rather than probable

genre
a category characterized by style, form, or content

grotesque
a style of decorative art that when compared to the natural turns the natural into absurdities or ubliness

hubris
excessive pride or self-conficence that leads a protagonist to desregard a divine warning or to violate an important moral law.

In tragedies, hubris is a very common form of hamartia

hyperbole
conscious exaggeration used to heighten effect. not intended literally, hyperbole is often humorous

imagery
the use of images, espacially in a pattern or related images, often igurate, to create a strong, unified sensory impression

inference/infer
ideas or facts that are implied or suggested rather than stated outright; evidence is usually

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