AP Lit-rhetorical terms and figurative language devices

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Last updated: May 14, 2019
the problem or occasion for change that causes someone to speak.

Why the author is writing.

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one’s listener or readership; those to whom a speech or piece of writing is addressed

one’s intention or objective in a speech or piece of writing. What the author is trying to accomplish

The appeal of a text to the credibility and character of the speaker, writer, or narrator

a quality that arouses emotions (especially pity or sorrow)

an appeal based on logic or reason

the manner in which words are arranged into sentences

the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation or event

phrases or sentences of a similar construction/meaning placed side by side, balancing each other

the repeated use of the same word or word pattern as a rhetorical device

special set of synonyms in which the meaning of the specific word includes the meaning of the more general word. ex: went, walked, staggered

symbolism; one thing is used as a substitute for another with which it is closely identified (the White House)

A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general (as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), or the material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).

Ad Hominem
In an argument, this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent’s ideas. It comes from the Latin meaning “against the man.”

the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of consecutive lines or sentences

the presentation of two contrasting ideas. The ideas are balanced by phrase, clause, or paragraphs.

“To be or not to be . . .” “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times .

. .” “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country .

. .”

When the conjunctions (such as “and” or “but”) that would normally connect a string of words, phrases, or clauses are omitted from a sentence ex: I came, I saw, I conquered

An indirect, less offensive way of saying something that is considered unpleasant ex: “bit the dust” instead of “died”

abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will

a figure of speech in which one directly addresses an absent or imaginary person, or some abstraction

a pause or break within a line of poetry

End Rhyme
Rhyme that occurs at the end of two or more lines of poetry

a run-on line of poetry in which logical and grammatical sense carries over from one line into the next

Extended Metaphor
The comparison between two things is continued beyond the first point of comparison. This extends and deepens a description.

a figure of speech that uses exaggeration to express strong emotion, make a point, or evoke humor

Internal Rhyme
when two words in the same line rhyme

rhythm as given by division into parts of equal time

a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth. ex: No one goes to that restaurant; it’s too crowded.

a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity

an indirect reference to literature, art, history – source is not given, the reader is expected to know it

the opposite of exaggeration.

It is a technique for developing irony and/or humor where one writes or says less than intended.

a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with ‘like’ or ‘as’)

a type of figurative language in which a nonhuman subject is given human characteristics

likeness in some respects between things otherwise different; similarity; comparison

The repetition of one or more phrases or lines at definite intervals in a poem, usually at the end of a stanza

the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry

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