Literary Terms and Rhetorical Devices Allusion An expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference Generally a figure of speech making reference to a known place, event, literary work Example: an allusion to Shakespeare, “He was a real Romeo with the ladies. ” Synonyms: hint, reference, innuendo, insinuation Clich?© A worn out expression that takes place of an original thought; a phrase or expression that is overused or used out of context, so that its original impact and meaning are lost Repeated regularly without thought or originality, “ready-made phrases”
Example: to make a long story short, be-all and the end-all Synonyms: stereotype, platitude (obvious remark) Deduction A method of reasoning from the general to the specific; or from cause to effect A kind of logic that accepts a general principal as true, then uses it to explain a specific case or cases Example: mfou’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? YouVe beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you couldVe put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
But, youVe also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me. ” (Vizzini, The Princess Bride) Synonyms: inference, conclusion Induction A method of reasoning that moves from specific instances to a general conclusion A kind of logic that derives a general principle from a specific example Example: I lent Brad $25 and he hasn’t paid me back. I shouldn’t lend my friends money because they’ll never pay me back.
Synonyms: rationalization, logical reasoning Anecdote A short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person Always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons Example: told anecdotes about his Job, in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” Synonyms: story, Joke, account Colloquialism A word or phrase that is not formal or literary, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation Example: he really grinds my beans, Oh my god, pal Synonyms: slang, expressions Concrete Factual and specific, particular examples; not abstract or imaginary Example: I was orn in Canada in the year of 1996.
Synonyms: tangible, real, actual, specific Abstract Theoretical, rely more on general than specific facts Existing in thought or as an idea but not having physical or concrete existence; dealing with ideas rather than events Example: abstract concepts such as love or beauty, theories Synonyms: theoretical, idea Euphemism A mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing A polite expression that softens or conceals the truth
Example: downsizing as a euphemism for cuts, passed away as a euphemism for died Synonyms: indirect, mild, rhetoric Epigram A pithy saying or remark expressing an idea in a clever or amusing way A brief, clever, and usually memorable statement Example: “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” or “l can resist everything except temptation” (Oscar Wilde) Synonyms: quip, pithy saying, motto, aphorism Epigraph A short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or other piece of writing, intended to suggest its theme May serve as a preface, as a summary, as a counter- xample Example: quotes ot death and triendsnip as a pretace tor Harry Potter and t Deathly Hallows, “Once upon a time… Synonyms: inscription, motto, preface Allegory A story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one Conveying a meaning other than the literal Example: Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel, often thought to have biblical parallels Synonyms: parable Simile A figure of speech involving the comparison of on thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (usually formed ith ‘like’ or ‘as’) Example: as brave as a lion, crazy like a fox Synonyms: comparison Hyperbole Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally May be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression Example: “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No. This hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, make the green one red. ” (Macbeth) Synonyms: exaggeration, overstatement Personification The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman Example: “love-devouring death do what he dare” (Romeo & Juliet) Synonyms: embodiment Image Mental picture triggered by words A word or phrase in a literary text that appeals directly to the reader’s taste, touch, hearing, sight or smell; any vivid or picturesque phrase that evokes a particular sensation in a reader’s mind Example: “The Sea had shells of different colours of blue white and green. Synonyms: visualize, imagine, conceive of Irony The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect When the full significance of a haracter’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character Example: the prophecies of the witches in Macbeth were all ironic paradoxes Synonyms: sarcasm Onomatopoeia The formation of a word, from the sound associated with what it is named Example: cuckoo, moo, snap, crash Pun A Joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings A humorous play on words Example: “Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance. ” “Not l, believe me. You have ancing shoes, with nimble soles; I have a soul of lead. ” (Romeo & Juliet) Synonyms: wordplay, quibble Paradox A statement that despite seeming absurd or self-contradictory, may prove to be well founded or true Example: only when you step back from something will you reap its rewards Sarcasm The use of irony to mock or convey contempt Witty language used to convey insults or scorn; criticism Example: When Mark Antony gives a speech at the funeral of Caesar, he repeats the phrase “honourable man” several times speaking of Brutus whose actions (murdering Caesar) have been anything but honourable.
The repetition has the effect of inverting its literal meaning Synonyms: irony, insult, scorn, taunt Satire The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of politics and other topical issues The intent of shaming individuals and society itself into improvement Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell is satiric of Soviet Russia, Lord of the Flies is a satirical look at the breakdown of humanity when the rules are removed Subjective Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions Dependent on the mind or an individual’s perception for its existence Example: art and poetry is subjective as experiences can distinguish different meanings for both Synonyms: personal Symbol A thing that represents or stands tor something else Example: piggys glasses represented knowledge, blood on lady Macbeths hands represented guilt Synonyms: sign Tone The attitude toward the subject and toward the audience implied in a literary work The manner of the writer towards a subject or topic
Example: solemn, sombre, playful; whimsical, magical, dreamy tone in The Tempest Metaphor A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable Literally false, but poetically true Example: her eyes were glistening Jewels Synonyms: image, comparison Jargon Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand Examples: medical Jargon, legal Jargon, LOL Synonyms: lingo, slang Foreshadowing Be a warning or indication of a future event When an event signifies what will happen later Example: “If he be married. My grave is like to be my wedding bed” (Romeo & Juliet) Synonyms: prophecy Oxymoron A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction Example: “Parting is such sweet sorrow. ” (Romeo & Juliet) Connotation An idea or feeling that a word invokes, in addition to its literal or primary meaning The abstract meaning or intension of a term Example: the word rose signifies passion Synonyms: to imply Denotation The literal or primary meaning or a word Example: the word rose means a specific flower Synonyms: indication