Most definitions from Poetry Foundation

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Last updated: November 29, 2019

denotation
The dictionary definition of a word
connotation
All the meanings, associations, or emotions that a word suggests
figurative language/figures of speech
non literal use of language/simile, metaphor, symbol etc.
imagery
Elements of a poem that invoke any of the five senses to create a set of mental images. Specifically, using vivid or figurative language to represent ideas, objects, or actions.

Poems that use rich imagery include T.S. Eliot’s “Preludes,” Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind,” Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy,” and Mary Oliver’s “At Black River.

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simile
A comparison (see Metaphor) made with “as,” “like,” or “than.” “What happens to a dream deferred?” asks Langston Hughes in “Harlem”:Does it dry uplike a raisin in the sun?Or fester like a sore—And then run?Does it stink like rotten meat?Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?
metaphor
A comparison that is made directly (for example, John Keats’s “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” from “Ode on a Grecian Urn”) or less directly (for example, Shakespeare’s “marriage of two minds”), but in any case without pointing out a similarity by using words such as “like,” “as,” or “than.” See Sylvia Plath’s description of her dead father as “Marble-heavy, a bag full of God” in “Daddy,” or Emily Dickinson’s “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers— / That perches in the soul—.”
personification
A figure of speech in which the poet describes an abstraction, a thing, or a nonhuman form as if it were a person. William Blake’s “O Rose, thou art sick!” is one example; Donne’s “Death, be not proud” is another.

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