Important Words for Language Arts Students to Know

Alliteration: the repetition of the same sounds-usually initial consonants of words or of stressed syllables-in any sequence of neighboring words: ‘Landscape-lover, lord of language” (Tennyson).

Allusion: an indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work, the nature or relevance of which is not explained by the writer but relies on the reader’s familiarity with what is thus mentioned.

Analogy: A comparison of similar things, often for the purpose of using something familiar to explain something unfamiliar. For example, the branching of a river system is often explained by comparing it to a tree. The work of the heart is explained by comparing it to a pump. +

Assonance: The close repetition of middle vowel sounds between different consonant sounds: fade/pale +

Cliché: a trite or overused expression or idea; A person or character whose behavior is predictable or superficial*

Colloquialism: the use of informal expressions appropriate to everyday speech rather than to the formality of writing, and differing in pronunciation, vocabulary, or grammar.

Connotation: the range of further associations that a word or phrase suggests in addition to its straightforward dictionary meaning. (The opposite of denotation.)

Consonance: The close repetition of identical consonant sounds before and after differing vowel sounds: leave/love, shirt/short….ping/pong…tip/top +

Denotation: the most specific or direct meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings.*

Ellipsis or ellipse: the omission from a sentence of a word or words that would be required for complete clarity but which can usually be understood from the context.

Euphemism: the act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive: “Euphemisms such as ‘slumber room’... abound in the funeral business” (Jessica Mitford).*

Expository: a setting forth of meaning or intent; a statement or rhetorical discourse intended to give information about or an explanation of difficult material; The art or technique of composing such discourses.*

Hyperbole: exaggeration for the sake of emphasis in a figure of speech not meant literally. (I’ve been waiting here for ages.)

Interior monologue: the written representation of a character’s inner thoughts, impressions, and memories as if directly ‘overheard’ without the apparent interventions of a summarizing and selecting narrator.

Irony: a subtly humorous perception of inconsistency, in which an apparently straightforward statement or event is undermined by its context so as to give it a very different significance.

Types- Verbal irony: it involves a dispute between what is said and what is really meant. Dramatic irony: The audience knows more about a character’s situation that the character does, foreseeing an outcome contrary to the character’s expectations, and thus ascribing a sharply different sense to some of the characters’ own statements.

Juxtaposition: the state of being placed or situated side by side.*

Metaphor:one thing, idea, or action is referred to by a word or expression normally denoting another thing, idea, or action, so as to suggest some common quality shared by the two. Extended metaphor: a metaphor that is extended through a stanza or entire poem, often by multiple comparisons of unlike objects or ideas.* Mixed metaphor: a metaphor in which the combination of qualities suggested is illogical or ridiculous, usually as a result of trying to apply two metaphors to one thing.

Motif: a situation, incident, idea, image, or character-type that is found in many different literary works, folktales, or myths; or any element in a work that is elaborated into a more general theme.

Objective: uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices.*

Onomatopoeia: the use of words that seem to imitate the sounds they refer to (whack, fizz, crackle, hiss); or any combination of words in which the sound gives the impression of echoing the sense.

Oxymoron: a figure of speech that combines two usually contradictory terms in a compressed paradox, as in the word bittersweet or the phrase living death.

Paradox: a statement or expression so surprisingly self-contradictory as to provoke us into seeking another sense or context in which it would be true (although some paradoxes cannot be resolved into truths, remaining self-contradictory, e.g. Everything I say is a lie). Wordsworth’s line “The Child is father of the man” is an example.

Parallel construction/ parallelism: the arrangement of similarly constructed clauses, sentences, or verse lines in a pairing or other sequence suggesting some correspondence between them.

Persona: the assumed identity of fictional “I” assumed by a writer in a literary work; thus the speaker in a lyric poem, or the narrator in a fictional narrative.

Prose: the form of written language that is not organized according to the formal patterns of verse…the significant unit being the sentence rather than the line.

Pun: an expression that achieves emphasis or humor by contriving an ambiguity, two distinct meanings being suggested whether by the same word or by two similar-sounding words.

Simile: an explicit comparison between two different things, actions, or feelings, using words ‘as’ or ‘like’.

Stream of consciousness: the continuous flow of sense-perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and memories in the human mind; or a literary method of representing such a blending of mental processes in fictional characters, usually in unpunctuated or disjointed form of interior monologue.

Subjective: taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias.*

Symbol: …anything that stands for or represents something else beyond it-usually an idea conventionally associated with it. Objects like flags and crosses can function symbolically; and words are also symbols.

Synaesthesia: a blending or confusion of different kinds of sense-impression, in which one type of sensation is referred to in terms more appropriate to another. Common synaesthetic expressions include the descriptions of colours as “loud” or “warm”, and sounds as “smooth”.

Syntax: the way in which words and clauses are ordered and connected so as to form sentences; or the set of grammatical rules governing such word-order.

Understatement: a statement that is restrained in ironic contrast to what might have been said [antonym: exaggeration ] *

Parts of speech:

Adjective: A word that modifies a noun or a pronoun. ^

Adverb: A word that modifies a verb, and adjective, or another verb. ^

Conjunction: A word or phrase that connects individual words or groups of words. ^

Interjection: An exclamatory word or phrase that can stand by itself or appear in a sentence and is followed by an exclamation point. ^

Noun: A word that names a person a place a person or idea. ^

Preposition: A word that expresses a relationship between a noun or a pronoun and another word in the sentence. ^

Pronoun: A word that replaces or refers to a noun. ^

Verb: A word that expresses an action or a state of being. ^

  • Most definitions from: The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms by Chris Baldick, 1990, except where noted with an * where definitions are from www.dictionary.com or with a + for NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms by Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch or with a ^ from Houghton Mifflin’s English, 1990.

Terms and Writer's Devices that Language Arts Students Should Know

Alliteration:The repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables.

Ex. 1) “on scrolls of silver snowy sentences” (Hart Crane)

Ex.2) "around the rock the ragged rascal ran"

Allusion: Passing reference or indirect mention.

Ex. 1) Without naming names, the candidate criticized the national leaders by allusion.

Ex. 2) The candidate alluded to the recent war by saying, “We've all made sacrifices.”

Analogy: A comparison of similar things, often for the purpose of using something familiar to explain something unfamiliar. For example, the branching of a river system is often explained by comparing it to a tree. The work of the heart is explained by comparing it to a pump.

  • NTC’s Dictionary of Literary terms by Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch

Assonance: The close repetition of middle vowel sounds between different consonant sounds: fade/pale

  • NTC’s Dictionary of Literary terms by Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch

Cliché: A trite or overused expression or idea; a person or character whose behavior is predictable or superficial.

Ex. 1) There's no place like home.

Ex. 2) Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Colloquialism: A colloquial expression; characteristic of spoken or written communication that seeks to imitate informal speech.

Ex. 1) Mark Twain makes use of colloquialisms in his Huckleberry Finn, such as in the opening line of the story:

“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter.”

·http://www.enotes.com/literary-terms/37734

Connotation: An idea or meaning suggested by or associated with a word or thing

Ex. 1) Hollywood holds connotations of romance and glittering success.

Ex. 2) Red: has a connotation of irritation or anger in certain contexts.

·http://teenwriting.about.com/library/glossary/bldef-connotation.htm

Consonance: The close repetition of identical consonant sounds before and after differing vowel sounds: leave/love, shirt/short….ping/pong…tip/top

·NTC’s Dictionary of Literary terms by Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch

Denotation: The most specific or direct meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings.

Ex. 1) Red: It denotes a particular color.

Ex. 2) if you look up the word snake in a dictionary, you will discover that one of its denotative meanings is "any of numerous scaly, legless, sometimes venomous reptiles having a long, tapering, cylindrical body and found in most tropical and temperate regions." The connotations for the word snake could include evil or danger.

Ellipsis or ellipse: The omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding.

Ex. 1) An example is, “She went to … school.” In this sentence, “…” might represent the word “elementary,” or the word “no.” The use of ellipses can either mislead or clarify, and the reader must rely on the good intentions of the writer who uses it. Omission without indication by an ellipsis is always considered misleading.

An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, or be used at the end of a sentence to indicate a trailing off into silence

Euphemism: an inoffensive expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive

Ex. 1) Restroom for toilet room (the word toilet was itself originally a euphemism).

Ex. 2) Death: Pass Away , Curtains, Kick the Bucket

Expository: A statement or rhetorical discourse intended to give information about or an explanation of difficult material.

Ex. 1) The purpose of expository writing is to explain, clarify, or provide the reader with information. Well-written exposition has a clear, central focus developed through a carefully crafted presentation of examples or definitions that enhance the reader's understanding.

Hyperbole:A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect.

Ex. 1) This book weighs a ton.

Ex. 2) I could sleep for a year.

·http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Hyperbole

Interior Monologue: A passage of writing presenting a character's inner thoughts and emotions in a direct, sometimes disjointed or fragmentary manner.

Ex. 1) The following passage from “Calypso” narrates the beginnings of Bloom’s trip to the butcher’s shop to buy himself breakfast.

On the doorstep he felt in his hip pocket for the latchkey. Not there. In the trousers I left off. Must get it. Potato I have. Creaky wardrobe. No use disturbing her. She turned over sleepily that time. He pulled the hall door to after him very quietly, more, till the footleaf dropped gently over the threshold, a limp lid. Looked shut. All right till I come back anyhow.

He crossed to the bright side, avoiding the loose cellar flap of number seventy five. The sun was nearing the steeple of George’s church. Be a warm day I fancy. Specially in these black clothes feel it more. Black conducts, reflects (refracts is it?), the heat. But I couldn’t go in that light suit. Make a picnic of it. His eyelids sank quietly often as he walked in happy warmth.

Irony: Witty language used to convey insults or scorn.

Ex. 1) In June, 2005, the State of Virginia Employment Agency, which handles unemployment compensation, announced that they would lay off 400 employees for lack of work, because unemployment is so low in the state.

Ex. 2) In Othello, dramatic irony occurs when Othello refers to Iago as “honest Iago.” Unknown to Othello, Iago is a villain who deceives him into thinking that Desdemona (Othello’s wife) has been unfaithful. For this, Othello unjustly kills his wife, believing the whole time in Iago’s honesty.

Juxtaposition: The act of positioning close together (or side by side).

Ex. 1) I had sent from Egypt two Coptic sculptures from the fifth and sixth centuries and placed them in juxtaposition with a contemporary stone mask from Zimbabwe, with striking effect.
--Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Unvanquished: A U.S.-U.N. Saga

Ex. 2) One of the things that made the diary so poignant . . . is the awful juxtaposition of the ordinary and the horrific, the mundane and the unimaginable.
--Michiko Kakutani, "When a Spirited Teen-Ager Faced the Unimaginable,"
New York Times, September 29, 1998

Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison.

Ex. 1) “A sea of troubles” or “All the world's a stage” (Shakespeare).

Ex. 2) “Hollywood has always been an irresistible, prefabricated metaphor for the crass, the materialistic, the shallow, and the craven” (Neal Gabler).

·http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Metaphor

Motif: A conspicuous recurring element, such as a type of incident, a device, a reference, or verbal formula, which appears frequently in works of literature.

Ex. 1) The "loathly lady" who turns out to be a beautiful princess is a common motif in folklore, and the man fatally bewitched by a fairy lady is a common folkloric motif.

Ex. 2) A unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work; "it was the usual `boy gets girl' theme."

·http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Motif

Objective: Undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomenon.

Ex. 1) "an objective appraisal."

·http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Objective

Onomatopoeia: The formation or use of words such as buzz or murmur that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.

Ex. 1) "buzz," "crash," "whirr," "clang" "hiss," "purr," "squeak," "mumble," "hush," "boom."

Oxymoron: A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined.

Ex. 1) A deafening silence, jumbo shrimp and a mournful optimist.

·http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Oxymoron

Paradox: A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.

Ex. 1)The paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.

Ex. 2) The silence of midnight, to speak truly, though apparently a paradox, rung in my ears” (Mary Shelley).

·http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Paradox

Parallel construction/ parallelism: The use of identical or equivalent syntactic constructions in corresponding clauses or phrases.

Ex. 1) We accuse him of having given up his people to the merciless inflictions of the most hard-hearted of prelates - and the defence is that he took his little son on his knee and kissed him. (Macauly)

Ex. 2) We censure him for having violated the articles of the Petition of Right - and we are informed that he was accustomed to hear prayers at six o'clock in the morning." (Macauly)

·http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Parallelism_%28grammar%29

Persona: A voice or character representing the speaker in a literary work.

Ex. 1) With different pieces of writing, you will recreate yourself or display varied aspects of yourself within your writing in different ways. Through your writing, you will create a persona or an "outer personality or facade presented to others by an individual," according to Webster. The persona you decide to present in your writing is often directly determined by the audience you are addressing. One example Doug Hunt demonstrates of a typical persona one writer created was of someone (Valerie Sinzdak) who:

“ . . is broad-minded, well read, alive to irony, concerned about environmental and health issues . . .”

“ . . is will to entertain the idea that people who appear to be eccentric may provide a valuable critique of middle-class values . . . “

“. . . gives the impression she is a sharp observer . . . “

“. . . doesn't lecture or preach . . . “

“. . . and seems more a philosopher than an enthusiast" (Hunt, Riverside Guide to Writing, Every time you write, one of your considerations should be of the persona you wish to display within your writing.”

·http://faculty.millikin.edu/~moconner.hum.faculty.mu/in150/hunt1.html

Pun: A humorous play on words

Ex. 1) What is the purpose of reindeer? It makes the grass grow, sweetie.

Ex. 2) There were two ships. One had red paint, one had blue paint. They collided. At last report, the survivors were marooned.

Simile:A figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with `like' or `as').

Ex. 1) “How like the winter hath my absence been” (Shakespeare).

Ex. 2) “So are you to my thoughts as food to life” (Shakespeare).

Stream of Consciousness:The continuous flow of ideas and feelings that constitute an individual's conscious experience.

Subjective: Proceeding from or taking place in a person's mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.

Ex. 1) "a subjective judgment"

Ex. 2) "a cognition is an immanent act of mind"

Symbol: Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible.

Ex. 1) "the eagle is a symbol of the United States"

Synaesthesia: A condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color.

Ex. 1) Synaesthesia plays a role in the popular song "Lake Shore Drive" by Aliotta, Haynes, and Jeremiah:

Sometimes you can smell the green

When your mind is feeling fine

(—Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah)

Syntax: The study of the rules whereby words or other elements of sentence structure are combined to form grammatical sentences.

Understatement: A statement that is restrained in ironic contrast to what might have been said.

Ex. 1) A commonly cited example is "The Rocky Mountains are scenic."