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50 Literary Devices (Definitions) – BC English 12 Provincial Exam Review

alliteration
the repetition of the initial consonant sound in words

assonance
the repetition of vowel sounds

consonance
the repetition of consonant sounds in the middle or at the end of words

enjambment
when the writer uses line breaks meaningfully and abruptly to either emphasize a point or to create dual meanings

imagery
when the writer or speaker uses their descriptions to access the senses of the reader of listener

repetition
when the writer or speaker knowingly repeats a word or group of words for effect

rhyme
when the end or final sound of two or more words are identical

rhythm
when the arrangement of words creates an audible pattern or beat when read out loud

onomatopoeia
when the words sound like what they mean

idiom
an accepted phrase or expression having a meaning different from the literal

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

metaphor
a comparison between two unlike things

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

personification
representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature

meter
a pattern of stressed/unstressed syllables in poetry

end rhyme
rhyme that occurs at the end of two or more lines of poetry

allegory
a story, play, or picture in which characters or settings are used as symbols or abstract ideas

allusion
a reference to something literary, mythological, or historical that the author assumes the reader will recognize

slant rhyme
two words that have some sound in common but do not rhyme exactly

tone
the attitude a writer takes towards a subject, character, or the reader

internal rhyme
rhyme that occurs within a line, rather than at the end

diction
a writer’s or speaker’s choice of words

oxymoron
an expression in which two words that contradict each other are joined

cacophony
loud, harsh, or disagreeable sounds

blank verse
poetic form written in unrhymed iambic pentameter

free verse
poetic form that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme

ballad
a type of poem that is meant to be sung and is both lyric and narrative in nature

colloquial language
informal language; language that is “conversational”

euphemism
an indirect, less offensive way of saying something that is considered unpleasant

elegy
A sad or mournful poem, especially one mourning the dead

irony
a contrast between what is expected and what actually exists or happens

foil
two characters that highlight each other by their differences

foreshadowing
the use of hints and clues to suggest what will happen later in a plot

juxtaposition
placing two elements side by side to present a comparison or contrast

lyric
a short poem of songlike quality

monologue
a speech made by one actor or speaker

ode
a poem usually addressed to a particular person, object or event that has stimulated deep and noble feelings in the poet

paradox
an apparently contradictory statement that actually contains some truth

pun
a play on words, often achieved through the use of words with similar sounds but different meanings

rhetorical question
a question asked for an effect, not actually requiring an answer

sarcasm
harsh words intended to hurt someone

satire
a literary work that ridicules or criticizes a human vice through humor or derision

symbol
something that stands for or represents something else

understatement
saying less than one means, for effect

wit
intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights

stream of consciousness
a style of writing in which the author tries to reproduce the random flow of thoughts in the human mind

sonnet
Fourteen-line poem that is usually written in iambic pentameter and has one of several rhyme schemes.

epiphany
a moment of sudden realization or insight

epitaph
an inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried there

atmosphere
The emotional mood created by a literary work

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