Literary Terminology A-Z (Poetry Words)

A comparison or analogy stated in such a way as to imply that one object is another one, figuratively speaking.

Metaphysical Poetry
Highly intellectual poetry often focusing on a dramatic event, such as damnation, salvation, death, or love.

A recognizable though varying pattern of stressed syllables alternating with syllables of less stress.

Using a vaguely suggestive, physical object to embody a more general idea.

Mock epic
A long, heroicomical poem that merely imitates features of the classical epic.

In literature, a feeling, emotional state, or disposition of mind–especially the predominating atmosphere or tone of a literary work.

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

Narrative poem
A poem that tells a story.

A ________ can come in many forms and styles, both complex and simple, short or long, as long as it tells a story.

The “voice” that speaks or tells a story.

Occasional poem
A poem written or recited to commemorate a specific event such as a wedding, an anniversary, a military victory or failure, a funeral, a holiday, or other notable date.

A set of eight lines that rhyme according to the pattern ABBAABBA. The first part of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet

A long, often elaborate stanzaic poem of varying line lengths and sometimes intricate rhyme schemes dealing with a serious subject matter and treating it reverently.

Off rhyme
Rhymes created out of words with similar but not identical sounds.

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Omniscient point of view
A perspective not limited to a single characters.

The use of sounds that are similar to the noise they represent for a rhetorical or artistic effect.

A type of verbal irony in which the speaker exaggerates, says more than what he or she means. (Hyperbole)

A condensed form of paradox where seemingly contradictory words are joined together. Using contradiction in a manner that oddly makes sense on a deeper level. Simple or joking examples include such _______ as jumbo shrimp, sophisticated rednecks, and military intelligence.

Using contradiction in a manner that oddly makes sense on a deeper level. (Also called Oxymoron)

When the writer establishes similar patterns of grammatical structure and length.

Parallel structure
Repetition of the same pattern of words or phrases within a sentence or passage to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance.

A _______ imitates the serious manner and characteristic features of a particular literary work in order to make fun of those same features.

An artistic composition dealing with the life of shepherds or with a simple, rural existence.

An external representation of oneself which might or might not accurately reflect one’s inner self, or an external representation of oneself that might be largely accurate, but involves exaggerating certain characteristics and minimizing others.

A trope in which abstractions, animals, ideas, and inanimate objects are given human character, traits, abilities, or reactions.

Petrarchan conceit
A conceit used by the Italian poet Petrarch or similar to those he used. Examples include comparing eyes to the stars or sun, hair to golden wires, lips to cherries, women to goddesses, and so on.

Petrarchan sonnet
An eight line stanza (called an octave) followed by a six line stanza (called a sestet).

A variable literary genre characterized by rhythmical patterns of language.

A stanza of four lines, often rhyming in an ABAB pattern.

A line or set of lines at the end of a stanza or section of a longer poem or song–these lines repeat at regular intervals in other stanzas or sections of the same work.

A literary device that repeats the same words or phrases a few times to make an idea clearer.

The outcome or result of a complex situation or sequence of events, an aftermath or resolution that usually occurs near the final stages of the plot. (Denouement)

A matching similarity of sounds in two or more words, especially when their accented vowels and all succeeding consonants are identical.

Rhyme scheme
The pattern of rhyme. The traditional way to mark these patterns of rhyme is to assign a letter of the alphabet to each rhyming sound at the end of each line.

The varying speed, loudness, pitch, elevation, intensity, and expressiveness of speech, especially poetry.

The act of “scanning” a poem to determine its meter.

Second Person Point of View
Employs the pronoun “you”.

The last part of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, it consists of six lines that rhyme with a varying pattern.

Shakespearean sonnet
Three quatrains; each rhymed differently, with a final, independently rhymed couplet that makes an effective, unifying climax to the whole. Its rhyme scheme is abab, cdcd, efef, gg.

Shaped Verse
Poetry that draws much of its power from the way the text appears situated on the page.

An analogy or comparison implied by using an adverb such as like or as, in contrast with a metaphor which figuratively makes the comparison by stating outright that one thing is another thing.

Situational Irony
A trope in which accidental events occur that seem oddly appropriate, such as the poetic justice of a pickpocket getting his own pocket picked.

Slant Rhyme
Rhymes created out of words with similar but not identical sounds.

A lyric poem of fourteen lines, usually in iambic pentameter, with rhymes arranged according to certain definite patterns.

The narrative or elegiac voice in a poem (such as a sonnet, ode, or lyric) that speaks of his or her situation or feelings.

Spenserian Stanza
A nine-line stanza rhyming in an ababbcbcc pattern in which the first eight lines are pentameter and the last line is an alexandrine.

An arrangement of lines of verse in a pattern usually repeated throughout the poem.

A character who is so ordinary or unoriginal that the character seems like an oversimplified representation of a type, gender, class, religious group, or occupation.

Framework of a work of literature; the organization or over-all design of a work.

The author’s words and the characteristic way that writer uses language to achieve certain effects.

A word, place, character, or object that means something beyond what it is on a literal level. For instance, consider the stop sign.

Frequent use of words, places, characters, or objects that mean something beyond what they are on a literal level.

A rhetorical trope involving a part of an object representing the whole, or the whole of an object representing a part.

A rhetorical trope involving shifts in imagery or sensory metaphors.

The orderly arrangement of words into sentences to express ideas

Terza Rima
A three-line stanza form with interlocking rhymes that move from one stanza to the next.

Third Person Point of View
The narrator seems to be someone standing outside the story who refers to all the characters by name or as he, she, they, and so on

The means of creating a relationship or conveying an attitude or mood.

A two-syllable unit or foot of poetry consisting of a heavy stress followed by a light stress.

Stating something to make it seem less than it is.

Verbal Irony
A trope in which a speaker makes a statement in which its actual meaning differs sharply from the meaning that the words ostensibly express.

The sense that what one reads is “real,” or at least realistic and believable.

Literally, the making of verse, the term is often used as another name for prosody.

A versital genre of poetry consisting of nineteen lines–five tercets and a concluding quatrain.

The narrative or elegiac voice in a poem (such as a sonnet, ode, or lyric) that speaks of his or her situation or feelings.

The term loosely describes any writing in verse or prose that has a double meaning.

Repeating a consonant sound in close proximity to others, or beginning several words with the same vowel sound.

A casual reference in literature to a person, place, event, or another passage of literature, often without explicit identification.

Repeating the last word of a clause at the beginning of the next clause.

A foot or unit of poetry consisting of two light syllables followed by a single stressed syllable.

The intentional repetition of beginning clauses in order to create an artistic effect.

A rhetorical scheme involving repetition in reverse order.

A brief, cleverly worded statement that makes a wise observation about life.

The act of addressing some abstraction or personification that is not physically present.

An original model or pattern from which other later copies are made, especially a character, an action, or situation that seems to represent common patterns of human life.

Repeating identical or similar vowels (especially in stressed syllables) in nearby words.

A person’s consistently favorable or unfavorable evaluations, feelings, and tendencies toward an object or idea.

Any song that tells a story are loosely.

Ballad Stanza
A four-line stanza, known as a quatrain, consisting of alternating eight- and six-syllable lines.

Blank Verse
Unrhymed lines of ten syllables each with the even-numbered syllables bearing the accents.

A pause separating phrases within lines of poetry.

A portrait (verbal or otherwise) that exaggerates a facet of personality.

A literary scheme in which the author introduces words or concepts in a particular order, then later repeats those terms or similar ones in reversed or backwards order.

Characteristic of ordinary conversation rather than formal speech or writing.

An elaborate or unusual comparison.

The opposition between two characters.

The extra tinge or taint of meaning each word carries beyond the minimal, strict definition found in a dictionary.

A special type of alliteration in which the repeated pattern of consonants is marked by changes in the intervening vowels.

Two lines of the same metrical length that end in a rhyme to form a complete unit.

A three-syllable foot consisting of a heavy stress and two light stresses.

The minimal, strict definition of a word as found in a dictionary, disregarding any historical or emotional connotation.

The language of a particular district, class, or group of persons.

The lines spoken by a character or characters.

The choice of a particular word as opposed to others.

Dramatic Irony
A situation in which the reader knows something about present or future circumstances that the character does not know.

Dramatic Monologue
A poem in which a poetic speaker addresses either the reader or an internal listener at length.

Any poem written in elegiac meter.

Elizabethan Sonnet
A sonnet consisting of three quatrains and a couplet.

End Rhyme
Rhyme in which the last word at the end of each verse is the word that rhymes.

End-Stopped Rhyme
A line ending in a full pause, often indicated by appropriate punctuation such as a period or semicolon.

English Sonnet
A Shakespearean sonnet.

A line having no pause or end punctuation but having uninterrupted grammatical meaning continuing into the next line.

A genre of classical poetry.

An inscription in verse or prose on a building, tomb, or coin.

Repetition of a concluding word or word endings.

An inscription carved on a gravestone.

A short, poetic nickname attached to the normal name.

Using a mild or gentle phrase instead of a blunt, embarrassing, or painful one.

Describes something as larger or wildly different than it actually is.

Extended Metaphor
A metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work.

Figurative Language
A deviation from what speakers of a language understand as the ordinary or standard use of words in order to achieve some special meaning or effect.

First Person Point of View
A character in the story telling the story himself/herself.

Folk Ballad
A narrative poem designed to be sung, composed by an anonymous author, and transmitted orally for years or generations before being written down.

Folk Tale
Folktales are stories passed along from one generation to the next by word-of-mouth rather than by a written text.

A basic unit of meter consisting of a set number of strong stresses and light stresses.

The result of inserting one or more small stories within the body of a larger story that encompasses the smaller ones.

Free Verse
Poetry based on the natural rhythms of phrases and normal pauses rather than the artificial constraints of metrical feet.

Heroic Couplet
Two successive rhyming lines of iambic pentameter.

A Renaissance intellectual and artistic movement triggered by a “rediscovery” of classical Greek and Roman language, culture, and literature.

Anything that causes laughter or amusement.

The trope of exaggeration or overstatement.

A unit or foot of poetry that consists of a lightly stressed syllable followed by a heavily stressed syllable.

Iambic Pentameter
A lightly stressed syllable followed by a heavily stressed syllable.

A common term of variable meaning, imagery includes the “mental pictures” that readers experience with a passage of literature.

Informal Diction
Language that is not as lofty or impersonal as formal diction; similar to everyday speech.

Interior Monologue
The mental dialogue that occurs within a character’s head.

Internal Conflict
A struggle between opposing needs, desires, or emotions within a single character.

Internal Rhyme
A poetic device in which a word in the middle of a line rhymes with a word at the end of the same metrical line.

Saying one thing and meaning another.

Italian Sonnet
A Petrarchan sonnet.

Potentially confusing words and phrases used in an occupation, trade, or field of study.

The arrangement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or words side-by-side or in similar narrative moments for the purpose of comparison, contrast, rhetorical effect, suspense, or character development.

Limited Point of View
A narrator who is confined to what is experienced, thought, or felt by a single character, or at most a limited number of characters.

A form of meiosis using a negative statement.

A short poem written in a repeating stanzaic form.

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Literary Terminology A-Z (Poetry Words). (2017, Dec 18). Retrieved from

Literary Terminology A-Z (Poetry Words)
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