literary terms

  1. onomatopoeia
    - use of words to imitate sounds, i.e. bang, hiss, pop, sizzle
  2. Formal diction
    • uses elaborate, polysyllabic words - it might be difficult for some readers to
    • understand; look for complex words and use a dictionary to define and understand them. After
    • determining the meaning, paraphrase the passage to better understand it.
  3. Neutral diction
    uses standard language and vocabulary without elaborate words and may include contractions.
  4. Informal or low diction
    the language of everyday use. It is relaxed and conversational. It often includes common and simple words, idioms, slang, jargon and contractions.
  5. Slang
    refers to a group of recently coined words often used in informal situations - they come and go quickly, passing in and out of usage within months or years.
  6. Colloquial expressions
    are nonstandard, often regional, ways of using language appropriate to informal or conversational speech and writing. One example is "y'all".
  7. Jargon
    consists of words and expressions characteristic of a particular trade, profession, 9or pursuit.
  8. Dialect
    is a nonstandard subgroup of a language with its own vocabulary and grammatical features. Writers often use regional dialects or dialects that reveal a person's economic or social class.
  9. Concrete diction
    consists of specific words that describe physical qualities or conditions.
  10. Abstract diction
    refers to language that denotes ideas, emotions, conditions, or concepts that are intangible. These are words such as impenetrable, incredible, inscrutable, inconceivable, and unfathomable.
  11. Denotation
    is the exact, literal definition of a word independent of any emotional association or secondary meaning.
  12. Connotation
    is the implicit rather than explicit meaning of a word and consists of the suggestions, associations, and emotional overtones attached to a word. For example house and home - one is a structure, but one connotes safety, coziness, and security.
  13. Irony
    A contrast between appearance and reality – usually one in which reality is the opposite from what it seems.
  14. Rising Action
    The action and events that take place in the story and build up to the critical moment when the main conflict is confronted.
  15. Character vs. Self
    When a character must make a decision about a problem or struggle he is having within himself.
  16. Figures of Speech
    Words or phrases that describe one thing in terms of something else; always involve some sort of imaginary comparison between seemingly unlike things; not meant to be taken literally.
  17. Theme
    A central message or insight into life revealed through the literary work. A lesson about life of people.
  18. Falling Action
    Events that occur after the climax and lead up to closure and conclusion of the story.
  19. Suspense
    The quality that makes the reader uncertain or tense about the outcome of events.
  20. Character vs. Society
    When a character has a problem with a tradition or rule of society.
  21. Connotation
    The emotions or associations a word normally arouses in people using, hearing, or reading the word.
  22. Simile
    A comparison of two different things or ideas through the use of the words “like” or “as”.
  23. Point of View
    perspective from which a story is told.
  24. Hyperbole
    A deliberate, extravagant and often outrageous exaggeration; may be used for either serious or comic effect.
  25. Denotation
    The specific dictionary definition of a word.
  26. Tone
    The writer’s attitude or feeling toward a person, a thing, a place, an event or situation.
  27. Character vs. Character
    When a character has a problem with another character.
  28. Personification
    Writing that gives animals, inanimate objects, or abstract ideas human characteristics.
  29. Symbol
    The use of any object, person, place or action that both has a meaning in itself and that stands for something larger than itself, such as quality, attitude, belief, or value.
  30. Character vs. Nature
    When a character has a problem with a force of nature such as cold, storms, earthquakes, etc.
  31. Conflict
    A struggle between two opposing forces.
  32. Character vs. Fate
    When a character has a problem with something he can’t do anything about, such as God, luck, death, etc.
  33. Climax
    The most critical moment in the story; the point at which the tension is at its highest point.
  34. Protagonist
    The central character, and focus of interest who is trying to accomplish or overcome adversity, and has the ability to adapt to new circumstances.
  35. Antagonist
    The character opposing the protagonist; this can be a person, idea, or force.
  36. Metaphor
    A comparison of two unlike things not using “like” or “as”.
  37. Imagery
    The words or phrases a writer uses to represent persons, objects, actions, feelings, and ideas descriptively by appealing to the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch).
  38. Archetype
    A type of character, action, or situation that occurs over and over in literature; a pattern or example that occurs in literature and life.
  39. Motivation
    A reason that explains a character’s thoughts, feelings, actions, or behavior.
  40. Plot
    The sequence of events or actions in a short story, novel, play or narrative poem.
  41. foreshadowing
    The use of clues that suggest events that have yet to occur.
  42. Characterization
    The methods used by an author to create a character, including: physical appearance, speech, thoughts, actions, and/or feelings, other characters’ speech, thoughts, actions, and/or feelings, direct comments by the author about the character.
  43. Diction
    Word choice. An author often chooses a word because it suggests a connotative meaning that comes from its use in various social contexts.
  44. Idiom
    An accepted phrase or expression having a meaning different from the literal.
  45. Mood
    The feeling created in the reader by a literary work or passage.
  46. Exposition
    The author lays the groundwork for the story by revealing the setting, relationships between the characters, and situation as it exists before the conflict begins.
  47. Setting
    The background against which action takes place: geographical location, occupations, time, and period, general environment.
Card Set
literary terms
literary terms