AP Language Rhetorical Terms

  1. Abstract
    Refers to language that describes concepts rather than concrete images (ideas and qualities rather than observable or specific things, people, or places).
  2. Ad Hominem
    In an argument, this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent's ideas.
  3. Allegory
    An extended narrative in prose or verse in which characters, events, and settings represent abstract qualities and in which the writer intends a second meaning to be read beneath the surface of the story; the underlying meaning maybe moral, religious, political, social, or satiric.
  4. Alliteration
    Repetition of constant sounds at the beginning of words that are close to one another: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck
  5. Allusion
    A reference to a well-known person, place, or a thing from literature, history, etc. 
  6. Analogy
    Comparison of two similar but different things, usually to clarify an action or a relationship, such as comparing the work of a heart to that of a pump.
  7. Anaphora
    Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of the two or more sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer's point more coherent.
  8. Anecdote
    A short, simple narrative of an incident; often used for humorous effect or to make a point.
  9. Annotation
    Explanatory notes added to a text explain, cite sources, or give bibliographical data.
  10. Antithesis
    The presentation of two contrasting images. The ideas are balanced by word, phrase, clause, or paragraphs. 
  11. Aphorism
    A short, often witty statement of a principle or a truth about life.
  12. Apostrophe
    Usually in poetry but sometimes in prose; the device of calling out to an imaginary, dead, or absent person or to a place, thing, or personified abstraction.
  13. Argumentation
    Writing that attempts to prove the validity of a point of view or an idea by presenting reasoned argument; persuasive writing is a form of argumentation.
  14. Assonance
    Repetition of vowel sounds between different consonants, such as in neigh/fade.
  15. Asyndeton
    Commas used (with no conjunction) to separate a series of words. The parts are emphasized equally when the conjunction is omitted; in addition, the use if commas with no intervening conjunction speeds up the flow of the sentence. Asyndeton takes the form of X, Y, Z as opposed to X, Y, and Z.
  16. Cacophony
    Harsh, awkward, or dissonant sounds used to deliberately in poetry or prose; the opposite of euphony.
  17. Caricature
    Descriptive writing that greatly exaggerates a specific feature or a person's appearance  or a facet of personality.
  18. Colloquialism
    A word or phrase (including slang) used in everyday conversation and informal writing but that is often inappropriate in formal writing (y'all, ain't
  19. Coherence
    Quality of a piece of writing in which all the parts contribute to the development of the central idea, theme, or organizing principle.
  20. Concrete Language
    Language that describes specific, observable things, people, or places, rather than ideas or qualities.
  21. Connotation
    Implied or suggested meaning of a word because of its association in the reader's mind.
  22. Consonance
    Repetition of identical consonant sounds within two or more words in close proximity, as in boost/best; it can also be seen within several compound words, such as fulfill and ping-pong.
  23. Conundrum
    A riddle whose answer is or involves a pun; it may also be a paradox or difficult problem.
  24. Deduction
    The process of moving from a general rule to a specific example.
  25. Denotation
    Literal meaning of a word as defined.
  26. Description
    The picturing in words of something or someone through the detailed observation of color, motion, sound, taste, smell, and touch; one of the four modes of discourse.
  27. Diction
    Word choice, an element of style; it creates tone, attitude, and style, as well as meaning. Different types and arrangements of words have significant effects on meaning. An essay written in academic _________ would be much less colorful, but perhaps more precise than street slang.
  28. Didactic
    Writing whose purpose is to instruct or to teach. The work is usually formal and focuses on moral or ethical concerns. This type of writing may be fiction or nonfiction that teaches a specific lesson or moral or provides a model of correct behavior or thinking.
  29. Discourse
    Spoken or written language, including literary works; the four traditionally classified modes of ________ are description, exposition, narration and persuasion.
  30. Dissonance
    Harsh or grating sounds that do not go together.
  31. Dramatic Irony
    When the reader is aware of an inconsistency between a fictional or nonfictional character's perception of a situation and the truth of that situation.
  32. Emotional Appeal
    When a writer appeals to readers' emotions (often through pathos) to excite and involve them in the argument.
  33. Epigraph
    The use of a quotation at the beginning of a work that hints at its theme. Hemingway begins The Sun Also Rises with two quotations.
  34. Epistrophe
    Repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect (as Lincoln's "of the people, by the people, for the people").
  35. Ethical Appeal
    When a writer tries to persuade the audience to respect and believe him or her based on a presentation of images of self through the text. Reputation is sometimes a factor in this type of appeal, but in all cases the aim is to gain the audience's confidence.
  36. Euphemism
    A more acceptable and usually more pleasant way of saying something that might be inappropriate or uncomfortable. Often used to obscure the reality of a situation.
  37. Euphony
    A succession of harmonious sounds used in poetry or prose; the opposite of cacophony.
  38. Example
    An individual instance taken to be representative of a general pattern.
  39. Explication
    The art of interpreting or discovering the meaning of a text. It usually involves close reading and special attention to figurative language.
  40. Exposition
    The immediate revelation to the audience of the setting and other background information necessary for understanding the plot; also, explanation; one of the four modes of discourse.
  41. Extended Metaphor
    A sustained comparison, often referred to as a conceit. The extended metaphor is developed through a piece of writing.
  42. False Analogy
    When two cases are not sufficiently parallel to lead readers to accept a claim of connection between them.
  43. Figurative Language
    Language the contains figures or speech, such as similes and metaphors, in order to create associations that are imaginative rather than literal.
  44. Figures of Speech
    Expressions, such as similes, metaphors, and personifications, that make imaginative, rather than literal, comparisons or associations.
  45. Foreshadowing
    The use of a hint or clue to suggest a larger event that occurs late in the work.
  46. Freight-Train
    Sentence consisting of three or more very short independent clauses joined by conjunctions.
  47. Generalization
    When a writer bases a claim upon an isolated example or asserts that a claim is certain rather than probable.
  48. Genre
    A type of literal work, such as novel or poem; there are also sub genres, such as science fiction or sonnet, within larger genres.
  49. Hubris
    The excessive pride of ambition that leads a tragic hero to disregard warnings of impending doom, eventually causing his/her downfall.
  50. Humor
    Anything that causes laughter or amusement; up until the end of the Renaissance, humor meant a person's temperature.
  51. Hyperbole
    Deliberate exaggeration in order to create humor or emphasis.
  52. Image
    A word or words, either figurative or literal, used to describe a sensory experience or an object perceived by the sense.
  53. Imagery
    Words or phrases that use a collection of images to appeal to one or more of the five senses in order to create a mental picture.
  54. Induction
    The process that moves from a given series of specifics to generalization.
  55. Inference
    A conclusion one can draw from the presented details.
  56. Interior Monologue
    Writing that records the conversation that occurs inside a character's head
  57. Invective
    A verbally abusive attack.
  58. Inversion
    Reversing the customary (subject first, then verb, then complement) order of elements in a sentence of phrase; it is used effectively in many cases, such as posing a question.
  59. Irony
    A situation or statement in which the actual outcome or meaning is the opposite to what was expected.
  60. Jargon
    The special language of a profession or group.
  61. Logic
    The process of reasoning.
  62. Logical Fallacy
    A mistake in reasoning.
  63. Lyircal
    Songlike; characterized by emotions, subjectivity, and imagination.
  64. Metaphor
    A figure of speech in which the one thing is referred to as another.
  65. Metonymy
    A figure of speech the uses the name of an object, person or idea to represent something with which it is associated.
  66. Mode
    The method or form of a literary work; the manner in which a work of literature is written.
  67. Mood
    Similar to tone, it is the primary emotional attitude of a work (the feeling of the work; the atmosphere).
  68. Moral
    The lesson drawn from a fictional or nonfictional story.
  69. Motif
    Main theme or subject of a work that is elaborated on in the development of the piece; a repeated pattern or idea.
  70. Narration
    The telling of a story in fiction, non fiction, poetry, or drama; one of the four modes of discourse.
  71. Negative-Positive
    Sentence that begins by stating what is NOT true, then ending by stating what is true.
  72. Non-Sequitur
    Latin for "it does not follow". When one statement isn't logically connected to another.
  73. Objectivity
    An impersonal presentation of events and characters.
  74. Onomatopoeia
    The use of words that sound like what they mean, such as "hiss", "boom", "buzz".
  75. Oversimplification
    When a writer obscures or denies the complexity of the issues in an argument.
  76. Oxymoron
    A figure of speech composed of contradictory words or phrases, such as "wise-fool", "bitter-sweet", "pretty ugly".
  77. Pacing
    The movement of a literary piece from one point or one section to another.
  78. Parable
    A short tale that teaches a moral; similar to bu shorter than an allegory.
  79. Paradox
    A statement that seems to contradict itself but turns out to have a rational meaning.
  80. Parallelism
    The technique of arranging words, phrases, clauses, or larger structures by placing them side by side and making them similar in form.
  81. Parody
    A work that ridicules the style of another work by imitating and exaggerating its elements.
  82. Pathos
    An element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion.
  83. Pedantic
    A term used to describe writing that borders on lecturing.
  84. Personification
    The attribution of human qualities to a nonhuman or an inanimate object.
  85. Persuasion
    A from of argumentation, one of the four modes of discourse; language intended to convince through appeals to reason to reason or emotion.
  86. Point of View (POV)
    The perspective from which a story is presented.
  87. First Person Narrator
    A narrator, referred to as "I" who is a character in the story and relates the actions through his/her own perspective and thoughts.
  88. Stream of Consciousness
    Like a first person narrator, but instead placing the reader inside the character's head, making the reader privy to the continuous, chaotic flow of disconnected, half-formed thoughts and impressions in the character's mind.
  89. Omniscient
    Third person narrator, referred to as "he", "she", or "they", who is able to see into each character's mind and understands all the action.
  90. Limited Omniscient
    The third person narrator who reports the thoughts of only one character and generally only what the character sees.
  91. Objective
    A third person narrator who only reports what would be visible to a camera; thoughts and feelings are only revealed of a character speaks of them.
  92. Polysyndeton
    Sentence which uses and or another conjunction (with no commas) to separate the items in a series.
  93. Protangonist
    The main character of literary work.
  94. Red Herring
    When a writer raises an irrelevant issue to draw attention away from the real issue.
  95. Reductio ad Absurdum
    The Latin for "to reduce to the absurd". This is a technique useful in creating a comic effect and is also and argumentative technique.
  96. Regionalism
    An element in literature the conveys a realistic portrayal of a specific geographical locale, using the locale and its influences as a major part of the plot.
  97. Repetition
    Word or phrase used two or more times is close proximity.
  98. Rhetoric
    The art of effective communication, especially persuasive discourse; Rhetoric focuses on the interrelationship of invention, arrangement, and style in order to create felicitous and appropriate discourse.
  99. Rhetorical Modes
    Exposition, description, narration, and argumentation.
  100. Rhetorical Question
    One that does not expect an explicit answer. It is used to pose an idea to be considerably by the speaker or audience.
  101. Sarcasm
    Harsh. caustic personal remarks to or about someone; less subtle than irony.
  102. Satire
    A work that reveals a critical attitude toward some element of human behavior by portraying it in an extreme way.
  103. Setting
    Time and place of a literary work.
  104. Simile
    A figure of speech that uses like, as, or as if to make a direct comparison between two essentially different objects, actions, or qualities.
  105. Speaker
    The voice of a work; an author may speak as himself or herself or as a fiction persona.
  106. Stereotype
    A character who represents a trait that is usually attributed to a particular social or racial group and who lacks individuality.
  107. Straw Man
    When a writer argues against a claim that nobody actually holds or is universally considered weak.
  108. Style
    An author's characteristic manner of expression- his or her syntax, imagery structure, and content all contribute to style.
  109. Subjectivity
    A personal presentation of events and characters, influenced by the author's feelings and opinions.
  110. Syllogism
    A form of reasoning in which two statements are made and a conclusion is drawn from them.
  111. Symbolism
    The use of symbols or anything that is meant to be taken both literally and as a representative of a higher and more complex significance.
  112. Synecdoche
    A figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent a whole.
  113. Syntactic Fluency
    Ability to create a variety of sentence structures, appropriately complex and/or simple and varied in length.
  114. Syntactic Permuntation
    Sentence structures that are extraordinarily complex and involved .
  115. Syntax
    The grammatical structure of a sentence; the arrangement of words in a sentence.
  116. Theme
    The central idea or "message" of a literary work.
  117. Thesis
    The main idea of a piece of writing.
  118. Tone
    The characteristic emotion or attitude of an author toward the characters, subject, and audience.
  119. Transition
    A word or phrase that links one idea to the next and carries the reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.
  120. Tricolon
    Sentence consisting of three parts of equal importance and length, usually three independent clauses.
  121. Understatement
    The opposite of exaggeration.
  122. Unity
    Quality of a piece of writing.
  123. Voice
    Refers to two different areas of writing. One refers to the relationship between a sentence's subject and verb (active and passive voice). The second refers to the total "sound" of a writer's style.
Card Set
AP Language Rhetorical Terms
Terms & Definitions