Literary Devices

  1. Accumulation
    The pile up of words with similar abstract or physical qualities or meanings in a list to emphasize the common qualities the words hold. It is also an act of accumulating scattered points.

    The function of accumulation is to make the language livelier and contribute to the meanings of the words. It also describes an object through different explanations.

    Example from Ulysses by James Joyce: Tangoon beans, strikes of tomatoes, drums of figs, drills of Swedes, spherical potatoes, and tallies of iridescent kale, York and Savoy, and trays of onions.
  2. Adage
    A traditional saying that is commonly accepted as true, with wisdom, and a moral lesson. They are not cliches if they are not overused, powerless, and away from their original meanings

    Examples: Better to give than to receive, The blind leading blind. Better to have loved than not. Things are not always what they seem. God helps those who help themselves.

    Usage: to sum up or drive a point in a concise way that's known and accepted.
  3. Alliteration
    Is the repetition of consonant sounds close together or in a series. Alliteration is based on the sounds not the letters.

    • Examples:
    • Not knotty
    • Best Buy
    • Seattle Seahawks
    • Coca-Cola

    Alliteration gives a musical sound and feel to text. Alliteration can add rhythm. It makes prose and poetry more enjoyable and memorable. It adds flow and beauty to a piece. Alliteration is often used in marketing and maybe effective in persuasive arguments.
  4. Amplification
    Is a rhetorical device used to embellish a sentence or idea by adding further information. Amplification often includes repeating an idea or statement and giving further information.

    Amplification is used to persuade and emphasize a certain idea by elaborating and exaggeration.


    Mr. and Mrs. Veneering were brand-new people in a brand-new house in a brand-new quarter of London. Everything about the Veneerings was spick and span new. All their furniture was new, all their friends were new, all their servants were new, their place was new, … their harness was new, their horses were new, their pictures were new, they themselves were new, they were as newly-married as was lawfully compatible with their having a brand-new baby

    If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.

    A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
  5. Anadiplosis

    Repetition of a word, or words, that come at the end of a cause at the beginning of the next clause.

    • Examples:
    • Add to your faith goodness, to goodness add love.

    Patriarchy is a bully, a bully we must beat and defeat.

    Anadiplosis is used for emphasis of a key word or idea by using repetition in quick succession.

    It is very effective with commands.
  6. Analogy
    An analogy is a comparison of two unlike subjects, themes, objects, or things to enhance the understanding of readers.

    They are interesting and memorable literary tools often used in speech. Analogies are more extensive than the simple simile which makes a comparison using like or as and often involves humor. And analogies are more extensive than metaphors which make direct assumptive and declarative comparisons without like or as.

    Analogies are similarities put to speech or sentences and they are the umbrella of similes and metaphors.

    Example: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what's inside.

    White supremacy is a bully, it teases, it's violent, it name calls, it tries to control, affect your self-esteem, and humiliates.
  7. Anaphora
    Anaphora is the deliberate repetition of the beginning part of a sentence. It places emphasis on an idea. It creates a rhythm and it is used for persuasion and emotion.


    It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

    I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day Black boys and white boys will walk hand in hand. I have a dream. I have a dream that freedom will ring.

    Every day, every night, in every way, I am getting better and better.”

    “My life is my purpose. My life is my goal. My life is my inspiration.”

    Tell them to be good, tell them to follow their elders, and tell them to mind their manners.”
  8. Antanaclasis


    ant·anac·la·sis | \ˌan-tə-ˈna-klə-səs  \

    Definition of antanaclasis 

    : the repetition of a word within a phrase or sentence in which the second occurrence utilizes a different and sometimes contrary meaning from the first

    • Examples:
    • Ben Franklin: We must hang together, otherwise we'll hang together.

    I have many miles before I sleep and many miles before I sleep.

    Antanaclasis is used for emphasis of different meanings. It keeps readers on their toes and it is used for persuasion.
  9. Antistrophe
    An• tis• tro• phe

    Antistrophe is a derivative of a Greek word that means “turning back.” It is a rhetorical device that involves the repetition of the same words at the end of consecutive phrases, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs.

    It emphasizes a main thought, subject, theme, object or idea.


    White supremacy is desperate for hope. *We should say nope.* White supremacy wants to gloat. *We should say nope.* White supremacy wants to mope. *We should say nope.*

    Racism is a shapeshifter, it always reinvents itself to continue its ends. It's changed over time. *It never stays the same.* It started with boats, ropes, and chains. Then it went to separate lanes. *It never stays the same.*
  10. Aphorismus

    This is a rhetorical device that calls into question the use of word usually with a rhetorical question.

    • Example:
    • America is the land of free and yet we are the nation with the highest incarceration rates. A nation of prisons. *Is that the land of the free? Is that free?*

    The POTUS is called the leader of the free world. *How can the leader of the free world preside over a nation of prisons?*

    You are scared of cats? *How can you call yourself a man?*
  11. Apostrophe
    Apostrophe is when the writer speaks to a person who isn't there, or speaks to an inanimate object, or an abstract idea as if the subject can understand, is present, or can respond. It is an attempt to add characters and emotion to the text, or further describe a theme or the subject.

    • Examples:
    • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    • *How I wonder what you are
  12. Asyndeton
    Asin• deh• ton

    Is the omission of conjunctions in between words and phrases to enhance speed and rhythm in a sentence.

    • Example:
    • White supremacy aims to steal, kill, destroy everything in its way.

    Patriarchy comes in many colors, shapes, sizes; it's not always easy to see.

    He eats, sleeps, drinks everyday.

    This villain among you who deceived you, who cheated you, who meant to betray you completely.

    It assaults, threatens, stalks us everyday.

    Without walking, without talking, without looking.

    Consciousness of place came ebbing back to him slowly over a vast tract of time unlit, unfelt, unlived…
  13. Adynaton
    • A•din•aton
    • Adynaton is an exaggeration that is literally impossible. It is used to stress and emphasize a point.

    Example: When pigs fly
  14. Allusion
    Allusion is a brief and indirect reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, literary or political significance. It does not describe in detail the person or thing to which it refers. It is just a passing comment and the writer expects the reader to possess enough knowledge to spot the allusion and grasp its importance in a text.

    Example: Don't act like a Romeo
  15. Anachronism
    • Means against time.
    • Anything mentioned that is out of time and place.

    • Example:
    • Trump took his chariot to the border
  16. Anecdote
    Anecdote is defined as a short and interesting story, or an amusing event, often proposed to support or demonstrate some point, and to make the audience laugh. 
Card Set
Literary Devices