Glossary of Literary Terms
Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds in neighboring words.
Allusion: A reference to a familiar person, place, or event.
Analysis: The process or result of identifying the parts of a whole and their relationships to one another.
Antonym: A word that is the opposite of another word.
Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds.
Characterization: The method an author uses to reveal his/her characters and their various personalities.
Compare: Place together characters, situations, or ideas to show common or differing features in literary selections.
Context clues: Information from the reading that identifies a word or group of words.
Conventions of language: Mechanics, usage, and sentence completeness.
Couplet: Two lines of rhyming poetry.
Dialect: Speech patterns that indicate a specific geographical region or social group.
Evaluate: Examine and judge carefully.
Figurative language: Language that cannot be taken literally since it was written to create a special effect or feeling.
Fluency: The clear, easy, written or spoken expression of ideas. Freedom from word-identification problems that might hinder comprehension in silent reading or the expression of ideas in oral reading.
Focus: The center of interest or attention.
Foreshadowing: An author's use of hints or clues to suggest events that will occur later in a narrative.
Genre: A category used to classify works, usually by form, technique or content (e.g. prose, poetry).
Graphic organizer: A diagram or pictorial device that shows relationships.
Homophone: A word that is pronounced the same, but that has different meaning (e.g. hair/hare, scale (fish)/scale (musical)).
Hyperbole: An exaggeration or overstatement (e.g., I was so embarrassed I could have died.).
Idiomatic language: An expression peculiar to itself grammatically or that cannot be understood if taken literally (e.g., Let's get on the ball.).
Imagery: Concrete details that appeal to the senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, or to internal feelings.
Inference: A reasonable and intelligent conclusion drawn from hints or other information provided by the author.
Irony: The use of a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal or usual meaning.
Literary conflict: The struggle that grows out of the interplay of the two opposing forces in a plot.
Literary elements: The essential techniques used in literature, such as characterization, setting, plot, and theme.
Literary devices: Tools used by the author to enliven and provide voice to the writing, such as dialogue and alliteration.
Literary structures: The author's method of organizing text, such as foreshadowing and flashbacks.
Metaphor: The comparison of two unlike things in which no words of comparison (like or as) are used (e.g. That new kid in class is really a squirrel.).
Meter: The repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. (see also rhythm)
Mood: The total feeling in a literary work. Setting, objects, details, images, and words all contribute to create mood.
Narrative: A story, actual or fictional, expressed orally or in writing.
Onomatopoeia: The use of words to imitate sounds.
Paraphrase: Restate text or passage in other words, often to clarify meaning or show understanding.
Parody: A humorous imitation of a literary work, usually following the original form but changing its sense to nonsense to ridicule the writer's characteristics.
Pattern book: A book with predictable language structure and often written with predictable text; also known as a predictable book.
Personification: An object or abstract idea given human qualities or human form (e.g. , Flowers danced about the lawn.).
Phonics: The relationship between letters and sounds fundamental in beginning reading.
Point of view: The way in which an author reveals characters, events, and ideas in telling a story; the vantage point from which the story is told.
First person: The narrator "I" is a character in the story who can reveal only personal thoughts and feelings and what he/she sees or is told by other characters.
Third person: The narrator is an outsider who can report only what he or she sees and hears.
Public document: A document that focuses on civic issues or matters of public policy at the community level and beyond.
Reading critically: Reading in which a questioning attitude, logical analysis, and inference are used to judge the worth of text; evaluating relevancy and adequacy of what is read; the judgment of validity, or worth of what is read, based on sound criteria.
Reading rate: The speed at which a person reads, usually silently.
Research: A systematic inquiry into a subject, or problem in order to discover, verify, or revise relevant facts or principles having to do with that subject or problem.
Rhyme: Repetition of syllable sounds at the end of words.
Rhythm: The pattern of stressed ( ) and unstressed ( ) syllables.
example: The outlook wasn't brilliant for the
Mudville nine that day;
Satire: A literary tone used to ridicule or make fun of human vice or weakness.
Self-monitor: Know when what one is reading or writing is not making sense; adjust strategies for comprehension.
Semantics: The study of meaning in language.
Setting: Time, place, and surrounding circumstances of a narrative.
Simile: A comparison of two unlike things in which a word of comparison (like or as) is used (e.g., She eats like a bird.).
Primary: Text and/or artifacts that tell or show a first-hand account of an event; original works used when researching.
Secondary: Text and/or artifacts used when researching that are derived from something original.
Subject area: An organized body of knowledge; a discipline; a content area.
Stanza: A group of lines that form a unit in a poem.
Style: How an author writes; an author's use of language; its effects and appropriateness to the author's intent and theme.
Symbol: A person, place, event, or object that has a meaning in itself but suggests other meanings as well.
Synonym: Two or more words in a language that have highly similar meanings (e.g., sorrow, grief, sadness).
Syntax: The pattern or structure of word order in sentences, clauses, and phrases.
Theme: A topic of discussion or writing; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work.
Thesis: The basic argument advanced by a speaker or writer who then attempts to prove it; the subject or major argument of a speech or composition.
Tone: The attitude of the author toward the audience and characters, such as serious or humorous.
Voice: The fluency, rhythm, and liveliness in writing that makes it unique to the writer. Writing without voice is mechanical and flat.