AP English Lit exam terms

If you are gearing up to take the Advanced Placement English Literature exam, you better be able to distinguish between your elegies and your allegories! This list will help.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. allegory
    a short moral story
  2. narrative
    consisting of or characterized by the telling of a story
  3. character
    an imaginary person represented in a work of fiction
  4. alliteration
    use of the same consonant at the beginning of each word
  5. repetition
    the continued use of the same word or word pattern
  6. apostrophe
    an address to an absent or imaginary person
  7. ballad
    a narrative poem of popular origin
  8. stanza
    a fixed number of lines of verse forming a unit of a poem
  9. dialogue
    the lines spoken by characters in drama or fiction
  10. rhyme
    correspondence in the final sounds of two or more lines
  11. rhythm
    alternation of stressed and unstressed elements in speech
  12. theme
    a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary work
  13. symmetry
    balance among the parts of something
  14. climax
    the decisive moment in a novel or play
  15. denouement
    the resolution of the main complication of a literary work
  16. plot
    the story that is told, as in a novel, play, movie, etc.
  17. diction
    the manner in which something is expressed in words
  18. elegy
    a mournful poem; a lament for the dead
  19. epic
    a long narrative poem telling of a hero's deeds
  20. setting
    the context and environment in which something is situated
  21. epithet
    descriptive word or phrase
  22. figurative
    not literal
  23. hyperbole
    extravagant exaggeration
  24. exaggeration
    the act of making something more noticeable than usual
  25. irony
    incongruity between what might be expected and what occurs
  26. literal
    limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text
  27. lyric
    of or relating to poetry that expresses emotion
  28. metaphor
    a figure of speech that suggests a non-literal similarity
  29. simile
    a figure of speech expressing a resemblance between things
  30. oxymoron
    conjoined contradictory terms
  31. paradox
    a statement that contradicts itself
  32. pastoral
    a literary work idealizing the rural life
  33. pathos
    a quality that arouses emotions, especially pity or sorrow
  34. rhetoric
    using language effectively to please or persuade
  35. satire
    witty language used to convey insults or scorn
  36. soliloquy
    a dramatic speech giving the illusion of unspoken reflection
  37. symbol
    something visible that represents something invisible
  38. vignette
    a brief literary description
Created on January 27, 2012 (updated August 4, 2014)

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