Address: A poem in the form of a speech addressed to some person, animal or object.
Allegory: A story in verse or prose, with a double meaning, which can be read and understood on two levels.
Alliteration: The use of the same initial letter in two or more words in close proximity to create a particular effect, usually intensifying the sense of the words.
Allusion: A reference to another event, place, person or piece of literature.
Ambiguity: When a piece of language can be interpreted in more than one way, or where the meaning is unclear; can be used for a humorous effect.
Anthropomorphism: Representation of a God as having the form, personality or attributes of man.
Apostrophe: A figure of speech in which a thing, a place, an abstract quality, an idea, a dead or absent person is addressed as if present and capable of understanding.
Archaic: Old fashioned; used to describe words which are seldom used any more.
Assonance: The repetition of similar vowel sounds.
Atmosphere: The mood and feeling, the intangible quality which appeals to sensory perception.
Blank Verse: Unrhymed poetry in iambic pentameter.
Caesura: A break or pause in a line of poetry, often marked by punctuation.
Cliché: A figure of speech which has lost its impact through overuse.
Climax: Building up to a high point or important moment.
Colloquial: Ordinary, everyday speech.
Connotation: The implication or suggestion attached to a word or phrase.
Contrast: Bringing two objects together to show the difference.
Couplet: Two consecutive lines of verse that rhyme.
Dialect: A way of speaking in a certain area of the country.
Dramatic monologue: A poem in which there is one imaginary speaker addressing an imaginary audience.
Enjambement: A line of verse that runs onto the next line without a pause .
Euphemism: The substitution of a mild and unpleasant term for a harsh and blunt one. E.g. ‘to pass away’ instead of ‘die’.
Extended Image: A comparison that is repeated in more than one place in a poem and is continued throughout the writing.
Figurative Language: Language which is symbolic or metaphorical; not meant to be taken literally such as similes, metaphors and personification.
Hyperbole: Exaggeration to emphasise the sense of the words; often used for satirical or humorous effect.
Imagery: The use of words to create images for the reader or listener.
Irony: Saying one thing while meaning another; a word or phrase which has a surface meaning but the opposite meaning is often implied. (An ironic situation is when something seems to be mocked by Fate.)
Jargon: language which is particular to a profession or occupation or group of people.
Juxtaposition: Placing together two items that are not usually placed together to make a striking combination.
Lexical choice: the actual words chosen to make an effect.
Litotes: the opposite of hyperbole; deliberately understating.
Metaphor: A figure of speech in which two things are compared to make a description more vivid. The metaphor states that one thing is the other; whereas the simile would say that one thing is ‘like’ or ‘as’ another.
Metre: The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a regular verse form.
Monosyllabic: one syllable.
Mood: The overall emotional feeling or atmosphere created by a piece of writing.
Onomatopoeia: A figure of speech in which the sound of the word copies the sound it is describing.
Oxymoron: A figure of speech which joins together two words of opposite meaning.
Paradox: A puzzle; a statement which appears to be contradicting itself but when considered more closely turns out to be true.
Parody: a work that is written in imitation of another, usually to make fun of the original work.
Pejorative: A negative implication or suggestion.
Persona: The ‘person’ in the poem- not necessarily the poet. This is the point of view from which the poem is written.
Personification: Giving human qualities to an inanimate object.
Polysyllabic: Made up of more than one syllable.
Pun: A play on words; using two words which have the same sound but different meanings.
Refrain: Repetition throughout a poem of a phrase, line or verse.
Register: A particular form of language appropriate to a given situation.
Repetition: When a word or phrase is repeated to give a particular effect.
Rhetorical question: A question that does not require an answer because the answer is obvious or it is implied in the question.
Rhyme: Corresponding sounds in words, usually at the end of lines.
Rhyme scheme: The pattern of rhyme in a poem.
Sarcasm: Usually a cruel and cutting remark.
Satire: A literary form designed to discredit and ridicule men, institutions and ideas.
Simile: A comparison of one thing with another in order to make the description more vivid. Similes use the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ to make the comparisons.
Sonnet: a 14-line poem. A Petrarchan sonnet has an octave and a sestet and is usually a puzzle followed by an answer. A Shakespearian sonnet is three quatrains followed by a couplet. The quatrains are often related and the couplet is the climax or conclusion.
Stanza: The blocks of lines into which a poem is divided.
Stream of Consciousness: A technique in which the writer writes down thoughts and emotions as they come into mind without seeming to bother about a structure.
Structure: The way that a poem has been put together.
Style: The individual way in which a writer uses language to express ideas.
Symbol: A physical object that is used to represent something else. E.g. a dove symbolising peace.
Syntax: The grammatical arrangement of words within their sentences. In poetry unusual syntax is used to give particular effects.
Theme: The central idea or ideas that are explored in a piece of literature.
Tone: The author’s voice or overall impression created in a piece of writing. Think of the tone of voice you would use if you were saying the words aloud.
Transferred Epithet: An adjective that is usually applied to a person is applied to an object to draw attention to a quality.
Verse: A unit of poetry.