Vocabulary for Literature and Language Studies



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Vocabulary for Literature and Language Studies

  1. Abstract – those things we can conceive mentally but cannot see, touch, or hear (an idea, justice, equality, etc)

  2. Abstract noun – names an idea, a feeling, a quality, or a characteristic (liberty, hope, equality, etc)

  3. Acronym – a word formed by combining the initial letters or syllables of a series of words to form a name, such as “radar” from “radio detecting and ranging”

  4. Action verb – a verb that expresses a physical or mental action (runs, thinks, hopes, etc)

  5. Active voice – the subject of the sentence performs the action denoted by the verb (The janitor swept the floor.)

  6. Adage – an old, familiar saying (Look before you leap.)

  7. Adjective – a word that modifies a noun or pronoun; answers what kind, which one, how many, how much (round, three, many, etc)

  8. Adjective clause – a subordinate clause that modifies a noun or pronoun; usually begins with a relative pronoun (Arctic winters, which are long and cold, are severe.)

  9. Adjective Phrase – a prepositional phrase that modifies a noun or pronoun and tells what kind or which one; usually follows the word it modifies, which may be the object of another preposition; more than one adjective phrase may modify the same noun or pronoun (He bought a house with blue shutters.)

  10. Adverb – a word that modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb; answers where, when, in what way, or to what extent (yesterday, very, up, etc)

  11. Adverb clause – a subordinate clause that modifies a verb, an adverb, or an adjective; begins with a subordinating conjunction (Today’s test lasted longer than the one yesterday.)

  12. Adverb Phrase – a prepositional phrase that modifies a verb, an adjective, or an adverb and tells when, where, how, why or to what extent; may come before or after the word or word group it modifies; more than one adverb phrase may modify the same word or group of words (He bought a house by the lake.)

  13. Advertisement – planned communication meant to be seen, heard, or read in an attempt to persuade an audience to buy a product or service

  14. Aesthetic – relating to beauty

  15. Allegory – a prose or poetic narrative in which there is both a literal and a symbolic meaning, generally personifies abstract ideas such as death, pride, or joy

  16. Alliteration – repetition of initial consonant sounds (Big brown bears batted bees.)

  17. Allusion – a reference to a literary or historical person, place, or event

  18. Ambiguity – writing that is unclear, obscure, or difficult to understand, primarily because words or ideas may be understood in multiple ways

  19. Anachronism – the misplacement of a person, occurrence, custom, or idea in time; an individual or thing incorrectly placed in time (a character in King Arthur who wears a wristwatch)

  20. Analogy – comparison between things based on specific features (A:B::1:2)

  21. Anapestic – a line made up primarily of anapests [two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable]

  22. Anaphora – regular repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases or clauses (something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue)

  23. Anecdote – a short narrative usually consisting of one episode or incident, may be real or fictional

  24. Annals – narratives of historical events recorded year by year

  25. Annotated bibliography – provides a list of materials about a specific topic, including source information and a summary and evaluation of each entry

  26. Annotation – explanatory notes added to a text to explain, translate, cite sources, give biographical data, or express personal comments

  27. Antagonist – the most significant character or force that opposes the protagonist in a narrative or drama (Voldemort, the Volturi, Captain Beatty)

  28. Antecedent – the noun to which the pronoun refers (Jack bought a car after he won the lottery. “Jack” is the antecedent of “he”.)

  29. Antihero – a protagonist who is lacking in one or more of the conventional qualities, such as dignity, bravery, or honor, that are typically attributed to a hero

  30. Aphorism – a concise expression of insight or wisdom (The early bird gets the worm.)

  31. Apostrophe – a direct address to something or someone; particularly an address to an inanimate object, a dead or absent person, something abstract, or a spirit (O Death, where is thy sting?)

  32. Appositive Phrase – consists of an appositive [a noun or pronoun placed beside another noun or pronoun to identify or explain it] and its modifiers (George Washington, the first President of the United States, was a general in the army.)

  33. Archetype – a recurring symbol, character, landscape, or event found in myth and literature across different cultures and eras (the devil, the damsel in distress, the quest)

  34. Archive – the repository for historical documents or public records

  35. Argumentation – form of persuasion that uses reasoning to try to lead a reader or listener to think or act in a certain way

  36. Articles – a, an, the; adjectives; “a” and “an” are indefinite articles because they refer to someone or something in general; “the” is a definite article because it refers to someone or something in particular

  37. Aside – a few words or a short passage spoken in an undertone or to the audience; other characters onstage are deaf to the aside

  38. Assonance – the repetition of two or more vowel sounds in successive words, which creates a kind of rhyme (white lilacs, all the awful arts)

  39. Assumption – something taken for granted and presumed to be true without need for further explanation or proof

  40. Asyndeton – elimination of conjunctions (I came, I saw, I conquered.)

  41. Audience – to/for whom you are writing

  42. Autobiography – tells a true story about something important in the author’s life

  43. Ballad – a song that tells a story

  44. Bathos – a sudden and unexpected drop from the lofty to the trivial or excessively sentimental

  45. Biography – a factual account of a person’s life, examining all available information or texts relevant to the subject

  46. Blank verse – contains five iambic feet per line and is never rhymed

  47. Blues – a type of folk music originally developed by African-Americans in the South, often about some pain or loss; typically contain three-line stanzas in which the first two identical lines are followed by a third, concluding, rhyming line

  48. Blurb – a term applied in the book trade to the hyperbolically encomiastic matter printed on the jackets of books or elsewhere

  49. Body – the part of the writing that develops, explains, and supports the key idea expressed in the thesis statement

  50. Bombast – use of ornamental but unnecessary language in writing; often ranting, insincere, or extravagant

  51. Business letter – formally addresses and communicates issues of concern to both writers and readers

  52. Cacophony – a harsh, unpleasant sounds of words

  53. Caesura – a pause within a line of verse; traditionally appears near the middle of a line; usually occurs at a mark of punctuation, but can occur without punctuation

  54. Caricature – an author’s exaggeration or distortion of certain characteristics or traits of a particular group or individual

  55. Carpe diem – seize the day

  56. Catalog – a list of people, things, or attributes

  57. Catharsis – the feeling of emotional release or calm the spectator feels at the end of a tragedy

  58. Cause-effect writing – examines the relationship between events, explaining how one event or situation caused another (the effects of segregation)

  59. Character – an imagined figure inhabiting a narrative or drama

  60. Chiasmus – the order of terms in the first phrase or clause is reversed in the second phrase or clause (from life to death, and death to life)

  61. Circular Reasoning – supporting facts for an argument are weak or nonexistent resulting in the original idea being restated as if it were evidence

  62. Classification-division writing – writing that separates something into sections and places examples into categories or classes (kinds of fish)

  63. Clerihew – a comic verse form that begins with the name of a person and consists of two metrically awkward, rhymed couplets; humorous and often insulting; serves as ridiculous biographies, usually of famous people

  64. Cliché – an overused idea or phrase, thus it no longer retains its original impact (The grass is greener on the other side.)

  65. Climax – the moment of greatest intensity in a story, which almost inevitably occurs toward the end of the work; often takes the form of a decisive confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist (Romeo kills Tybalt)

  66. Coherence – logical organization with a clear presentation of ideas allowing the writing to make sense and be understood

  67. Collective noun – names a group of people or things (class, team, senators)

  68. Colloquial English – casual and informal but correct language of ordinary native speakers; may include contractions, slang, and shifts in grammar, vocabulary, and diction

  69. Comma splice – a run-on sentence separated by a comma instead of by a comma and a conjunction or a period (I baked the cake this morning, I have not frosted it yet.)

  70. Common noun – names any one of a group of persons, places, or things; it is not capitalized (senator, school, teacher)

  71. Comparison-contrast writing – short piece of expository writing that describes the similarities and differences between two or more subjects (football vs. basketball)

  72. Complement – a word or group of words that completes the meaning of a verb

  73. Complex sentence – one independent clause and at least one subordinate clause (Because there is a projector in the classroom, the teacher uses it every day.)

  74. Composition – a group of related paragraphs that develop a main idea

  75. Compound sentence – two or more independent clauses but no subordinate clause (There is a projector in the classroom, and the teacher uses it every day.)

  76. Compound-complex sentence – two or more independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause (Because there is a projector in the classroom, the teacher uses it every day, and the students are more engaged in learning.)

  77. Conceit – poetic device that uses elaborate comparisons, such as equating a loved one with the beauties of the world

  78. Conclusion – the final paragraph of a piece of writing; it should restate the thesis and sum up the support while leaving the readers with a memorable statement, a call to action, or a thought

  79. Concrete – something specific and tangible that can be perceived by the senses (scent, grit, table, landscape, etc)

  80. Concrete noun – names a person, place, or thing that can be perceived by one or more of the senses (table, hat, room, etc)

  81. Concrete poetry – a visual poetry composed exclusively for creating a picture or image with the printed letters and words

  82. Confessional poetry – autobiographical poetry that exposes the poet’s personal life

  83. Conflict – the central struggle between two or more forces in a story

  84. Connotation – emotional meanings attached to words (calling someone a “thug”)

  85. Consonance – a kind of rhyme in which the linked words share similar consonant sounds but different vowel sounds (reason and raisin, mink and monk)

  86. Conundrum – a difficult riddle

  87. Conventions – in writing, practices or principles, such as the rules of grammar, usage, and spelling, that are accepted as true and correct.

  88. Couplet – a two line stanza

  89. Dactylic – a line made up primarily of dactyls [one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables]

  90. Dangling modifier – seems to modify the wrong word or no word at all because the word it is supposed to modify has been omitted from the sentence (Incorrect – While touring the White House, shoes must be worn. / Correct – While touring the White House, visitors must wear shoes.)

  91. Declarative sentence – makes a statement

  92. Decorum – propriety or appropriateness

  93. Deductive reasoning – reasoning that moves from general statement that is assumed to be true to a specific statement that requires verification

  94. Definition writing – a type of essay that identifies and gives the qualities of a person, object, institution, pattern of behavior, or political theory in a way that highlights its special characteristics (cancer)

  95. Demonstrative adjectives – the words “that”, “these”, “this”, “those” when they modify a noun (that book, those shoes, these chairs, this hat, etc)

  96. Demonstrative pronouns – points out a person, a place, a thing, or an idea (this, that, these, those)

  97. Denotation – dictionary, literal definition of a word

  98. Denouement – the resolution or conclusion of a literary work (The families bury their children and end their feud.)

  99. Descriptive writing (description) – writing that evokes the senses to create a picture

  100. Dialect – a particular variety of language spoken by an identifiable regional group or social class of persons

  101. Dialogue – direct representation of the conversation between two or more characters

  102. Diction – word choice

  103. Didactic – intended to instruct or to educate

  104. Dimeter – two feet per line

  105. Direct characterization – details about character are revealed directly (She has blue eyes. She is honest.)

  106. Direct object – a noun or pronoun that receives the action of a verb or that shows the result of that action; it tells “whom” or “what” after a transitive verb. (John bought a book.)

  107. Dirge – a wailing song sung at a funeral or in commemoration of death; a short lyric of lamentation

  108. Documentation – a system used for giving readers information about where the writer found the sources he/she used in an academic paper, research paper, or a technical report

  109. Double negative – the use of two negative words when one is sufficient (The cotton candy wasn’t no good.)

  110. Drafting – the process of preparing a first draft of a written piece of work

  111. Dramatic irony – the reader or audience knows information that some characters do not know

  112. Dramaturgy – the craft or technique of dramatic composition; creating little dramatic scenes to make a point

  113. Dynamic character – a character who grows or changes in some significant way over the course of the narrative

  114. Editing / Proofreading – reviewing the spelling, grammar, usage, and mechanics to ensure correctness

  115. Editorial – expresses one’s opinions about events currently in the news

  116. Elegy – a lament or sadly meditative poem, often written on the occasion of a death or other solemn theme; usually uses a formal style

  117. Elision – the omission of part of a word (ne’er for never)

  118. Empathy – the ability to identify oneself mentally with a person or thing in order to understand his/her feelings or its meaning

  119. End rhyme – rhyme that occurs at the ends of lines

  120. Enjambment – the continuation of a sentence beyond the end of a line of verse, without a pause

  121. Epic – a long narrative poem, usually composed in an elevated style to depict the adventures of a legendary or mythic hero

  122. Epigram – a very short, poem, often comic, usually ending with a sharp turn of wit or meaning

  123. Epigraph – a brief quotation preceding a story or other literary work; usually suggests the subject, theme, or atmosphere the story will explore

  124. Epilogue – a concluding statement of a literary work

  125. Epiphany – a moment of insight, discovery, or revelation by which a character’s life is greatly altered

  126. Epistolary novel – novels in which the story is told by way of letters written by one or more characters

  127. Epistrophe – regular repetition of the same word or phrase at the end of successive phrases or clauses (of the people, for the people, by the people)

  128. Epitaph – a brief statement to memorialize a deceased person or thing or a time or event that has ended

  129. Essay – an article or short nonfiction composition that focuses on a specific theme or topic

  130. Ethos – the overall character, moral makeup, or guiding beliefs of an individual, group, or institution; appeals to morals, character, values

  131. Eulogy – a formal statement of praise

  132. Euphemism – words or phrases used to soften the meaning of words and phrases that may be offensive or unpleasant (saying someone “passed away” instead of “died”)

  133. Euphony – harmonious, pleasing sounds of words

  134. Evidence – largely factual supporting examples such as scientific observations, the testimony of authorities, and reliable historical or eyewitness reports

  135. Exact rhyme – a full rhyme in which the sounds following the initial letters of the words are identical in sound (follow, hollow)

  136. Exclamatory sentence – expresses strong feeling

  137. Exemplum – a moralized tale, often used by medieval preachers to present an example for behavior to their congregations

  138. Explication – detailed analysis of a literary work

  139. Exposition – the opening of a narrative; sets the scene, introduces the protagonist, and provides any other background knowledge the reader will need to understand the narrative (The Capulets and Montagues are feuding.)

  140. Expository writing (exposition) – writing that informs

  141. External conflict – a conflict between a character and another character (man v man), a character and society, or a character and nature

  142. Eye rhyme – rhyme in which the spelling of the words appears alike, but the pronunciation differs (laughter, daughter)

  143. Fable – a brief, often humorous, narrative told to illustrate a moral; traditionally the characters are animals whose personality traits symbolize human traits

  144. Fact – something that can be proven (Congress has 435 members.)

  145. Fairy tale – a traditional form of short narrative folklore, originally transmitted orally, that features supernatural characters such as witches and giants and a hero or heroine destined to achieve some desirable fate such as marrying a prince or princess, becoming wealthy, or destroying an enemy

  146. Fallacy – a proposition or argument that does not stand up under scrutiny because either it is not a truthful representation of facts or it is not a valid interpretation of facts

  147. Falling action – the events in a narrative that follow the climax and bring the story to its conclusion (all the action after Romeo kills Tybalt)

  148. Falling meter – movement from stressed to unstressed syllables, includes trochaic and dactyllic

  149. Fantasy – a narrative that depicts events, characters, or places that could not exist in the real world

  150. Farce – a type of comedy featuring exaggerated character types in ludicrous and improbable situations

  151. Feature article – an article that presents objective information about a specific topic

  152. Feminine rhyme – a rhyme of two or more syllables with a stress on a syllable other than the last, such as turtle and fertile

  153. First person point of view – the narrator tells the story through his/her point of view and refers to him/herself as “I”; may be an active participant in the action or an observer

  154. Flashback – a scene relived in a character’s memory

  155. Flat character – a character with only one outstanding trait; are static characters; often are stock characters; rarely the protagonist

  156. Foil – a character who illuminates the qualities of another character by means of contrast (Iago is a foil for Othello.)

  157. Folk ballad – anonymous narrative songs, originally transmitted orally

  158. Folklore – the body of traditional wisdom and customs, including songs, myths, stories, and proverbs, of a people as collected and continued through oral tradition

  159. Foot – a unit of two or three syllables that contains one strong stress

  160. Footnote – an additional piece of information that the author includes at the bottom of the page, usually noted by a small reference number in the main text

  161. Foreshadowing – hints about what will occur later in the narrative

  162. Formal English – heightened, impersonal language of educated persons, usually only written, although possibly spoken on dignified occasions

  163. Found poetry – poetry constructed by arranging bits of “found” prose; a literary work made up on nonliterary language arranged for an expressive effect

  164. Free verse – poetry that organizes its lines without meter; may be rhymed, but often is not

  165. Freytag’s Pyramid – plot diagram or outline to demonstrate the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement of a narrative

  166. Fused sentence – a run-on sentence not separated or joined by any punctuation (I baked the cake this morning I have not frosted it yet.)

  167. Future perfect tense – used to express an action or a state of being that will be completed in the future before some other future occurrence; formed with “will have” or “shall have” and the verb’s past participle (She will have walked the dog.)

  168. Future tense – used to express an action or state of being that will occur; formed with “will” or “shall” as the verb’s base form (She will walk the dog.)

  169. Genre – one of the types of literature, such as short stories, poetry, drama, and novels, or one of the categories within those types, such as romance, science fiction, mystery, or melodrama

  170. Gerund Phrase – consists of a gerund [verb form ending in –ing and used as a noun] and all the words related to the gerund (Swimming in the mornings provides exercise.)

  171. Ghostwriter – one who does journalistic writing to be published under the name of another

  172. Haiku – a Japanese poetic form that has three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables

  173. Hasty Generalization – a statement that is made about a large number of cases or a whole group on the basis of a few examples, without taking into account exceptions or qualifying factors

  174. Helping verb – helps the main verb to express action or a state of being (has, have, might)

  175. Heptameter – seven feet per line

  176. Heroic couplet – iambic pentameter lines rhymed in pairs

  177. Hexameter – six feet per line

  178. Holograph – something completely handwritten by the author

  179. Homily – a form of oral religious instruction given by a minister to a church congregation

  180. Hubris – excessive pride

  181. Hyperbole – extreme exaggeration (I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.)

  182. Hypophora – raising questions and answering them (“What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!” from the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz)

  183. Iambic – a line made up primarily of iambs [an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable]

  184. Iambic pentameter – a line of five iambs

  185. Idiom – a way of speaking that is peculiar to a region, group, or class, or the conventional forms peculiar to a language

  186. Idyll – short poem marked by descriptive, narrative, and pastoral qualities

  187. Imagery – language that brings to mind sense-impressions, creating vivid pictures for the audience/reader

  188. Imperative mood – used to give orders or directions (Drive safely.)

  189. Imperative sentence – makes a request or gives a command

  190. In medias res – in the midst of things; a narrative device that begins a story midway through the events it depicts, requiring flashback to explain context and preceding actions

  191. Incremental refrain – a refrain whose words change slightly with each recurrence

  192. Indefinite pronouns – does not refer to a definite person, place, thing, or idea (all, any, anyone, both, either, everything, few, more, much, nobody, none, no one, other, several, some)

  193. Independent clause – expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence (There is a projector in the classroom.)

  194. Indicative mood – used to make factual statements and to ask questions (Gail drives safely. Does Gail drive safely?)

  195. Indirect characterization – details about character are revealed through the character’s actions and/or what other characters say about or how they relate to him/her (The character steals a car. Other characters are suddenly nervous when the character enters the room.)

  196. Indirect object – a noun or pronoun that precedes the direct object and that usually tells “to whom”, “for whom”, “to what”, or “for what” the action of a verb is done (John bought Jan a book.)

  197. Inductive reasoning – reasoning that moves from specific facts to a conclusion or generalization based on those facts

  198. Infinitive Phrase – consists of an infinitive [verb form usually preceded by “to” that can be used as a noun, adjective, or adverb] and all the words related to the infinitive (He wanted to buy a new car.)

  199. Innocent narrator – a character who fails to understand all the implications of the story s/he tells (Huck Finn)

  200. Intensive pronouns – emphasizes a noun or another pronoun (myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, themselves)

  201. Interior monologue – a direct record of a character’s thoughts, unmediated by a narrator

  202. Interjection – a word that expresses strong emotion (Wow!)

  203. Internal conflict – a conflict between two opposing ideas within a character (Should Hamlet kill Claudius?)

  204. Internal rhyme – rhyme that occurs within a line of poetry

  205. Interrogative pronouns – introduces a question (what, which, who, whom, whose)

  206. Interrogative sentence – asks a question

  207. Intransitive verb – expresses action, or tells something about the subject, without passing the action to a receiver (John ran. He left.)

  208. Introduction – the beginning of a piece of writing; it should capture the readers’ attention and introduces the focus of a piece of writing in a thesis statement

  209. Invective – a violent attack using words; abusive language

  210. Inverted sentence (inversion) – reversing the traditional subject-verb order in a sentence

  211. Invocation – a prayer for inspiration to a god or muse, usually placed at the beginning of an epic

  212. Irony – a discrepancy between what is and what seems to be

  213. Irony of situation (situational irony) – things turn out different than expected

  214. Kenning – a metaphorical compound used to replace a single noun (sea = whale-road)

  215. Lampoon – writing that satirizes and ridicules a person in a bitter manner through either poetry or prose

  216. Lead – the first sentence of a piece of writing

  217. Legend – a traditional narrative handed down through popular oral tradition to illustrate and celebrate a remarkable character, an important event, or to explain the unexplainable

  218. Lexicon – a word list or wordbook; a vocabulary; a dictionary

  219. Limerick – a short and usually comic verse form of five anapestic lines usually rhyming aabba

  220. Linguistics – the scientific study of language

  221. Linking verb – a verb that expresses a state of being; connects the subject of a sentence with a word in the predicate that explains or describes the subject (is, am, are, was, were)

  222. Literary ballad – ballads that are written down

  223. Literary epic – a created imitation of the oral folk epic, written by an author living in a society where writing has been invented

  224. Litote – conscious understatement to emphasize a point; using the negative to achieve intensity and emphasis (saying “not bad” for something that was done exceptionally well)

  225. Logos – appeals to logic

  226. Loose sentence – the main clause comes at the beginning of the sentence, followed by dependent clauses and phrases (The child ran as if being chased by demons.)

  227. Lyric poetry – a short poem expressing the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker

  228. Main idea – the opinion or idea the author wants to communicate

  229. Malapropism – an inappropriateness of speech resulting from the use of one word for another which resembles it (“Mind your own beeswax” for “Mind your own business”)

  230. Masculine rhyme – a rhyme of one syllable words, such as fox and socks, or in polysyllabic words, a rhyme on the stressed final syllables, such as contrive and survive

  231. Maxim – a general truth or rule of conduct (waste not, want not)

  232. Melodrama – the use of sentimentality, gushing emotion, sensational action, or plot twists to provoke audience or reader response

  233. Memo – writings that share information within a company, club, organization, or other group

  234. Memoir – account of an author’s relationship with a person, place, or animal

  235. Metaphor – a comparison that says that one thing is something else (Juliet is the sun.)

  236. Metaphysical poetry – poetry that uses logical elements to express honestly the poet’s sense of life’s complexities

  237. Meter – a recurrent, regular, rhythmic pattern in verse

  238. Metonymy – substituting the name of one thing for another that is closely associated with it (saying “the White House decided” actually means “the President decided”)

  239. Misplaced modifier – seems to modify the wrong word in the sentence (Mary found a sand dollar walking across the beach.)

  240. Mode – the form of the writing (letter, speech, editorial, essay, etc)

  241. Monologue – an extended speech by a single character; a solo speech that has listeners

  242. Monometer – one foot per line

  243. Monosyllabic foot – a foot, or unit of meter, that contains only one syllable

  244. Mood – the atmosphere of a work of literature; the emotion created by the work; created in large part by the setting (Gothic)

  245. Motif – an element that recurs significantly throughout a narrative; can be an image, idea, theme, situation, or action

  246. Myth – a story about the origins of a culture’s beliefs and practices, usually derived from oral tradition and set in an imagined supernatural past

  247. Narrative poem – a poem that tells a story

  248. Narrative writing (narration) – writing that tells a story to make a point

  249. Neologism – a new or invented word, expression, or usage

  250. Nominative case – a personal pronoun is used as a subject or predicate nominative (They left. / This is she.)

  251. Nostalgia – a yearning for the past or for some condition or state of existence that cannot be recovered

  252. Noun – a person, place, thing, or idea (student, home, dog, justice)

  253. Noun clause – a subordinate clause used as a subject, a predicate nominative, a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition (Whoever collects the most coins will win the contest.)

  254. Objective – unemotional, neutral writing that doesn’t provide interpretation; relies mainly on facts to present information; unbiased (There is a projector in the classroom.)

  255. Objective case – a personal pronoun used as the object of a verb, a verbal (infinitive, participle, or gerund), or preposition (The ending of the movie surprised me.)

  256. Octameter – eight feet per line

  257. Octave – an eight line stanza

  258. Ode – a serious lyric poem, often of significant length, that usually conforms to an elaborate metrical structure

  259. Onomatopoeia – a word that sounds like what it describes (buzz)

  260. Opinion – what one thinks about something (There are too many members in Congress.)

  261. Oral tradition – the tradition within a culture that transmits narratives by word of mouth from one generation to another

  262. Oration – a formal speech delivered in an impassioned manner

  263. Oxymoron – a two-word phrase made up of apparently contradictory elements (jumbo shrimp)

  264. Palindrome – writing that reads the same from left to right and from right to left (civic)

  265. Palinode – a piece of writing recanting or retracting a previous writing, particularly of an earlier ode

  266. Pamphlet – a short piece, usually on a current topic, issued as a separate publication

  267. Parable – a brief, usually allegorical narrative that teaches a moral (the Prodigal Son)

  268. Paradox – a statement that appears contradictory but may actually be true (To know how to win, you have to know how to lose.)

  269. Paragraph – a group of sentences that share a common topic or purpose

  270. Parallel Structure (parallelism) – the use of similar forms in writing for nouns, verbs, phrases, or thoughts (Jane likes reading, writing, and skiing.)

  271. Paraphrase – restating the content of a passage in such a way that the original meaning is retained

  272. Parody – a mocking imitation of a literary work or individual author’s style, usually for comic effect

  273. Participial Phrase – consists of a participle [verb form used as an adjective] and all the words related to the participle (a daring escape, the qualified instructor)

  274. Passive voice – the subject of the sentence receives the action denoted by the verb; always consists of a form of “to be” plus the past participle of the verb (The floor was swept by the janitor.)

  275. Past Participle – ends in –ed (the qualified instructor)

  276. Past perfect tense – used to express an action or a state of being that was completed in the past before some other action or event; formed with “had” and the verb’s past participle (She had walked the dog.)

  277. Past tense – used to express an action or a state of being that occurred in the past but that is not occurring now (She walked the dog.)

  278. Pastoral poetry – poetry that celebrates the simple, rustic life of shepherds/shepherdesses, written by a sophisticated, urban writer

  279. Pathos – a quality in a piece of writing that evokes high emotion, most commonly sorrow, pity, or compassion; appeals to emotion

  280. Pentameter – five feet per line

  281. Periodic sentence – the sentence isn’t complete until the end (The child, who looked as if she were being chased by demons, ran.)

  282. Periodical – any publication that appears at regular intervals

  283. Persona – the character an author assumes in a written work

  284. Personal pronouns – refers to the one speaking [first person], the one spoken to [second person], or the one spoken about [third person] (I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours, you, your, yours, he, him, his, she, her, hers, it, its, they, them, their, theirs)

  285. Personification – giving human characteristics to something nonhuman (The chair groaned when King Kong sat down.)

  286. Persuasive writing (persuasion) – writing that uses language to get readers to accept opinions, beliefs, or points of view

  287. Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet – a sonnet with an octave and a sestet and a rhyme scheme of abbaabba cdecde; shift in mood or tone occurs after the octave

  288. Plagiarism – using someone else’s words or ideas without giving proper credit to the person who wrote the original

  289. Plot – the particular arrangement of actions, events, and situations that unfold in a narrative

  290. Poetic license – the liberty that authors sometimes take with ordinary rules of syntax and grammar – employing unusual vocabulary, metrical devices, or figures of speech, or by committing factual errors – in order to strengthen a passage of writing

  291. Point of view – the perspective a narrative takes toward the events it describes

  292. Polysyndeton – use of more conjunctions than are necessary (I came and I saw and I conquered.)

  293. Portmanteau words – words formed by telescoping two words into one (smoke + fog = smog)

  294. Position paper – writing designed to influence policy decisions or to present a stand on a current issue

  295. Possessive case – personal pronouns used to show possession (That is my book.)

  296. Potboiler – something written solely for money

  297. Predicate adjective – an adjective that follows a linking verb and that modifies the subject of a verb (Jan is pretty.)

  298. Predicate nominative – a noun or pronoun that follows a linking verb and that renames or identifies the subject of the verb (Jan is a cheerleader.)

  299. Preposition – a word that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another word in the sentence (see handouts “Grammar, Mechanics, and Usage Review” or “Parts of Speech” for examples)

  300. Prepositional Phrase – begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or pronoun that is called the object of the preposition (to the store, for him)

  301. Prequel – a sequel that is set before the original

  302. Present Participle – ends in –ing (a daring escape)

  303. Present perfect tense – used to express an action or a state of being that occurred at some indefinite time in the past; formed with “have” or “has” and the verb’s past participle (She has walked the dog.)

  304. Present tense – used mainly to express an action or state of being that is occurring now (She walks the dog.)

  305. Prewriting – strategies that allow an author to consider several ideas before choosing a topic to develop into a full piece of writing, such as brainstorming, clustering, etc.

  306. Primary source – an original source, such as one’s diary or an eyewitness account

  307. Problem-solution essay – identifies an issue of importance and offers an idea for changing it (student tardiness to school)

  308. Process-analysis writing – writing that analyzes the steps in a process so the process can be understood more clearly to achieve the dual purpose of giving directions and providing information (how to change the oil)

  309. Profile – an essay that combines a biographical sketch and a character study of a contemporary figure

  310. Progressive form – expresses a continuing state of being; exists for each of the six verb tenses; consists of an appropriate tense of “to be” plus the verb’s present participle and also includes one or more helping verbs (She has been walking the dog.)

  311. Prologue – an introduction to a literary work

  312. Pronoun – a word used in place of a noun or more than one noun

  313. Proper adjectives – formed from a proper noun (French fries)

  314. Proper noun – names a particular person, place, thing, or idea; begins with a capital letter (Senator Johnson, Breathitt High School, Ms. Gross)

  315. Prose – any composition that is not written in verse

  316. Protagonist – the central character in a literary work; usually initiates the main action of the story (Harry Potter, Bella and Edward, Guy Montag)

  317. Proverb – a short, well-known saying stating a general truth (Many hands make light work.)

  318. Psalms – sacred songs

  319. Pseudonym – a false name sometimes assumed by writers and others

  320. Publishing / Presenting – sharing writing with others

  321. Pun – a play on words (The coach went to the bank to get his quarter back.)

  322. Purpose – the reason you are writing, typically to persuade, inform, narrate, or entertain

  323. Quatrain – a four line stanza

  324. Quotation – a passage that gives the actual words a speaker or writer has used in an article, book, speech, or conversation

  325. Redundant – excess repetition

  326. Reflexive pronouns – refers to the subject and directs the action of the verb back to the subject (myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, themselves)

  327. Refrain – a word, phrase, line, or stanza repeated at intervals in a song or poem

  328. Relative pronouns – introduces a subordinate clause (that, which, who, whom, whose)

  329. Requiem – a chant embodying a prayer for the repose of the dead

  330. Research paper – presents and interprets information gathered through an extensive study of a subject

  331. Resume – summarizes an applicant’s job, educational, and life experiences for potential employers

  332. Revising – reviewing the content of the writing to make necessary changes to ensure the audience’s needs have been met and the purpose has been achieved

  333. Rhetoric – strategies a writer uses to write effectively, and the study of those strategies

  334. Rhyme – two or more words that contain an identical or similar vowel sound with following consonant sounds that are also identical

  335. Rhyme scheme – any recurrent pattern of rhyme in a fixed form within an individual poem

  336. Rhythm – the pattern of stresses and pauses within a poem

  337. Rising action – the part of the narrative, including the exposition, in which events move toward the climax (all the action up to Romeo killing Tybalt)

  338. Rising meter – movement from unstressed to stressed syllables, includes iambic and anapestic

  339. Romance – a nonrealistic story that features idealized characters, improbable adventures, and exotic settings

  340. Rondel – a 13 line English verse form consisting of three stanzas rhymed with a refrain

  341. Round character – a character presented in depth and detail; often the central characters; are dynamic

  342. Run-on sentence – two or more complete sentences incorrectly punctuated as if they were one

  343. Satire – a work that exposes to ridicule the shortcomings of individuals, institutions, or society, often to make a political point

  344. Scansion – the art of scanning a line of poetry to identify the stresses in it

  345. Scenario – an outline giving the sequence of actions making up the plot and the appearances of principal characters

  346. Secondary source – a second-hand source, such as a biography or magazine article

  347. Semantics – the study of meaning; sometimes limited to linguistics, other times used to discriminate between superficiality and substance

  348. Sentence diagram – creating a diagram to show the function of words in a sentence

  349. Sequel – a literary work that continues from another

  350. Sestet – a six line stanza

  351. Seven deadly sins – pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust

  352. Seven liberal arts – grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy

  353. Shakespearean (English) sonnet – a sonnet with three quatrains and a concluding couplet and a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg; shift in mood or tone can occur after any quatrain, but typically occurs at line 9

  354. Simile – a comparison using like or as (Life is like a box of chocolates.)

  355. Simple sentence – one independent clause and no subordinate clause (There is a projector in the classroom.)

  356. Sketch – a short, static, descriptive composition; usually focuses on describing a person or place without providing a narrative

  357. Slant rhyme – rhyme with the ending consonant sound but differing vowel sounds (letter, litter)

  358. Soliloquy – an extended speech by a character alone onstage to allow the character to utter his/her thoughts aloud; gives the audience insight into the character

  359. Sonnet – a 14 line poem, written in iambic pentameter

  360. Spondee – a metrical foot of verse containing two stressed syllables

  361. Stanza – a recurring pattern of two or more lines of verse; poetry’s equivalent to a paragraph in prose

  362. Static character – a character who does not undergo significant changes during the course of a narrative

  363. Stock character – a common or stereotypical character that occurs frequently in literature (the mad scientist)

  364. Stream of consciousness – uses interior monologue to duplicate the subjective and associative nature of human consciousness (“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”)

  365. Stress – an emphasis or accent placed on a syllable in speech

  366. Style – how an author uses rhetoric; how the author writes

  367. Subject complement – a word or group of words that completes the meaning of a linking verb and that identifies or modifies the subject

  368. Subjective – emotional writing that does provide interpretation; relies mainly on opinions and emotional persuasive techniques; often biased (Using a projector as a teaching tool will improve student learning.)

  369. Subjunctive mood – used in clauses that begin with “if” or “that” to express an idea contrary to fact; used in clauses beginning with “that” to express a request, a demand, or a proposal (He wished that he were a better driver. / We ask that everyone be silent during the show.)

  370. Subordinate clause – does not express a complete thought and cannot stand alone as a sentence (Because there is a projector in the classroom, the teacher uses it every day.)

  371. Summary – condensing the ideas and content of a long passage into a few sentences or paragraphs; should be objective and accurate

  372. Supporting sentences – gives details that explain or prove the main idea

  373. Syllabus – an outline of the major heads of a book, course, argument, or program

  374. Symbol – a person, place, or thing in a narrative that suggest meanings beyond its literal sense

  375. Synecdoche – using a significant part of a thing to stand for the whole of it or vice versa (saying “wheels” for “car”)

  376. Synopsis – a brief summary or outline of a story or dramatic work

  377. Syntax – arrangement of words in a sentence

  378. Tall tale – a humorous short narrative that provides a wildly exaggerated version of events

  379. Tercet – a group of three lines, usually all ending with the same rhyme

  380. Terminal refrain – a refrain that appears at the end of each stanza in a song or poem

  381. Terza rima – a verse form made up of three-line stanzas that are connected by an overlapping rhyme scheme, aba bcb cdc ded etc

  382. Testimony – evidence offered in support of a claim or assertion

  383. Tetrameter – four feet per line

  384. Theme – a generally recurring subject or idea conspicuously evident in a literary work

  385. Thesis statement – a comprehensive sentence that summarizes and previews the main idea the author is going to develop in the essay. A strong thesis statement takes a stand, justifies discussion, expresses one main idea, and is specific. (Because elderly drivers pose a risk to other motorists, state legislators should revise driving policies.)

  386. Third person limited point of view – the narrator conveys the actions, feelings, and motivations of a single character using proper names and third person pronouns

  387. Third person omniscient point of view – the narrator conveys the actions, feelings, and motivations of all the characters using proper names and third person pronouns

  388. Tone – the author’s attitude

  389. Topic sentence – states the main idea of a paragraph

  390. Tragic flaw – a fatal weakness or moral flaw in the protagonist that brings him or her to a bad end

  391. Tragic hero – a protagonist who makes an error in judgment resulting in a tragic downfall with consequences worse that s/he deserves

  392. Transitions – words that connect ideas and show relationships between those ideas (However, Furthermore, First, Second, Third)

  393. Transitive verb – an action verb that expresses an action directed toward a person or thing (John washed the car. Bob saw Sally.)

  394. Tricolon – series of three parallel words, phrases, or clauses (by the people, for the people, of the people)

  395. Trimeter – three feet per line

  396. Triolet – a short lyric form of eight rhymed lines, a from borrowed from the French

  397. Trochaic – a line made up primarily of trochees [a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable]

  398. Unreliable narrator – a narrator who, intentionally or unintentionally, relates events in a subjective or distorted manner; the author usually provides some indication early in the story that the narrator is not to be completely trusted (the murderer in “The Tell-Tale Heart”)

  399. Utopia – an imaginary, idealized world presented in literature

  400. Verb – a word that expresses an action or a state of being

  401. Verb tense – indicates the time of the action or the state of being expressed by the verb

  402. Verbal irony – a character says one thing but means something else

  403. Verisimilitude – quality of a literary work appearing true to life

  404. Verse – any single line of poetry

  405. Vignette – a sketch or brief narrative characterized by precision and delicacy

  406. Villanelle – a French poetic form that contains six rhymed stanzas, five tercets and one quatrain, with lines 1 and 3 of each tercet rhyming along with the final two lines of the quatrain

  407. Voice – an author’s individual way of using language to reflect his/her own attitudes and personality

  408. Vulgate – unschooled, everyday language; language of the common people; lowest level of formality in language

  409. Wit – a form of wordplay that displays cleverness or ingenuity with language

  410. Writing Process – the steps used to complete a piece of writing, consisting of prewriting, drafting, revising, editing/proofreading, and publishing/presenting

  411. Zeugma – Use of a word to modify or govern two or more words although its use may be grammatically or logically correct with only one ("You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit." From Star Trek: The Next Generation)




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