AP Lit Terms "Abstract" to "Conceit"

Abstract/Concrete
classifications of imagery

Adage
a familiar proverb or saying

Allegory
a literary work in which characters, objects, or actions, represent abstractions

Alliteration
the repetition of initial sounds in successive or neighboring words

Allusion
a reference to something literary, mythological, or historical that the author assumes the reader will recognize

Ambiguity
purposeful multiple meanings, as in pun and double entendre

Anachronism
an event object, custom, person, or thing that is out of its natural order in time

Anacoluthon
breaking off a sentence using “…”

Analogy
a comparison of two different things that are similar in some way

Anaphora
the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of consecutive lines or sentences

Anecdote
brief narrative that focuses on a particular incident or event

Antagonist
person or force working against the protagonist

Antecedent
the word, phrase, or clause to which a pronoun refers

Anthropomorphism
an animal that takes on human characteristics (walking, talking, etc.)

Antihero
a central character or protagonist that lacks traditional qualities or virtues

Antithesis
a statement in which two opposing or contrasting ideas are balanced

Apostrophe
a device used wherein a character addresses a dead, absent, or imaginary person, thing or personified abstraction

Archetype
a detail, image, or character type that occurs frequently in literature and myth and is thought to be considered universal

Argument
a statement of the meaning of meaning or main point of a literary work

Aside
in drama, a convention by which actors speak briefly to the audience, supposedly without being heard by the other actors on stage

Assonance
repetition of a vowel sound

Asyndeton
a construction in which elements are presented in a series without conjunctions

Atmosphere
effect of physical environment; the pervasive mood or tone

Ballad
a form of narrative poetry that presents a single dramatic episode. Folk ballads were originally sung or recited. Ballads are song-like and often have refrains

Ballad Stanza
a patterned stanza in a ballad

Bathos
insincere or overly sentimental quality of writing/speech intended to evoke pity

Bildungsroman
German term meaning “development novel”; the protagonist may or may not be young, but will go through a maturation process from innocence/naiveté to a point of realization

Blank Verse
unrhymed iambic pentameter

Cacophony
sonic device, the use of harsh and displeasing sounds. The opposite of eupohony

Cadence
in a general sense, the beat or rhythm of poetry

Canon
the collective works of a particular author, or a collective core of representative works in a genre

Canto
like a chapter in a novel, a division in a long epic or narrative poem

Caricature
the exaggeration of specific features of appearance or personality

Carpe diem
Latin for “seize the day”. This is used to emphasize the brevity of life and the finality of death

Catharsis
an outpouring of emotions, a “cleansing.” Aristotle said tragedy provided the audience with the opportunity to purge the emotions of pity and fear

Caesura
a pause in a line of poetry resulting from a pause in the natural rhythm of the language and not necessarily indicated by punctuation

Central Idea
core of a writer’s assertion

Character
a fictional entity in a literary wor

Dynamic character
one that has a significant change in the story

Round character
a well-developed character

Static character
one that stays the same throughout the story

Flat character
a character that is not fully developed

Characterization
the method by which an author creates the appearance and personality of imaginary persons and reveals their character. Considerations for the development of a character are direct description, the character’s actions, and external events or other characters that affect the character’s “inner-self.”

Chiasmus
a statement consisting of two parallel parts in which the second part is structurally reversed. (“Susan walked in, and out rushed Mary.”)

Cliché
an expression that has been overly used to the extent that it’s freshness has worn off

Climax
the point of highest interest in a literary work

Colloquialism
informal words or expressions not usually acceptable in formal writing

Comedy
literary genre in which the situation begins badly, progresses well and the hero triumphs

Comic Relief
a way to lighten a narrative. Adding humor to the story

Conceit
a “startling” extended metaphor., comparing two vastly different things