Why are we doing this?

  • Literary terms are the "language of the discipline." They will help you to analyze literature and discuss it in an educated way.
  • "The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor." Aristotle

Learning Targets

I can define, identify, and use in my own writing:
  • Figurative Language: metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, understatement, oxymoron, euphemism, cliché
  • Word play: pun
  • Other literary terms: allusion, irony, paradox, parallelism

I can define and identify:
  • Types and features of comedy: farce, parody, satire, foil
  • Types of symbolic literature: allegory, fable, parable


  • Figurative language = figures of speech = rhetorical devices. Basic definition: words used NOT according to their literal meaning, but in another way - metaphor, simile, eurphemism, etc. - for dramatic or descriptive emphasis.

Brief definitions and examples, in alphabetical order:
  • allegory - a story in which people, things or happenings have a symbolic meaning; used in teaching; ex. Pilgrim's Progress Allegory: Allegory vs. Symbolsim, Parable vs. Fable
  • allusion - casual reference to a to a well-known literary or historic figure our event
  • cliché - overused expression
  • euphemism - to substitute a more polite word for a crude one. Ex. "he passed away," "they are going to the powder room"
  • fable - a story in which animals or other creatures are used to teach a lesson
  • farce - comedy that depends on physical comedy or slapstick
  • hyperbole - exaggeration for effect; ex. "I waited forever for him," "the world ended the day my father died"
  • irony - 1) mocking sarcasm (vwords are the opposite of their literal meaning, or verbal irony); 2) a situation or result is the opposite of what was expected or intended
  • metaphor - comparison of two unlike things, NOT using "like" or "as"; ex. "screaming headlines," "it stirred our emotions," "life is a lark."
  • onomatopaeia - word that imitates the sound it represents; ex. "buzz," "clack," "hiss"
  • oxymoron - juxtaposing two words that seem to be opposites, ex. "deafening silence" Oxymorons Serendipitous Oxymoron creator
  • parable - a story that uses a simple example to teach a moral or religious lesson, ex. Jesus' parables in the Bible
  • paradox - a statement that seems contradictory but may be true
  • parallelism - expressing two ideas of equal importance through parallel phrasing; ex. "we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and on the streets, we shall fight in the hills ..." (from Winston Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches" speech)
  • parody - imitation of a literary or artistic work in order to mock or ridicule it in a humorous way
  • personification - giving human characterisitcs to non-human things; ex. "the book begged to be read," "the ocean screamed its fury" Personification Serendipitous Personification creator; classics Personification classics and practice
  • pun - humorous use of double meanings of words (homophones)
  • satire - literary work that ridicules human incompetence, stupidity, folly, vice, evil, abuse or corruption; points out the flaws of a person or institution
  • simile - comparison of two unlike things using "like" or "as" Simile Serendipitous Simile creator
  • understatement -

Optional: comment for page history

[[#|Looking for tags?]]
Save DraftText EditorPreviewSave[[#|Cancel]]
Tagging pages is now done in a new place. Once you have saved your changes, click on the "Page" tab and select "Details and Tags". || external image c.gif || ||
external image bBL.gif