Glossary of Literary Terms and Devices



Dissonance: discord or incongruity of sounds

Double Entendre: deliberate ambiguity as to the meaning of a phrase, with one meaning being straightforward and another meaning often being risqué

Elision: the omitting of one or more sounds in a word, may be used to portray a character’s actual speech or to preserve a rhythm in poetry; contractions are examples of elision

Epanalepsis: where a phrase begins and ends with the same wording, lending emphasis; “He is noticeable for nothing in the world except for the markedness by which he is noticeable for nothing” from Poe’s “The Literati of New York City”

Epigraph: motto or quotation at the beginning of a book, poem, chapter, etc. that often indicates the theme

Epithet: a word or phrase added to or substituted for the name of a deity or person

Eponym: a name (from a person, real or fictitious) so commonly associated with the attributes of its owner that it comes to symbolize those attributes; Benedict Arnold is associated with treason

Equivocate: to use ambiguous or unclear expressions, usually to mislead and deceive

Hyperbole: use of exaggeration or overstatement to heighten effect, not to be taken literally

Imagery: literary references to sensory impressions, making for immediacy and vividness; forms of compressed representation that work through comparison, allusion, or suggestion; tactile (touch), olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), kinesthetic (sensations of movement)

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