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abstract
(n.) an abbreviated synopsis of a longer work of a longer work of scholarship or research. (adj.) Dealing with or tending to deal with a subject apart from a particular or specific instance
ad hominem
Directed to or appealing to feelings or prejudices instead of to intellect or reason
adage
a saying or proverb containing a truth based on experience and often couched in metaphorical language (e.g. “there is more than one way to skin a cat”)
allegory
a story in which a second meaning is to be read beneath the surface
alliteration
the repetition of one or more initial consonants in a group of words or lines in a poem
allusion
a reference to a person, place, or event meant to create an effect or enhance the meaning an idea
ambiguity
a vagueness of meaning; a conscious lack of clarity meant to evoke multiple meanings or interpretations
anachronism
a person, scene, event, or other element that fails to correspond with the appropriate time or era (e.g. Columbus sailing to the United States)
analogy
a comparison that points out similarities between two dissimilar things; a passage that points out several similarities between two unlike things is called an extended analogy
anecdote
a brief narrative often used to illustrate an idea or make a point
annotation
a brief explanation, summary, or evaluation of a text or work literature
antagonist
a character or force in a work of literature that, by opposing the protagonist, produces tension or conflict
antecedent
a word to which a pronoun refers
antithesis
a rhetorical opposition or contrast of ides by means of a grammatical arrangement of words, clauses, or sentences, as in the following: “They promised freedom but provided slavery.” “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
aphorism
a short, pithy statement of a generally accepted truth or sentiment. Also see adage and maxim
Apollonian
In contrast to Dionysian, it refers to the most noble , godlike qualities of human nature and behavior
apostrophe
a locution that addresses a person or personified thing not present (e.g. “oh you cruel streets of Manhattan, how I detest you!”
arch
(adj.) characterized by clever or sly humor, often saucy, playful, and sometimes irreverent
archetype
an abstract or ideal conception of a type; a perfectly typical example; an original model or form
assonance
the repetition of two or more vowel sounds in a group of words in prose or poetry
bard
a poet; in olden times, a performer who told heroic stories to musical accompaniment
bathos
insincere or overdone sentimentality
belle-lettres
a French term for the world of books, criticism, and literature in general
bibliography
a list of works cited or otherwise relevant to a particular subject
bombast
inflated, pretentious language
burlesque
a work of literature meant to ridicule a subject; grotesque imitation
cacophony
grating, inharmonious sounds
canon
the works considered most important in a national literature or period; works widely read and studied
caricature
a grotesque or exaggerated likeness of striking qualities in persons and things
carpe diem
literally, “seize the day”; “enjoy life while you can,” a common theme in life and literature
circumlocution
literally, “talking around” a subject; i.e., discourse that avoids direct reference to a subject
classic
a highly read work of literature or other art form that has withstood the test of time
classical, classicism
deriving from the orderly qualities of ancient Greek and Roman culture; implies formality, objectivity, simplicity, and restraint
clause
a structural element of a sentence, consisting of a grammatical subject and a predicate. Independent clauses, sometimes called main clauses, may stand on their own as complete sentences; dependent clauses, which are used as nouns or modifiers, are incomplete sentences and cannot stand alone grammatically. Dependent clauses are sometimes called subordinate clauses. Dependent clauses that functions as adjectives, nouns, or adverbs are known, respectively, as adjectives, noun, and adverbial clauses
climax
the high point, or turning point, of a story or play
comparison and contrast
a mode of discourse in which two or more things are compared and contrasted. Comparison often refers to similarities, contrast to differences
conceit
a witty or ingenious thought; a diverting or highly fanciful idea, often stated in figurative language
concrete detail
a highly specific, particular, often real, actual, or tangible detail; the opposite of abstract
connotation
the suggested or implied meaning of a word or phrase. Contrast with denotation
consonance
the repetition of two or more sounds in a group of words or unit of speech or writing
critique
an analysis or assessment of a thing or situation for the purpose of determining its nature, limitations, and conformity to a set of standards
cynic
one who expects and observes nothing by the worst of human conduct
deductive reasoning
a method of reasoning by which specific definitions, conclusions, and theorems are drawn from general principles. Its opposite is inductive reasoning
denotation
the dictionary definition of a word. Contrasts with connotation
dénouement
the resolution that occurs at the end of a narrative or drama, real, or imagined
descriptive detail
graphic, exact, and accurate presentation of the characteristics of a person, place, or a thing
dues ex machina
in literature, the use of an artificial device or gimmick to solve a problem
diction
the choice of words in oral and written discourse
didactic
having an instructive purpose; intending to convey information or teach a lesson, usually in a dry, pompous manner
digression
that portion of discourse that wanders or departs from the main subject or topic
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