Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

Glossary

  • Page ID
    100896
  • Example and Directions
    Words (or words that have the same definition) The definition is case sensitive (Optional) Image to display with the definition [Not displayed in Glossary, only in pop-up on pages] (Optional) Caption for Image (Optional) External or Internal Link (Optional) Source for Definition
    (Eg. "Genetic, Hereditary, DNA ...") (Eg. "Relating to genes or heredity") The infamous double helix https://bio.libretexts.org/ CC-BY-SA; Delmar Larsen
    Glossary Entries

    Word(s)

    Definition

    Image Caption Link Source
    Abstract referring to ideas or concepts that we think with our minds        
    Action the physical movements of actors        
    Actors people performing a play        
    Allegory a kind of story in which abstract concepts (such as love, war, or death) became objects, characters, or places in the story; usually didactic (meant to impart a lesson)        
    Alliteration multiple words in a row which start with the same sound (vowel or consonant)        
    Allusion an indirect reference, usually to another work, outside of the text, without explicitly naming the reference point        
    Anagnorisis the scene of recognition in a Tragedy, as described in Aristotle’s Poetics        
    Analysis the breaking apart of anything into its composite parts for close examination        
    Anapest a metrical foot with two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable        
    Annotated Bibliography a tool to help you keep track of your research by creating a Works Cited page in which every source is summarized after the bibliographical entry        
    Antagonist an opposing force to the protagonist        
    Anthropomorphism imbuing a nonhuman entity with human behaviors or attributes        
    Antihero a type of protagonist who may not have the moral uprightness required of a hero; this character usually elicits the sympathy of their audience, but may be morally unscrupulous in their methods        
    Archetype an original pattern or model for a type of character, object, narrative, etc.        
    Audience people viewing a play or reading a literary work        
    Ballad a poem that tells a story and is written in quatrains, most commonly with an A B C B rhyme scheme; the first and third lines contain eight syllables, while the second and fourth lines contain six        
    Beat a stressed syllable        
    Caesura a pause or break within the line of a poem        
    Canonical referring to a work that is officially decided to constitute literature, making it part of the Literary Canon (a collection of works that are considered by the powers that be to constitute literature)        
    Catharsis the purgation of emotion, usually pity and fear, at the end of a play        
    Character an imaginary personage who acts, appears, or is referred to in a story        
    Characterization the strategies that an author uses to present and develop the characters in a narrative        
    Claim an argument backed up with evidence that supports the idea        
    Classical Unities in drama, the unities of action, time, and place         
    Climax the turning point of a story; the incident that allows the main conflict of a story to resolve        
    Concrete referring to specific, individual things we can feel with our five senses and that call an exact image into our mind’s eye        
    Conflict the tension in a literary work created by opposition between one or more of the following: (1) protagonist vs. antagonist (2) protagonist vs. self (3) protagonist vs. environment (4) protagonist vs. society, or some other oppositional relationship        
    Connotation the non-literal meaning we associate with words        
    Content the message that is written in a literary work        
    Couplet two adjoining lines of poetry which share an end rhyme        
    Creative Nonfiction true stories that contain all of the literary adornments that fiction does (literary devices, skilled writing, etc.)        
    Crossed Rhyme the rhyming of one word in the middle of a verse line with a word in the middle of the following line        
    Dactyl a metrical foot with a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables        
    Denotation the dictionary definition of a word        
    Dénouement the unraveling of a plot, a resolution to a story; in the dénouement, the central conflict is resolved         
    Dialogue a conversation between two or more people        
    Diction word choice        
    Double Rhyme a rhyme on two syllables, the first stressed, the second unstressed        
    Drama literature in which action is performed and all words are spoken before an audience by actors impersonating the characters        
    End Rhyme rhyme occurring on stressed syllables at the ends of verse lines        
    End-stopped when a line of poetry ends with a form of punctuation, or with a complete phrase        
    Enjambed when a line of poetry does not end with punctuation        
    Evidence in a literature essay, quotes or paraphrasing from authoritative primary or secondary sources, which supports the paragraph main idea, as well as the thesis main idea; usually, one quote or paraphrase per paragraph is an effective use of evidence        
    Exposition the part of a story that introduces the setting and the main characters; the exposition also hints at the themes and conflicts that will develop later in the story        
    External Conflict when two individuals or groups of individuals clash        
    Eye Rhyme a visual-only rhyme; i.e. when spellings match but in pronunciation there is no rhyme        
    Falling Action the events that take place after the climax of a story; these events show the results of the climax, and they act as a bridge between the climax and the dénouement        
    Fiction a story invented from the imagination of a writer        
    Figurative Language the use of words or expressions not meant to be taken literally        
    Flashback a device used to give the reader background information that happened in the past        
    Focalisation the perspective through which a narrative is presented        
    Foil a character which, through juxtaposition, reveals something about another character; a kind of shadow character        
    Foot each complete unit of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry        
    Form how a literary work is arranged; the language used to send the message        
    Genre a means of categorization for works of literature based on the style of writing; the most common genres of literature are creative nonfiction, fiction, drama and poetry        
    Hamartia the “fatal flaw” which brings about the downfall of a tragedy’s hero        
    Hyperbole an exaggeration for rhetorical effect        
    Iamb the most common metrical foot in English with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one        
    Iambic Pentameter a style of poetic meter in which five sets of iambs (or ten syllables) appear per line of poem        
    If-then Statement a strategy for making inferences by establishing a cause-and-effect relationship        
    Imagery descriptive, immersive details meant to paint a picture in the reader’s mind; the five kinds of description follow the five senses: auditory (sound), tactile (touch), gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell), and visual (sight)        
    Inciting Incident the event that sets the main conflict into motion in a story        
    Inference a conclusion you reach by applying logic to the evidence you are given        
    Internal Conflict a struggle that takes place within an individual        
    Internal Rhyme rhyme occurring within a single verse line        
    Internalized Setting a setting in which an aspect of the story external to a character represents the character's internal development        
    Inverted Syntax when writers disrupt the grammatical order of words in unusual ways        
    Irony a meaning or outcome contrary to what is expected; the three types of irony are dramatic (when the reader or audience knows something characters don’t), situational (when a character holds a position or has an expectation that is reversed or fulfilled in an unexpected way), and verbal (when a speaker or narrator says one thing and means the reverse)        
    Kairos the temporal and cultural context of a piece of rhetoric        
    Line in poetry, one of the units of structure in verse; lines/rows work as both a unit of sensibility and music        
    Literary Critic a person who studies and analyzes literature        
    Literary Criticism scholarship produced by literary critics, such as articles analyzing literature        
    Literary Devices literary techniques used by authors, such as metaphor, simile, personification, and imagery        
    Love Interest a character who is a (potential) partner in love for the protagonist        
    Meme an image or video containing cultural values or ideas, often represented through allusion        
    Messenger a character who delivers news        
    Metaphor the use of figurative language to describe one object using another for rhetorical effect, without using the words "like" or "as"        
    Meter the rhythmical pattern of a poem, determined by stressed and unstressed syllables        
    Metonymy when one thing is represented by another thing associated with it        
    Minor Character a secondary or side character in a story who sometimes supports the protagonist or antagonist in their struggles        
    Monologue when one character delivers a speech to convey his or her thoughts        
    Mood the general feeling conveyed by a story        
    Motif a recurring element in a story        
    Narrative a story, an account of a series of related events or experiences        
    Narrator the speaker of the story, who may be a character within the story or an objective, unnamed narrator; the perspective from which the story is told        
    Objectively in an impartial manner, free of individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings        
    Ode a poem written in praise of its subject        
    Omniscient Narrator a narrator who has a God's eye view and can get into different characters' heads and perspectives, seeing the story in a way that would not be possible in real life        
    Para-rhyme a form of half rhyme when all the consonants of the relevant words match, not just the final consonants        
    Pentameter a line of five feet in poetry        
    Penultimate second to last        
    Peripeteia the reversal of fortune which occurs to a tragic hero        
    Personification giving human qualities to animals or objects for the sake of imagery        
    Play a work of literature which is meant to be performed by actors rather than simply read        
    Playwright an author who writes plays        
    Plot the events or action of a story, and the order in which the events are told        
    Poetry patterned arrangement of language to generate rhythm and thereby both express and evoke specific emotions in a concentrated way        
    Prewriting activities used by writers to get their ideas for writing        
    Props articles or objects on a stage during a play that are sometimes symbolic        
    Prose Poem a literary work that isn’t broken into verse but contains many of the elements of poetry: figures of speech, musical language, internal rhyme, repetition, condensed syntax, and imagery        
    Prosody the musical component of language that projects the speaker’s voice and breath        
    Protagonist the main character of a story, who is often but not always the hero of the story        
    Quatrain a stanza of four lines        
    Reasonable Conclusion an inference that is the result of reasoned thinking, not emotional reactions        
    Repetition a powerful rhetorical device that involves intentionally using similar events in the plot, similar descriptions, or the same word or phrase multiple times        
    Revision making changes to major elements in a paper and improving the overall argument         
    Rhetorical Devices words that serve a special function in the text in order to convey meaning to the reader        
    Rhyme Scheme the pattern of rhymes at the end of each line of a poem        
    Rhythm patterns of sound caused by the way some words or syllables are stressed more than others in speech        
    Rising Action a series of events that build up to the climax of a story by introducing secondary conflicts and creating tension in the story        
    Roundel an English form of poetry consisting of eleven lines in three stanzas with no set meter; the first part of line one repeats at the end of the first stanza and again as the last line of poem, with a rhyme scheme of A B A R–B A B–A B A R (in which R stands for “refrain”)        
    Sets the design, decoration, and scenery on a stage during a play        
    Setting the place(s) where the action of the story or poem takes place        
    Simile a figurative use of language in which one thing is compared to another using the words, similar to a metaphor except it uses the words “like” or “as”        
    Slant Rhyme also known as a half rhyme, an incomplete form of rhyme in which final consonants match but vowel sounds do not        
    Soliloquy a speech made by one character but delivered when he or she is alone on stage        
    Sonnet a fourteen-line poem that contains a volta, or a turn in thought, which can sometimes be indicated with the words “but” or “yet”        
    Spondee a two-syllable metrical foot that has two equally stressed beats        
    Stage the physical space upon which actors move in a play        
    Stage Directions written instructions in a script that inform how to stage, perform, or imagine a play        
    Stanza a poem paragraph: that is, a poem may be divided into clumps of lines for rhetorical effect        
    Story an account of imaginary or real people and events        
    Subjectively in a biased manner based on personal perspectives, feelings, beliefs, and desires        
    Symbolism the use of a physical object to represent an abstract idea        
    Synecdoche figurative language in which a part stands in for the whole        
    Syntax the order of words in a sentence        
    Tercet a stanza of three lines        
    Tetrameter a line of four feet        
    Theme the main idea(s) of a work of literature        
    Tone the attitude or mood of a literary work, and the style of narration        
    Topic Sentence a one-sentence summary at the beginning of a body paragraph that explains the main idea and suggests generally what the paragraph will talk about to support the essay's overall thesis; often includes a transition from previous paragraphs        
    Tragic Hero the focal character of a tragedy, who is mostly good but due to some flaw (hamartia) is doomed to fall; the character must go through plot elements such as peripeteia, anagnorisis, and ultimately result in catharsis         
    Trochee the second most common metrical foot in English with a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one        
    Unreliable Narrator a first-person narrator of a work of literature who is not to be trusted; they may be morally questionable or dishonest, or have a flaw which makes them difficult to understand for the reader        
    Verse lines of poetry        
    Villanelle a French form of poetry that consists of five tercets and a final quatrain; the first stanza’s first and third lines repeat in an alternating pattern as the last line in the subsequent stanzas, and in the final quatrain, the two lines that have been repeating throughout the poem form the final two lines of the poem        
    Volta a turn in thought, emotion, or rhetoric        
    Wise Elder an old man or figure of wisdom who guides the protagonist in a play        
    Writing Process the steps involved in writing an essay, which may include reading, prewriting, researching, outlining, drafting, revising, seeking feedback, re-revising, and publishing        
    Zeitgeist spirit of the times        
    • Was this article helpful?