Glossary of Terms








A group of words which begin with the same letter

Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers


A brief (personal) story to illustrate a point



A final item in a list or story which seems out of place. The effect of using anti-climax could be to create humour



The meaning or main point the writer wants to get across



A group of words which contain the same vowel

The roar soared over to the shore


The building up of a convincing character through dialogue, action, reaction to other characters


Colloquial language

Informal writing

Eg calling a potato a ‘spud’


The association that a word brings to our mind rather than the literal meaning (see denotation)

Eg “gold” has connotations of success, riches


The surrounding sentence or paragraph in which a word appears.



The dictionary definition of a word or term

Eg “gold” a precious metal …


Conversation between characters



The impression you get from a piece of writing



The use of three dots … to represent interruption, hesitation or indecision, at the end of a sentence they can be used to suggest an unfinished list or to create tension, suspense, cliff hanger.

I saw the boulder falling from the sky…

Emotive language

Words or phrases which arouse an emotional response

Eg ‘the poor defenceless animals’


In poetry this is where the idea in one line runs down into the next line or from one verse into another. This breaking can draw attention to words at the beginning and ends of the line.


Figurative language

Where the meaning isn’t the same as the literal meaning

It was raining cats and dogs


A minor event early in a text can foreshadow a major event which can come later.

In ‘Of Mice and Men’ Lennie kills a mouse, then a puppy, then Curly’s wife.


The type or category of literature

Poem, play, novel …



I’ve been told a million times to improve my writing

Imagery / images

Descriptive words which create a picture in your head

The boy’s bedroom looked like a bombed out pigsty


A second level of meaning which is implied by the words but not stated



Not what is intended happens – the opposite of what you mean or say



Specialised language belonging to a group eg computer

Byte, hard drive etc …

Literal / Literally

When a word or phrase means what is says.

“My teacher went through the roof” is metaphorical unless he is literally shot through it!


The opposite of hyperbole which is when something is overstated. This is understatement.

John is not the sharpest knife in the drawer …. This may understate how foolish John is!


One thing is compared to another without using ‘like’ or ‘as’

He’s a wizard at maths


Words which copy the sound they describe

Sizzle, crash …


The placing side by side of two opposites or contradictions in order to create impact.

A deafening silence …

A bitter sweet romance …

First person narrative

The story is told from the point of view of one character


Third person narrative

The story is told by a narrator

He, she …


Two opposites are placed side by side to create a new meaning

Bitter sweet

Parallel structure

The writer creates a pattern of words or phrases in such a way that the whole has greater impact than its parts.

It is by logic we prove but by intuition we discover.

(Da Vinci)


A statement which seems to contradict itself – an element of mystery

You always hurt the ones you love


Parenthesis can be found between two dashes, two commas or brackets. Additional supportive information is inserted which if removed would leave a sentence which makes sense.

There are many (some easier than others) terms to learn in English.


Objects are given human characteristics

The engine coughed into life


Writing or broadcasting designed to persuade people to a point of view



Writing which is not in verse

Novels, short stories


Repeated words or phrases to create an emphasis. Sometimes the repetition builds up to a climax.

A good student needs … a good student hopes … but above all a good student …

Rhetorical Question

A question which does not expect a direct answer probably because the questioner already knows the answer.

Who wants to see children suffer?


Using pairs of words, usually at the end of lines, with the same sound



The pulse felt within a line of poetry through alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.



Uttering the opposite of what is meant – unlike irony there is usually a ‘mean edge’ to the remark

My good friend the Traffic Warden …


Two things are compared using ‘like’ or ‘as’

His hands were as cold as ice


A unit within a poem, a verse.



The way a writer writes creating effects through the use of imagery, anecdotes, word choice ..


Symbol / Symbolism

A word which can stand for something else

A flower can be a symbol of love


An alternative word for the same thing

Happy, cheerful


The central idea of a text



The way in which something is said, tone is created through word choice, emotive language, persuasive language etc…


Word Choice

The word or expression a writer chooses in order to communicate or to create an effect.

“outraged” suggests he was shocked or very angry by what had happened




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