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Literary Terms. Pre-AP/GT 1 st 6 Weeks. Diction- words chosen by author to convey effect and meaning to the reader High Diction -elevated tone, no slang, idioms, or contractions. Elegant word choice

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Literary Terms

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literary terms

Literary Terms


1st 6 Weeks


Diction- words chosen by author to convey effect and meaning to the reader

High Diction-elevated tone, no slang, idioms, or contractions. Elegant word choice

Ex. “Discerning the impracticable state of the poor culprit’s mind, the elder clergyman addressed to the multitude a discourse on sin, in all its branches, but with continual reference to the ignominious letter.” The Scarlet Letter


Neutral Diction- standard language without elaborate words, may have contractions.

Ex. “The shark swung over and the old man saw his eye was not alive and then he swung over once again, wrapping himself in two loops of the rope.” The Old Man and the Sea

Low or Informal Diction-language of everyday use, relaxed, includes idioms, slang, jargon, and contractions

Ex. Three quarts of milk. Now they ain’t none. Not a drop. What the devil does anybody need with three quarts of milk?


Types of Diction

Slang-recently coined words that come and go quickly “Sick!” “Fresh Dude!”

Colloquialisms- regional ways of using language…southerners say “Ya’ll” and northerners say “You guys”

Idioms- expressions that mean something different than the meaning of the individual words Burning the midnight oil=staying up late


Tone- the attitude a writer takes toward a subject. It might be humorous, serious, bitter, angry, or detached among other possibilities.

Point of View (POV)-

First Person- “I”

Third Person- Narrator that is not a participant in the action

“He, she, it, they etc….”

Third Person Omniscient-narrator is all knowing about thoughts and feelings of characters

Third Person Limited-writer presents events as experienced by only one character

Author’s Purpose- purpose for writing: express thoughts or feelings, inform, persuade, entertain


Irony- literary techniques that involve surprising or interesting contradictions

Verbal Irony- speaker or narrator says one thing while meaning the opposite

“It is easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it many times.”

Situational Irony- situation turns out differently than one would expect.

A deep sea diver drowns in the bathtub.

Dramatic Irony- the reader or audience knows something a character does not know.

Romeo does not realize Juliet is sleeping and kills himself.


Simile- comparison of two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”

The rugby ball was like a giant egg.

Metaphor-comparison of two unlike things without using the words “like” or “as”

You are the wind beneath my wings.

  • An allusion is a reference to a mythological, literary, or historical person place or thing
  • "I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the Planet Earth."(Obama)
  • a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc., especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work.
  • Motif examples include but are not limited to seasons, water, food, wisdom, forests, oceans, journeys, reunions, shapes
  • The use of hints or clues to suggest future action in a piece of literature
  • “Bobby Martin began to stuff his pockets with stones. Then the other boys did, too.”
  • A scene that interrupts the action of a work to show a previous event