AP Lit terms
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TermDefinition99H1010H1111H12DUAP LA
AP LIT
SPCWR
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abstractan abbreviated synopsis of a longer work of scholarship or research
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adagea saying or proverb containing a truth based on experience and often couched in metaphorical languageS
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allegorya story in which the narrative or characters carry an underlying symbolic, metaphorical, or possibly an ethical meaningMK,SWGSK
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alliterationthe repetition of one or more initial consonants in a group of words or lines of poetry or proseM,SK,SWGSKH
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allusiona reference to a person, place, or event meant to create an effect or enhance the meaning of an ideaMK,SGSKHH
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ambiguitya vagueness of meaning; a conscious lack of clarity meant to evoke multiple meanings and interpretationK,SWSKH
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anachronisma person, scene, event, or other element in literature that fails to correspond with the time or era in which the work is setM,SKWS
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analogya comparison that points out similarities between two dissimilar thingsM,SK,SWSKH
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annotationa brief explanation, summary, or evaluation of a text or work of literatureM,SK,SWGSKHH
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antagonista character or force in a work of literature that, by opposing the protagonist produces tension or conflictM,SK,SWGSKH
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antithesisa rhetorical opposition or contrast of ideas by means of a grammatical arrangement of words, clauses, or sentences:"They promised freedom but provided slavery."SK
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aphorisma short, pithy statement of a generally accepted truth or sentimentSWGK
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Apollonianin contrast to Dionysian, it refers to the most noble, god-like qualities of human nature and behavior
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apostrophea locution that addresses a person or personified thing not presentMSK
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archetypean abstract or ideal conception of a type; a perfectly typical example; an original model or formM,SK,SWGSH
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assonancethe repetition of two or more vowel sounds in a group of words or lines in poetry and proseM,SK,SWSKH
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ballada simple narrative verse that tells a story that is sung or recitedWSH
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barda poet; in olden times, a performer who told heroic stories to musical accompanimentK,SWH
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bathosthe use of insincere or overdone sentimentality
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belle-lettresFrench term for the world of books, criticism, and literature in general
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bibliographya list of works cited or otherwise relevant to a subject or other workM,SK,SWGSKH
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Bildungsromana german word referring to a novel structured as a series of events that take place as the hero travels in quest of a goal; The Adventures of Huck FinnW
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blank versepoetry written in iambic pentameter, the primary meter used in ENglish poetry and the works of Shakespeare and MiltonK,SWGSH
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bombastinflated, pretentious language used for trivial subjects
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burlesquea work of literature meant to ridicule a subject; a grotesque imitation
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cacophonygrating, inharmonious soundsS
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caesuraa pause somewhere in the middle of a verse, often (bbut not always) marked by punctuationS
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canonthe works considered most important in a national literature or period; works widely read and studiedSKH
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caricaturea grotesque likeness of striking qualities in person and thingsSK
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carpe diemliterally, "seize the day"; enjoy life while you can, a common theme in literatureWS
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catharsisa cleansing of the spirit brought about by the pity and terror of a dramatic tragedyS
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classica highly regarded work of literature or other art form that has withstood the test of timeM,SK,SWGSK
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classicismderiving from the orderly qualities of ancient Greek and Roman culture; implies formality, objectivity, simplicity, and restraint
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climaxthe high point, or turning point, of a storyM,SK,SWGSH
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coming-of-age storya tale in which a young protagonist experiences an introduction to adulthood; "A&P"-Updike; the character may develop understanding via disillusionment, education, doses of reality or any other experiences that alter his emotional or intellectual maturityH
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conceita witty or ingenious thought; a diverting or highly fanciful idea, often stated in figurative languageMSK
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connotationthe suggested or implied meaning of a word or phraseSK,SWGSKH
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consonancethe repetition of two or more consonant sounds in a group of words or a line of poetrySK,SWGSKH
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coupleta pair of rhyming lines in a poemM,SK,SWGSH
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denotationthe dictionary definition of a wordM,SK,SWGSKH
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denouementthe resolution that occurs at the end of a play or work of fictionM,SK,SGSH
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deus ex machinain literature, the use of an artificial device or gimmick to solve a problem; the protagonist suddenly finds a solution to his dilemas because of divine interventionSSH
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dictionthe choice of words in oral and written discourseSK,SWSKH
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Dionysianas distinguished from Apollonian, the word refers to sensual, pleasure-seeking impulsesS
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dramatic ironya circumstance in which the audience or reader knows more about a situation than a character, ex. Oedipus RexM,SK,SWGSKH
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elegyhGSKH
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ellipsisthree periods (...) indicating the omission of words in thought or quotationSSSK
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elliptical construction
a sentence containing a deliberate omission of words. In the sentence "May was hot and June the same," the verb "was" is omitted from the second clause
WSK
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empathya feeling of association or identification with an object or personSSK
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end-stoppedSS
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enjambmentin poetry, the use of successive lines with no punctuation or pause betwee themM,SSH
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epican extended narrative poem that tells of the adventures and exploits of a larger-than-life hero and is often considered a legendary figureM,SK,SWGSH
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epigrama concise but ingenious, witty, and thoughtful statement; "I can resist everything but temptation."-Oscar WildeWS
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epithetan adjective or phrase that expresses a striking quality of a person or thingSSK
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eponymousa term for the title character of a work of literature; ex. Prince Hamlet, Macbeth
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euphemisma mild or less negative usage for a harsh or blunt termM,SSK
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euphonypleasing, harmonious sounds
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exegesisa detailed analysis or interpretation of a work of literature
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explicationthe interpretation or analysis of a textSK
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exposea piece of writing that reveals weaknesses, faults, frailties, or other shortcomings; ex. The Jungle-Upton SinclairK
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expositionthe background and events that lead to the presentation of the main idea or purpose of a work of literatureM,SK,SGSKH
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extended metaphorM,SK,SGSKH
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fablea short tale often featuring non-human characters whose actions enable the author to make observations about human behaviorK,SGSH
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falling actionthe action in a play or story that occurs after the climax and that leads to the conclusion and often to the resolution of the conflictM,SK,SGSH
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fantasya story containing unreal, imaginary charactersH
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farcea comedy that contains an extravagant and nonsensical disregard of seriousness, although it may have a serious, scornful purpose; The Taming of the ShrewSH
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figurative languagein contrast to literal language, it implies meaning; includes metaphor, simile, and personification, among othersSK,SKH
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first-person narrativea narrative told by a character involved in the storyM,SK,SSKH
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flashbacka return to an earlier time in a story or play in order to clarify present action or circumstancesSK,SSKH
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foota unit of stressed and unstressed syllables used to determine the meter of a poetic lineSSH
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foreshadowingproviding hints of things to come in a story or playSK,SGSKH
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framea structure that provides premise or setting for a narrativeGS
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free versea structure that provides premise or setting for a narrativeK,SWGSH
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genrea term used to describe literary formes, such as novel, play, and essayK,SWGSKH
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Gothic novela novel in which supernatural horrors and an atmosphere of unknown terrors pervades the actionG
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haranguea forceful lecture, sermon, or tirade
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heroic couplettwo rhymed lines written in iambic pentameter and used widely in 18th century verseS
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hubristhe excessive pride that leads tragic heroes to their deathsSK
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humanisma belief that emphasizes faith and optiism in human potential and creativity
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hyperboleoverstatement; gross exaggeration for rhetorical effectK,SWGSKH
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idylla lyric poem or passage that describes a kind of ideal life or place
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imagea word or phrase representing that which cannot be seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or feltK,SWSKH
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indirect quotationa rendering of a quotation in which actual words are not stated but only approximated or paraphrasedK,SSK
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in medias res"in the middle of things" Latin term for a narrative that starts not at the beginning of events, but at some other critical pointGH
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invectivea direct verbal assault; a denunciation
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ironya mode of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is statedMK,SWGSKH
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kenninge device employed in Anglo-Saxon poetry in which the name of a thing is replaced by one of its functions or qualities, as in "the ring-giver" for king and "whale road" for ocean
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lampoona mocking satirical assault on a person or situation
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