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Literature Terms Vocabulary Help

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Updated on Sep 8, 2011

Terms Relating to Language and Literature

      anecdote        
      (noun)
      a short account of an interesting or humorous incident
      In order to capture classroom life for the visiting parents at Back to School Night, the teacher shared a number of comical _____(s) about her kindergarten students.
      anthropomorphism        
      (noun)
      attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena
      The Native American legend exhibited elements of _____, as it was a bear who emotionally narrated the tale of loss on the reservation.
      aphorism        
      (noun)
      a brief statement of a truth or opinion; a saying or an adage
      The old _____, "Good things come to those who wait," proved true when after many years, the patient boy got his wish.
      archetype        
      (noun)
      an original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; an ideal example of a type
      Shakespeare's dramas provide a literary _____ that has influenced many subsequent authors who follow the pattern his work provides.
      construe        
      (verb)
      to explain the meaning of; interpret; to analyze the grammatical structure of (a sentence)
      The boy _____(d) his mother's silence as disappointment in his behavior.
      deduce        
      (verb)
      to reach a conclusion by reasoning; to infer from a general principle; to trace the origin of
      Are you able to _____ the meaning of a word once you are given ample context clues?
      epigram        
      (noun)
      a short, witty poem expressing a single thought or observation; a concise, clever, often paradoxical statement or saying
      The novelist began her text with a short _____ on the first page that truly captured the complexity of the story that followed.
      etymology        
      (noun)
      the origin and historical development of a word's forms, meanings, and usages
      Students were asked to trace the _____ of the word, looking in particular for its earliest usage.
      infer        
      (verb)
      to conclude or reason from evidence, premises, or circumstance; to hint or imply
      Given the circumstances, we may _____ that the young mother's motive for putting her baby up for adoption was indeed honorable.
      irony        
      (noun)
      the use of words to express something different from, and often opposite to, their literal meaning; a literary style employing such contrasts for witty effect; incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs
      The _____ of his name, Tiny, became apparent when I saw the seven-foot-tall man for the first time.
      onomatopoeia        
      (noun)
      the formation or use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions to which they refer
      The author of this musical review uses _____ to describe the sounds of the musical instruments at yesterday's concert.
      personification        
      (noun)
      a person or thing typifying a certain quality or idea; an embodiment or exemplification; a figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are endowed with human qualities or are represented as possessing human form
      The puppy was a true _____ of playfulness as he went to fetch the stick every time his owner threw it.
      perspective        
      (noun)
      a mental view or outlook; a point of view; the ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance
      I didn't have a good _____ on Abby's current situation until I learned that she had grown up an only child.
      prose        
      (noun)
      ordinary speech or writing, without metrical structure (as in poetry)
      I prefer to read _____ instead of poetry.
      protagonist        
      (noun)
      the main character in a drama or other literary work
      The _____ of the story, Bridget, is a young woman that many women in their 30s can easily relate to, as she struggles with common issues such as dating, dieting, and work.
      pun        
      (noun)
      play on words
      Mark is always making a _____, or a play on words, to make people laugh.
      rhetoric        
      (noun)
      the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively
      Because he is such a good speaker, his _____ is very convincing, even if what he says doesn't make a lot of sense.
      satire        
      (noun)
      a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony or wit
      I love late-night television talk shows because the hosts always make a _____ of current politics.
      soliloquy        
      (noun)
      a dramatic or literary form of discourse in which a character talks to himself or herself or reveals his or her thoughts without addressing a listener
      As I get older, I find that I talk out loud to myself, just like a character in a drama who performs a.
      trite        
      (adj.)
      lacking power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition; hackneyed
      Because he kept repeating the same joke over and over again, it became _____.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:Literature Terms Vocabulary Practice

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