AP English Rhetorical Terms

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definitions & notes
only words

  1. absolute

    complete and without restriction or qualification
  2. abstract

    not representing or imitating external reality
  3. ad hominem

    appealing to personal considerations rather than to reason
  4. adage

    a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact
  5. allegory

    a short moral story
  6. alliteration

    use of the same consonant at the beginning of each word
  7. allusion

    passing reference or indirect mention
  8. analogy

    drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity
  9. anaphora

    repetition of a word or phrase to begin successive clauses
  10. anecdote

    short account of an incident
  11. annotation

    an added comment or instruction
  12. antecedent

    a preceding occurrence or cause or event
    Often used to describe the referent of a pronoun.
  13. antithesis

    the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas for balance
  14. aphorism

    a short pithy instructive saying
  15. apostrophe

    an address to an absent or imaginary person
  16. archetype

    something that serves as a model
  17. asyndeton

    omission of conjunctions where they would normally be used
  18. caricature

    a representation of a person exaggerated for comic effect
  19. chiasmus

    inversion in the second of two parallel phrases
  20. colloquial

    characteristic of informal spoken language or conversation
  21. complex sentence

    a sentence composed of at least one main clause and one subordinate clause
  22. compound sentence

    a sentence composed of at least two coordinate independent clauses
  23. conceit

    an elaborate poetic image comparing very dissimilar things
  24. concrete

    capable of being perceived by the senses
  25. connotation

    an idea that is implied or suggested
  26. deductive reasoning

    reasoning from the general to the particular
  27. denotation

    the most direct or specific meaning of a word or expression
  28. diction

    the manner in which something is expressed in words
  29. didactic

    instructive, especially excessively
  30. ellipsis

    omission or suppression of parts of words or sentences
  31. epigram

    a witty saying
  32. epigraph

    a quotation at the beginning of some piece of writing
  33. euphemism

    an inoffensive expression substituted for an offensive one
  34. exposition

    a systematic interpretation or explanation of a topic
  35. figure of speech

    language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense
  36. foreshadowing

    the act of providing vague advance indications
  37. generalization

    the process of abstracting common properties of instances
  38. genre

    a kind of literary or artistic work
  39. homily

    a sermon on a moral or religious topic
  40. hyperbole

    extravagant exaggeration
  41. idiom

    expression whose meaning cannot be inferred from its words
  42. sensory

    involving or derived from the senses
  43. implication

    a meaning that is not expressly stated but can be inferred
  44. induction

    reasoning from detailed facts to general principles
  45. inference

    drawing a conclusion on the basis of circumstantial evidence
  46. invective

    abusive language used to express blame or censure
  47. inversion

    the reversal of the normal order of words
  48. irony

    incongruity between what might be expected and what occurs
  49. jargon

    technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject
  50. juxtaposition

    the act of positioning close together
  51. litotes

    understatement for rhetorical effect
  52. malapropism

    misuse of a word by confusion with one that sounds similar
  53. maxim

    a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits
  54. metaphor

    a figure of speech that suggests a non-literal similarity
  55. metonymy

    substituting the name of a feature for the name of the thing
  56. motif

    a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work
  57. non sequitur

    a reply that has no relevance to what preceded it
  58. objectivity

    judgment based on observable phenomena
  59. oxymoron

    conjoined contradictory terms
  60. paradox

    a statement that contradicts itself
  61. parallelism

    similarity by virtue of corresponding
  62. paraphrase

    express the same message in different words
  63. parody

    a composition that imitates or misrepresents a style
  64. pedantic

    marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning
  65. point of view

    a mental position from which things are perceived
  66. polysyndeton

    using several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted (as in `he ran and jumped and laughed for joy')
  67. pun

    a humorous play on words
  68. reductio ad absurdum

    (reduction to the absurd) a disproof by showing that the consequences of the proposition are absurd; or a proof of a proposition by showing that its negation leads to a contradiction
  69. resolution

    a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner
  70. rhetoric

    using language effectively to please or persuade
  71. rhetorical device

    a use of language that creates a literary effect
  72. sarcasm

    witty language used to convey insults or scorn
  73. satire

    witty language used to convey insults or scorn
  74. simple sentence

    a sentence having no coordinate clauses or subordinate clauses
  75. style

    how something is done or how it happens
  76. subjectivity

    judgment based on individual impressions and feelings
  77. syntax

    the grammatical arrangement of words in sentences
Created on April 15, 2013