AP LITERARY TERMS
ALLEGORY story or poem in which characters, settings, and events stand for other
people or events or for abstract ideas or qualities.
EXAMPLE: Animal Farm; Dante’s Inferno; Lord of the Flies
ALLITERATION repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in words that are
EXAMPLE: “When the two youths turned with the flag they saw that much of the
regiment had crumbled away, and the dejected remnant was coming slowly
back.” –Stephen Crane (Note how regiment and remnant are being used; the
regiment is gone, a remnant remains…)
ALLUSION reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature,
religion, politics, sports, science, or another branch of culture. An indirect reference to
something (usually from literature, etc.).
AMBIGUITY deliberately suggesting two or more different, and sometimes conflicting,
meanings in a work. An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way-
- this is done on purpose by the author, when it is not done on purpose, it is vagueness,
and detracts from the work.
ANALOGY Comparison made between two things to show how they are alike
ANAPHORA Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more
sentences in a row. This is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer’s
point more coherent.
ANASTROPHE Inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a
sentence. Purpose is rhythm or emphasis or euphony. It is a fancy word for inversion.
ANECDOTE Brief story, told to illustrate a point or serve as an example of something,
often shows character of an individual
ANTAGONIST Opponent who struggles against or blocks the hero, or protagonist, in a
ANTIMETABOLE Repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical
EXAMPLE: Moliere: “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” In poetry, this is called chiasmus.
ANTITHESIS Balancing words, phrases, or...