ELEMENTS OF LITERATURE IN ENGLISH

1. Litotes:the use of negative statement to present positive opinion. Example= God is not imperfect (God is perfect).

2. Synecdoche:using a part to represent a whole or vice versa. Example= two heads are better than one (two people are better than one)

3. Epigram:a short witty saying. Example= more haste, less speed

4.       Rhetorical Question: question that requires not answer. Example= why am I in this mess?

5.       Climax:systematic arrangement of idea or expression in descending order.


6.       Anti-climax:the opposite of climax

7.       Repetition:occurrence of expression more than once.

8.       Theme:main idea in a literary work

9.       Plot:arrangement of events or actions (either linear or non-linear)

10.   Tone:attitude of the writer towards the work of art


11.   Mood:attitude of the reader towards the work of art

12.   Flashback:relating the past to present occurrence

13.   Dilemma:to be confronted with situation to make choice.

14.   Setting:when and when action or event take place

15.   Didactic:literary work that teaches lesson


16.   Monologue:speech by a single person

17.   Soliloquy:thought expressed aloud

18.   Aside:speech addressed to self or audience

19.   Allusion:partial reference to character, history, mythology or work of art

20.   Satire:work positioned to ridicule some vices


21.   Melodrama:drama with high emotional effect

22.   Mime:actions without words

23.   Fable:short story told to teach moral lesson

24.   Parable:a story involving human being which teaching moral or religious lesson.

25.   Invective:direct abusive, vituperative, denunciatory attack


26.   In Media Res: starting a story at the middle of crucial action

27.   Epidectic Poetry: verse for either praise or blame

28.   Eulogy:praise poem such as ode, encomium, epithalamium, panegyric, etc

29.   Palilogy:repetition

30.   Caricature:ridicule person by distorting or exaggerating the features


31.   Dues ex Machina: hope of recovery out of trouble

32.   Poetaster:a quack poet

33.   Burlesque:work aimed at provoking laughter in other to ridicule

34.   Carpe Diem: motif in poetry which refers to the view that one should enjoy life to the fullest while one is able

35.   Bard:poet in modern usage


36.   Belles-Lettres:genre of literature different from scientific writing

37.   Catharsis: change of emotion resulting from strong feeling of sorrow, fear, pity, or laughter

38.   Travesty:work aim to arouse laughter by imitation of a serious work

39.   Hamartia:tragic flaw

40.   Lampoon:violent and satirical attack against a person or institution


41.   Genre:form of literature

42.   Hubris:pride of tragic hero

43.   Fantasy:creation of unreal world and people that look like real one

44.   Rhetoric:language of a work and its style

45.   Roman a Clef: novel where characters are real people but disguised


46.   Periphrasis:roundabout expression, verbosity, circumlocution

47.   Poetic licence: the right of poets to distort language, history, geography for the sake of art

48.   Pastoral:work of art written to represent life of shepherd or country life

49.   Idyll: short poem that describes an incident or interesting scene or event

50.   Image:picture in the mind


51.   Imagery:painting picture of the mind

52.   Farce:extremely funny comedy with ridiculous action

53.   Parody:imitation of another work of art

54.   Poetic Justice: term used to convey the idea that evil is punished appropriately and good rewarded

55.   Poetic Diction: usage of language


56.   Poesy:the making of a poem

57.   Tirade:a violent speech, long and denunciatory

58.   Picaresque:novel that tells adventure of a wandering rogue or rascal

59.   Causerie:informal essay or article on literary topics

60.   Cento:term used for collection of bits and pieces from various writers


61.   Catalects:literary works which detached from main body of a writer’s work

62.   Prologue:introductory speech at the beginning of work of art

63.   Epilogue:concluding speech at the end of work of art

64.   Epimythium:summary of moral lesson placed at the end of a fable

65.   Promythium:summary of moral lesson placed at the beginning of a fable


66.   Lake Poet: poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey

67.   Local Colour: describing details peculiar to certain region or environment in order to add interest and authenticity to a narrative

68.   Logomachy:a dispute or fight about words

69.   Roman Feuilleton: novel published serially in newspaper or journal

70.   Verisimilitude:story that has resemblance to the truth and therefore has the appearance of being true or real even when it is a fantasy


71.   Triplet (Tercet): three stanza poem

72.   Triads:group of three stanzas

73.   Epithalamion:poem about wedding praise

74.   Harangue:a lengthy and aggressive speech

75.   Ballad:short folk poem about heroic deeds that is lyrical


76.   Trochee:a foot consisting of stressed syllable followed by unstressed

77.   Dactyl:a foot consisting of one stress syllable followed by two unstressed

78.   Anapaest:a foot consisting of two unstressed followed by stressed

79.   Spondee:a foot consisting of two stressed followed by stressed

80.   Saga:a work of art about culturally historical narration of lineage


81.   Limerick:witty five line poem with specific end rhyme

82.   Metanoia:retracting of statement made

83.   Allegory:a work of art that used symbolized events or characters

84.   Chiasmus:the use of parallel statement where one is invasion. Example= the first shall be last and the last first

85.   Canto:division of stanzas into multiple groups


86.   Rhythm:the count of meters

87.   Meter:measure of stressed and unstressed syllable

88.   Enjambment:run-on-line

89.   Polysyndecton:the use of many conjunction amidst a statement

90.   Tmesis:insertion of a word between another word. Example= some maybe thing (maybe inserted in something)


91.   Symbolism:representation of idea. Example= Piano and Drums in Gabriel Okara’s poem (symbolises modern and primitive)

92.   Rhyme:sameness of sound between lines

93.   Rhyme Scheme: the sequences in which rhyme occurs at the end of lines in poem.

94.   Quatrain:four successive lines in poetry.

95.   Refrain:any repeated word, phrase or expression


96.   Subject Matter:the basis of a narration or story. It can also be considered as the background story.

97.   Paradox:an absurd statement which is meaning in deeper sense example= money spent is money saved.

98.   Stage Directions: this is the written instruction of the playwright which guide every act and scene

99.   Character:the instrument of the writer or the creator of any work of art

100.            Characterization:the formation or configuration of character


101.            Onomatopoeia:using sound to signify action. Example= the zooming bus

102.            Metonymy:calling something by its related attribute. Example= I haves read all Shakespeare(instead of saying I have read all books written by William Shakespeare).

103.            Irony:saying one thing and meaning another. Example= The thief barked at the dog

104.            Euphemism:replacing harsh or irritating statement with mild and simple one

105.            Dialogue:exchange of idea between two or more character


106.            Action:the activeness or inactiveness of character in literary work_ mostly drama

107.            Hyperbole:the exaggeration of statement or opinion

108.            Suspense: the state of anxiety or expectation in the reader or audience

109.            Conflict: the bone of contention or the cause of disagreement

110.            Cast: a list of selected participants for performance with specific roles to play


111.            Hypophora: the use of response to a rhetorical question.

112.            Apostrophe: this is a rhetorical call which demands no response

113.            Anaphora: this is use of repeated word or phrase at the beginning of a line. Example= God is able. God is abundantly capable. God is the alpha and omega.

114.            Anagram: the rearrangement of words or phrases to form another word or phrase. Example= bad credit forms debit card

115.            Acrostic:the first letter of line in total spells a word. Example= Cuddly, Acrobatic, Tenacious, Softly purring..


116.            Poetic Drama: this’ a play written in verse form. Example= Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot

117.            Dramatic irony: the reader or audience already knows what one or more characters do not know

118.            Protagonist: also called the hero_ plays the most prominent roles

119.            Antagonist: also called villain_ opposes the protagonist

120.            Anti-hero: very prominent character but lacks the qualities expected of hero


121.            Sarcasm:insincere praise to ridicule someone or something.

122.            Pun (Paranomasia): play on words. Example= the congregation prays while the pastor preys on them.

123.            Peripeteia:the beginning of a character’s downfall

124.            Personification:giving human qualities to inanimate objects. Example= trees groan as they fell

125.            Proscenium Arch: the space between the stage and where the audience sit.


126.            Chorus: this is a group of actors in a drama pronouncing a singular opinion.

127.            Malapropism (Catachresis): the intentional misuse of word for the purpose of creating literary effect.

128.            Deunuement: the point of solution in a drama after so much conflict.

129.            Motivation: the consistent reason for a character’s actions.

130.            Portmanteau Word: the fusion of two meanings into a single word. Example= slithy (meaning lithe and slimy).


131.            Prompter:this is the person who reminds the actors or actresses of their forgotten lines through whisper. Also called the-actor-off-the-stage.

132.            Anachronism: the intentional displacement of time in a literary work.

133.            Anastrophe (hyperbaton): the use of inversion. Example= to thine own self be true

134.            Flies: space over the stage for storing things such as drop curtain, scenery, etc.

135.            Scenery: object for creating fictional setting on a stage.


136.            Wings: the spaces at the edge of stage where preparing performers stay before entering the stage.

137.            Crew: the totality of non acting members who supervise the activities.

138.            Pathetic Fallacy: attributing human feelings to inanimate or animals. Example= the sad trees screamed for freedom.

139.            Transfer Epithet: the use of wrong adjective to qualify something. Example= I rested on my emotional pillow (instead of, I emotionally rested on my pillow) .

140.            Meosis: the use of understatement. Example= Mr. Tunji lives in a matchbox.


141.            Aphorism: a sharp observation which accepted to be true. Example= a penny saved is a penny earned.

142.            Colloquialism: use of informal language such as slang in a work of literature.

143.            Frame Story: a story within a story. It’s a companion to the main story.

144.            Anthropomorphism: the projection of non-human like human. Example= a cat wearing a wristwatch.

145.            Zoomorphism: giving characteristics of animal to human.


146.            Motif: image, idea, sound, word that helps in explaining the theme.

147.            Assonance: the successive use of vowel sounds in a line of close proximity. Example= thou still unravished bride of quietness. (the repetition of “I” sound)

148.            Alliteration: the successive use of consonant sounds in a line of close proximity. Example= the furrow followed free.

149.            Bathos: the unintentional overuse of empathy which becomes ridicule.

150.            Bildungsroman:the novel for growth or information


151.            Parallelism: the presentation of two similar phrase or clause for the purpose of creating balance. Example= my country is in hardship; my countrymen are in poverty.

152.            Antithesis: the presentation of two opposite phrase or clause for the purpose of creating balance. Example= those that I guide, I do not love. Those that I fight I do not hate.

153.            Audition: the stage examination for the purpose of selecting actors for a certain play.

154.            Producer: the person in charge of the financing and organization of drama.

155.            Genre: the division of literature.


156.            Aphorism: a simple saying that is generally accepted truth.

157.            Exposition: introduction of actions that will lead to conflict

158.            Tragic hero: the protagonist in a tragic drama.

159.            Hero: the protagonist in a work of art.

160.            Heroine: the female protagonist in a work of art.


161.            Projection: this is the opposite of flashback.

162.            Metaphor:use of indirect comparison. Example= she is boiling with fury

163.            Simile:use of direct comparison. Example= she is furious like a boiling water

164.            Isocolon: the use of words with similar length. Example= we want, we ask, we get.

165.            Tautology: this is the overuse of words that has just a single meaning. Example= I have a twin brother. (Instead of I have a twin or I’m a twin).


166.            Oxymoron:placing two contrasting words side by side. Example= such sweet sorrow

167.            Juxtaposition: this is the comparison made between two ideas

168.            Mixed Metaphor: this is use of two metaphors that have the same meaning in a line or sentence

169.            Extended Metaphor: this is the use of two metaphors in a line or sentence.

170.            Synaesthesia:displacement of qualities. Example= the odious sun is no more.


171.            Dramatis Personae:the sum total of participants in a drama

172.            Atmosphere:psychological background of a literary work.

173.            Couplet:two successive rhyming lines in poem.

174.            Stanza:group of lines in poem.

175.            Verse:metered stanza

176.            Playwright:writer of drama or play

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