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Literary Terms and Definitions: A

This page is under perpetual construction! It was last updated 14 March, 2014.


This list is meant to assist, not intimidate. Use it as a touchstone for important concepts and vocabulary that we will cover during the term. Vocabulary terms are listed alphabetically.

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M]

[N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]

A POSTERIORI: In rhetoric, logic, and philosophy, a belief or proposition is said to be a posteriori if it can only be determined through observation (Palmer 381). In general, these are inductive arguments in which the thinker puts forth a belief or proposition as a universal rule she or he puts forth in response to an example seen in nature--the specific observed example comes first, and the logical argument follows on a universal level later.

A PRIORI: In rhetoric, logic, and philosophy, an argument is said to be a priori if its truth can be known or inferred independently of any direct perception. Logic, geometry, and mathematics are usually held as such (Palmer 381). In general, these a priori arguments rely upon deductive reasoning--fashioning a general statement that should (in terms of logic) be true, and then applying the argument to a specific instance--i.e., the universal statement comes first, and then specific applications in the real world are expected to match it.

ABBEY THEATRE: The center of the Irish Dramatic movment founded in 1899 by W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, built with the express purpose of presenting Irish plays performed by Irish actors. It opened in 1904 and began showing plays by almost every Irish playwright of renown.

AB OVO (Latin, "from the egg"): This phrase refers to a narrative that starts at the beginning of the plot, and then moves chronologically through a sequence of events to the tale's conclusion. This pattern is the opposite of a tale that begins in medias res, one in which the narrative starts "in the middle of things," well into the middle of the plot, and then proceeds to explain earlier events through the characters' dialogue, memories, or flashbacks. Horace coins the phrase in his treatise, Ars Poeticae, a treatise not to be confused with the Poetics of Aristotle. Contrast with in medias res.

ABECEDARIAN: See discussion under acrostic, below.

ABECEDARIUS: See discussion under acrostic, below.

ABLATIVE CASE: Click here for expanded discussion.

ABLAUT: Jacob Grimm's term for the way in which Old English strong verbs formed their preterites by a vowel change. This is also called gradation. An example would be the principal parts of Old English strong verbs such as I sing, I sang, and I sung.

ABOLITIONIST LITERATURE: Literature, poetry, pamphlets, or propaganda written in the nineteenth century for the express purpose of condemning slaveholders, encouraging the release and emancipation of slaves, or abolishing slavery altogether. This literature might take the form of autobiographical writings (in the case of many slave narratives) or fictional accounts such as Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Such writings rely heavily on pathos for rhetorical technique.

ABOVE, THE: Also called "the aloft" and sometimes used interchangeably with "the Heavens," this term refers to the gallery on the upper level of the frons scenae. In Shakespeare's Globe Theater, this area contained the lords' rooms, but the center of this location was also used by the actors for short scenes. On the other hand, in most indoor theaters like the Blackfriars Theater, musicians above the stage would perform in a curtained alcove here.

ABSTRACT DICTION / ABSTRACT IMAGERY: Language that describes qualities that cannot be perceived with the five senses. For instance, calling something pleasant or pleasing is abstract, while calling something yellow or sour is concrete. The word domesticity is abstract, but the word sweat is concrete. The preference for abstract or concrete imagery varies from century to century. Philip Sidney praised concrete imagery in poetry in his 1595 treatise, Apologie for Poetrie. A century later, Neoclassical thought tended to value the generality of abstract thought. In the early 1800s, the Romantic poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley once again preferred concreteness. In the 20th century, the distinction between concrete and abstract has been a subject of some debate. Ezra Pound and T. E. Hulme attempted to create a theory of concrete poetry. T. S. Eliot added to this school of thought with his theory of the "objective correlative." Contrast with concrete diction / concrete imagery.

ABSTRACT POEM: Verse that makes little sense grammatically or syntactically but which relies on auditory patterns to create its meaning or poetic effects; Dame Edith Sitwell popularized the term, considering this verse form the equivalent of abstract painting (Deutsche 7). Sitwell's poems from her collection Façade are samples of this genre, including her poem "Hornpipe." A sample from this poem appears below:

Sky rhinoceros-glum
Watched the courses of the breakers' rocking-horses and with Glaucis
Lady Venus on the settee of the horsehair sea!
(qtd. in Deutsche 7)

ABUSIO: A type of catachresis known as the "mixed metaphor." The term is often used in a derogatory manner. See discussion and examples under catachresis.

ACATALECTIC: A "normal" line of poetry with the expected number of syllables in each line, as opposed to a catalectic line (which is missing an expected syllable) or a hypercatalectic line (which has one or more extra syllables than would normally be expected, perhaps due to anacrusis). See discussion under catalectic.

ACATALEXIS: The use of acatalectic lines in poetry--see discussion under catalectic.

ACCENT: (1) A recognizable manner of pronouncing words--often associated with a class, caste, ethnic group, or geographic region. Thus, Americans might be able to discern a Boston accent or a Texas accent by sound alone, or they might place a foreign speaker's origin by noting a French or Russian accent. (2) The degree of stress given to a syllable--an important component of meter. (3) Any diacritical mark. Click here to view diacritical marks.

ACCENTUAL RHYTHM: See discussion under sprung rhythm.

ACEPHALOUS: From Greek "headless," acephalous lines are lines in normal iambic pentameter that contain only nine syllables rather than the expected ten. The first syllable, which is stressed, "counts" as a full metric foot by itself. All acephalous lines by definition are catalectic. See foot and meter.

ACMEISM: A 1912 Russian poetry movement reacting against the Symbolist movement (Harkins 1). Acmeists protested against the mystical tendencies of the Symbolists; they opposed ambiguity in poetry, calling for a return to precise, concrete imagery. Prominent members of the movement include Nikolay Gumilyov and Sergey Gorodetski.

ACRONYM (From Greek acron + onyma; "tip or end of a name"): A word formed from the initial letters in a phrase. For instance, many caucasians in America are called WASPs. In this acronym, the letters W. A. S. P. stand for the first letters in the descriptive phrase, "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant." Acronyms are quite common in governmental bureaucracies, in businesses, in political jargon, and in high-tech products. Other examples include AIDS ("Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome"), NIMBY, ("Not In My Back Yard), and OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). In the realm of technology, we find that radar comes from R.A.D.A.R. (RAdio Detection And Ranging), and laser from L.A.S.E.R. (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). In general, acronyms first appear with periods to indicate the abbreviations, (e. g. L. A. S. E. R). As the term becomes more widespread, the periods vanish (e.g. LASER), and eventually the capitalization falls away as the word enters common usage (e.g. laser).

Note that acronyms contrast with alphabetisms, in which the word is pronounced aloud by using the names of the actual letters--such as the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), which is pronounced as three-syllables. If it were a true acronym, IRS would be a one-syllable word rhyming with "worse."

Acronyms and alphabetisms are most useful when they allow a speaker to create a new, short, efficient term for a long unwieldy phrase. They are least useful when they obscure the truth, when they enable technobabble and unnecessary jargon. Even English historical scholarship has fallen into the habit, commonly referring to the historical Great Vowel Shift as the GVS, and the Oxford English Dictionary as the OED, to give two examples. Contrast with anagram.

ACRONYMY: The act of using or creating acronyms. (See above.)

ACROSTIC: A poem in which the first or last letters of each line vertically form a word, phrase, or sentence. Apart from puzzles in newspapers and magazines, the most common modern versions involve the first letters of each line forming a single word when read downwards. An acrostic that involves the sequential letters of the alphabet is said to be an abecedarius or an abecedarian poem.

Acrostics may have first been used as a mnemonic device to aid with oral transmission. In the Old Testament, some of the Hebrew Psalms include acrostic devices. Chaucer also wrote acrostics such as his "ABC" (Prior a nostre dame) in his younger days. Acrostics are also common in Kabbalistic charms and word squares, including the Cirencester word square of Roman origin:

ROTAS
OPERA
TENET
AREPO
SATOR

Abecedarian acrostics were also a common genre in classical Hebrew poetry. For instance, Psalm 118 in the Douay-Rheims numbering of the Bible (or number 119 in the King James numbering of the Bible) is an abecedarian acrostic, with each stanza headed by one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, such as Aleph, Beth, Gimel, and so on. Similar acrostics appear in Lamentations 3. Renaissance examples of acrostic poetry include the preface to Ben Jonson's "The Alchemist."

If a poem is built so that the last letters in each line form a word, rather than the first, the poem is called a telestich.

ACT: A major division in a play. Often, individual acts are divided into smaller units ("scenes") that all take place in a specific location. Originally, Greek plays were not divided into acts. They took place as a single whole interrupted occasionally by the chorus's singing. In Roman times, a five-act structure first appeared based upon Horace's recommendations. This five-act structure became a convention of drama (and especially tragedy) during the Renaissance. (Shakespeare's plays have natural divisions that can be taken as the breaks between acts as well; later editors inserted clear "act" and "scene" markings in these locations.) From about 1650 CE onward, most plays followed the five-act model. In the 1800s, Ibsen and Chekhov favored a four-act play, and in the 1900s, most playwrights preferred a three-act model, though two-act plays are not uncommon.

ACTION: A real or fictional event or series of such events comprising the subject of a novel, story, narrative poem, or a play, especially in the sense of what the characters do in such a narrative. Action, along with dialogue and the characters' thoughts, form the skeleton of a narrative's plot.

ACUTE ACCENT: A diacritical mark indicating primary stress.

ACYROLOGIA: Also called acyrology, see discussion under periphrasis.

ACYRON: The improper or odd application of a word, such as speaking of "streams of graces" (Shipley 5). When the result is humorous or deliberately absurd, the acyron becomes a malapropism.

ADAGE: A proverb or wise saying.

ADAGY: The act of speaking or writing in adages.

ADAPTATION: Taking material from an older source and altering it or updating it in a new genre. For instance, John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi is a play adapted from an older Italian novella. Maybe of Shakespeare's history plays are adaptations of Holinshed's chronicles, etc. For modern artists, if the adaptation's source is unacknowledged, the adaptation may constitute plagiarism under modern conventions. Contrast with ecphrasis.

ADDITIVE MONSTER: In contrast with the composite monster, mythologists and folklorists use the label additive monster to describe a creature from mythology or legend that has an altered number of body parts rather than body parts from multiple animals added together. For instance, the Scandinavian Ettin, a troll or giant with two heads, is an additive monster. Sleipnir, the magical horse in Norse mythology, is a regular horse, except it has eight legs. Deities and demons in the Hindu pantheon often have multiple arms or eyes. The term has also been loosely applied to fantastic creatures that have modified limbs as well. For instance, the gyascutis is a fantastic medieval beast that resembles a sheep, except its limbs vary in length. Its front legs are drastically shortened, and its hind legs are drastically lengthened, which allows it to remain level as it grazes on the incline of steep hills.

ADVANCED PRONUNCIATION: In linguistics, John Algeo defines this as an early instance of a historical sound change in progress (311). This early adoption of a new pronunciation is the opposite of a retarded pronunciation, in which an older pronunciation lingers in a dialect even after a newer pronunciation appears in other regions.

ADVENTURE NOVEL: Any novel in which exciting events and fast paced actions are more important than character development, theme, or symbolism. Examples include Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, or Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan of the Apes.

AESC (also spelled ash in Anglo-Saxon): A letter in the Old Norse runic alphabet indicating the sound /æ/ as in the word <at>. Aesc lends its name to the letter ash commonly used in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Click here for more information.

AESOPIC LANGUAGE: In Russian criticism, the name for oppositional political writing hidden in circumlocution, fables, and vague references so that it can bypass official censorship (Harkins 1). The term refers to Aesop's Fabula, a collection of beast fables in which simple stories about animals contained morals or messages "between the lines," so to speak. The coinage of the term comes from Saltykov, who is both the first to use the term in this sense and the one whom many modern Russian critics consider the best example of such writings (Harkins 1).

AESTHETIC DISTANCE: An effect of tone, diction, and presentation in poetry creating a sense of an experience removed from irrelevant or accidental events. This sense of intentional focus seems intentionally organized or framed by events in the poem so that it can be more fully understood by quiet contemplation. Typically, the reader is less emotionally involved or impassioned--reacting to the material in a calmer manner.

AESTHETICISM: (1) In general, any literary movement that encourages critical or artistic focus on the experience of beauty rather than focuses on didactic messages or seeking truth. (2) More specifically, a Victorian literary movement in the 19th Century spearheaded by Walter Pater. Pater believed the goal of art was to make those experiencing it live their lives more intensely and encourage the pursuit of beauty.

AFFIX: James Algeo defines an affix as "a morpheme added to a base or stem to modify its meaning" (311). If an affix attaches to the beginning of a stem (or base word), the affix is called a prefix. If an affix is attached to the end of a stem, the affix is called a suffix. From Old English, Modern English speakers gain prefixes like un- (unlike, undo, unafraid). From Latin, we gain prefixes like re- (redo, replay, reactivate). From Old English, we gain suffixes such as -dom (kingdom, freedom). From Latin, we gain suffixes such as -ician (beautician, mortician) and -orium (pastorium, i.e., a Baptist parsonage). From Greek -izein, we gain the popular verb ending -ize (criticize, harmonize, pasteurize, even neologisms like finalize).

AFFIXATION: Making words by adding an affix to a previously existing base word or stem. For instance, the affix -ly can be added to the base word (or stem) quick to create the word quickly. This process is affixation. See also affix. Contrast with declension.

AFFRICATIVE: A sound stop with a fricative release. Affricatives involve a stop plus a movment through a fricative position (i.e., the blade of the tongue initially moves up in the position of a stop, but then move through a fricative or spirant position rather than remaining in the "stop" position).The affricatives include two different sounds. The first sound is found in judge, gem, soldier, and spinach. The second affricative sound is that sound found in church, butcher, itch, niche, and cello.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN ENGLISH: See Black Vernacular.

AFRO-ASIATIC: A family of languages separate from Indo-European languages. The two main branches of Afro-Asiatic are Hamitic and Semitic. Other examples of non-Indo-European languages can be found elsewhere on this website.

AGGLUTINATIVE (from Latin, "glued to"): In a now outdated linguistic classification, an agglutinative language was any language with complicated but (for the most part) regular derivational forms (Algeo 311)--especially those based on single-syllable morphemes. This term or classifaction first appeared in 1836 in the linguistic theories of Wilhelm von Humboldt. Agglutinative languages were thought to include Turkish, Basque, Hungarian, and many Tibeto-Burman languages. These were were originally thought to be more "advanced" or "developed" than isolating languages like Chinese in which every word was formed by distinct monosyllables. On the other hand, agglutatinative languages were thought to be more primitive than incorporative or inflective languages such as Eskimo and Latin, respectively. Modern historical, linguistic, and anthropological findings have largely demolished the earlier arguments. The primary problem is that this classification depends upon the assumption that primitive languages tend to be formed from monosyllables, and advanced languages were thought to become gradually polysyllabic. However, many language like Chinese may have grown more monosyllabic over a process of thousands of years, for instance, disproving this idea. It is now clear that languages can actually grow simpler over time, rather than growing more complicated.

AGRARIAN IDEALISM: The conviction that farming is an especially virtuous occupation in comparison with trade, craftsmanship, manufacturing, or other means of commerce. Romans like Hesiod and Virgil, for instance, praised the simple, hard-working ethics of the Roman farmer. (See the Eclogues for an example.) Jefferson dreamed of a future America composed primarily of gentlemen-farmers who lived off the fruits of their plantations without the need for outside trade in his Queries. The agrarian ideal manifested equally strong in Romantic writings as one form of the American Dream motif.

AGREEMENT: Having different parts of a sentence agree with each other in grammatical number, gender, case, mood, or tense. In British grammar books, agreement is also called concord.

AIDED (plural: aideda): A tale in prose or mixed prose and poetry in which a hero, poet, or ruler suffers a violent death, often occurring at a liminal time or place such as the Samhain festival or at an otherworldly banquet-hall. Frequently the ending follows the motif of the threefold death. According to Dan Wiley's article in Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia, some thirty-five such tales explicitly labeled aideda survive from Old or Middle Irish between 650-1250 C.E. (see Duffy 10-11).

AIDOS: The Greek term for the great shame felt by a hero after failure.

AISLING (Irish Gaelic: "dream, vision," pronounced "ash-ling"): a genre of Irish political poetry popular in the 1600s and 1700s in which a Spéirbhean appears who mourns the recent down-fallen status of Ireland and predicts a coming return to fortune, often linked with the return of a Stuart ruler to the throne of Britain. In later centuries, the form often became used satirically or jokingly. The most famous example of aisling poetry is Róisín Dubh, and the earliest major aisling poet was Aodhagán Ó Rathaille, often called the father of the aisling. Cf. visio.

AKEDAH: The akedah is a section of Genesis including Genesis 22:1-19, of foundational importance in the three Abrahamic traditions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

AJUST: See discussion under humors.

ALAZON: A stock character in Greek drama, the alazon is a stupid braggart who is easily tricked by the clever eiron who tells the alazon what he wants to hear.

ALBA (Provençal "dawn"): A medieval lyric or morning serenade about the coming of dawn. The alba's refrain typically ends with the word "dawn." The theme can be religious, but more frequently the theme focuses on two lovers parting with the coming of day. Cf. the more common term used in English, the closely related aubade.

ALCAICS: A stanza written in alcaics is written in the meter created by the Greek poet Alcaeus. This stanza-form was later used with slight changes by the poet Horace. An example in English appears in Tennyson's imitation, as appears below:

O mighty-mouthed inventor of harmonies,
O skill'd to sing of Time or eternity,
God-gifted organ-voice of England,
Milton, a name to resound for ages.

ALCHEMY: The medieval and Renaissance precursor to modern chemistry, characterized by mystical philosophy and attempts to turn "base" metals such as lead and tin into "noble" metals such as gold and silver. The tenets of alchemy were based on the theory of the four elements (see elements, the four), in which all matter was composed of varying proportions of four substances--air, earth, water, and fire. Each element had a corresponding type of spirit associated with it--sylphs, gnomes, undines, and salamanders. While alchemical beliefs were taken seriously as a matter of pseudo-scientifical inquiry in early centuries, by the end of the medieval period, the practice was often synonymous with chicanery and con-artistry. Chaucer's "Canon Yeoman's Tale" focuses on the deceptions of false alchemical practitioners, and Shakespeare's The Tempest borrows heavily from alchemical lore in its depiction of the island's magical spirits. In later, more enlightened times, alchemical beliefs became a subject of mockery. Alexander Pope's mock epic, The Rape of the Lock, employs the traditional alchemical spirits, but alters their purpose so that their primary duties involve protecting young girls' virginity from the advances of handsome rakes, for instance. Click here for a downloadable PDF chart of the elements.

alchemy chart

ALEXANDRINE: A twelve-syllable line written in iambic hexameter. Alexandrines were especially popular in French poetry for drama between 1500-1800 CE, but their invention dates back to the late 1100s. The earliest medieval examples include Le Pèlerinage de Charlemagne à Jérusalem and Roman d'Alexandre (from which the name alexandrine comes). Racine in particular makes good use of it in Andromaque. Classical French Alexandrines are a bit different from modern English ones in that a strong stress falls on the on the sixth and last syllables with a "wandering" unstressed syllable that can appear in-between the strong stresses on each side of the caesura. An example of an English Alexandrine appears in the second line of Alexander Pope's couplet:

A needless Alexandrine ends the song
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.

The form has been less popular in English, and Pope actually mocks it in his Essay on Criticism. However, Spenser uses an Alexandrine to good effect as part of his spenserian stanza. Robert Bridges speaks of his "loose Alexandrines" in The Testament of Beauty, which consists of unrhymed, metrically irregular twelve-syllable lines (though in many cases, the twelve-syllables are the result of elision).

ALLEGORESIS: the act of reading a story as an allegory.

ALLEGORY: The word derives from the Greek allegoria ("speaking otherwise"). The term loosely describes any writing in verse or prose that has a double meaning. This narrative acts as an extended metaphor in which persons, abstract ideas, or events represent not only themselves on the literal level, but they also stand for something else on the symbolic level. An allegorical reading usually involves moral or spiritual concepts that may be more significant than the actual, literal events described in a narrative. Typically, an allegory involves the interaction of multiple symbols, which together create a moral, spiritual, or even political meaning. The act of interpreting a story as if each object in it had an allegorical meaning is called allegoresis.

If we wish to be more exact, an allegory is an act of interpretation, a way of understanding, rather than a genre in and of itself. Poems, novels, or plays can all be allegorical, in whole or in part. These allegories can be as short as a single sentence or as long as a ten volume book. The label "allegory" comes from an interaction between symbols that creates a coherent meaning beyond that of the literal level of interpretation. Probably the most famous allegory in English literature is John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1678), in which the hero named Christian flees the City of Destruction and travels through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, and finally arrives at the Celestial City. The entire narrative is a representation of the human soul's pilgrimage through temptation and doubt to reach salvation in heaven. Medieval works were frequently allegorical, such as the plays Mankind and Everyman. Other important allegorical works include mythological allegories like Apuleius' tale of Cupid and Psyche in The Golden Ass and Prudentius' Psychomachiae. More recent non-mythological allegories include Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Butler's Erewhon, and George Orwell's Animal Farm.

The following illustrative passage comes from J. A. Cuddon's Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 3rd edition (Penguin Books, 1991). I have Americanized the British spelling and punctuation:

To distinguish more clearly we can take the old Arab fable of the frog and the scorpion, who met one day on the bank of the River Nile, which they both wanted to cross. The frog offered to ferry the scorpion over on his back provided the scorpion promised not to sting him. The scorpion agreed so long as the frog would promise not to drown him. The mutual promises exchanged, they crossed the river. On the far bank the scorpion stung the frog mortally.

"Why did you do that?" croaked the frog, as it lay dying.

"Why?" replied the scorpion, "We're both Arabs, aren't we?"

If we substitute for a frog a "Mr. Goodwill" or a "Mr. Prudence," and for the scorpion "Mr. Treachery" or "Mr. Two-Face," and make the river any river and substitute for "We're both Arabs . . ." "We're both men . . ." we turn the fable [which illustrates human tendencies by using animals as illustrative examples] into an allegory [a narrative in which each character and action has symbolic meaning]. On the other hand, if we turn the frog into a father and the scorpion into a son (boatman and passenger) and we have the son say "We're both sons of God, aren't we?", then we have a parable (if a rather cynical one) about the wickedness of human nature and the sin of parricide. (22)

Contrast allegory with fable, parable, and symbolism, below, or click here to download a PDF handout contrasting these terms. Cf. charactonym.

ALLIOSIS: While presenting a reader with only two alternatives may result in the logical fallacy known as false dichotomy or either/or fallacy, creating a parallel sentence using two alternatives in parallel structure can be an effective device rhetorically and artistically. Alliosis is the rhetorical use of any isocolon parallel sentence that presents two choices to the reader, e.g., "You can eat well, or you can sleep well." For more information, see schemes.

ALLITERATION: Repeating a consonant sound in close proximity to others, or beginning several words with the same vowel sound. For instance, the phrase "buckets of big blue berries" alliterates with the consonant b. Coleridge describes the sacred river Alph in Kubla Khan as "Five miles meandering with a mazy motion," which alliterates with the consonant m. The line "apt alliteration's artful aid" alliterates with the vowel sound a. One of Dryden's couplets in Absalom and Achitophel reads, "In pious times, ere priestcraft did begin, / Before polygamy was made a sin." It alliterates with the letter p. Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" employs the technique: "I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass." Most frequently, the alliteration involves the sounds at the beginning of words in close proximity to each other. Alliteration is an example of a rhetorical scheme. Alliteration in which the first letters of words are the same (as opposed to consonants alliterating in the middles or ends of words) is more specifically called head rhyme, which is a bit of a misnomer since it doesn't actually involve rhyme in a technical sense. If alliteration also involves changes in the intervening vowels between repeated consonants, the technique is called consonance. See alliterative verse, alliterative prose, assonance, and consonance. See also alliterative revival and sound symbolism.

ALLITERATIVE PROSE: Many texts of Old English and Middle English prose use the same techniques as alliterative verse. Aelfric (c. 955-1010 CE) and Wulfstan (d. 1023) wrote many treatises using skillful alliteration. The Herefordshire texts known collectively as the "The Katherine Group" (Hali Meiohad, Sawles Warde, Seinte Katerine, Seinte Marherete, Seinte Iuliene) are some examples in Middle English.

ALLITERATIVE REVIVAL: The general increase or surge in alliterative poetry composed in the second half of the 14th century in England. Alliteration had been the formalistic focus in Old English poetry, but after 1066 it began to be replaced by the new convention of rhyme, which southern courtly poets were using due to the influence of continental traditions in the Romance languages like Latin and French. Between 1066 and 1300, hardly any poetic manuscripts using the alliterative form survive. There are two theories to explain this absence. Theory number one argues this absence is a quirk of textual history, and that individuals were still writing alliterative verse, but by coincidence none of the manuscripts survive to the modern period, or that the tradition survived in oral form only and was never written down. The second theory suggests that, after alliterative verse had been mostly abandoned, a surge of regionalism or nationalism encouraged northern poets to return to it during the mid- and late-1300s. In either case, during this time, Piers Plowman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and other important medieval poems were written using alliterative techniques. See alliteration, above, and alliterative verse, below.

ALLITERATIVE VERSE: A traditional form of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse poetry in which each line has at least four stressed syllables, and those stresses fall on syllables in which three or four words alliterate (repeat the same consonant sound). Alliterative verse largely died out in English within a few centuries of the Norman Conquest. The Normans introduced continental conventions of poetry, including rhyme and octosyllabic couplets. The last surge of alliterative poetry in the native English tradition is known as the alliterative revival during the Middle English period. See alliteration, above.

ALLOMORPH: A different pronunciation of a morpheme. For instance, consider the -s plural morpheme. The standard /s/ sound (as in <elks>) becomes a /z/ sound in some allomorphs (such as <boxes>.) However, the same grapheme <s> is used to represent each sound.

ALLOPHONE: A predictable change in the articulation of a phoneme. For example, the letter t in the word top is aspirated, but the letter t in stop is unaspirated.

ALLUSION: A casual reference in literature to a person, place, event, or another passage of literature, often without explicit identification. Allusions can originate in mythology, biblical references, historical events, legends, geography, or earlier literary works. Authors often use allusion to establish a tone, create an implied association, contrast two objects or people, make an unusual juxtaposition of references, or bring the reader into a world of experience outside the limitations of the story itself. Authors assume that the readers will recognize the original sources and relate their meaning to the new context. For instance, if a teacher were to refer to his class as a horde of Mongols, the students will have no idea if they are being praised or vilified unless they know what the Mongol horde was and what activities it participated in historically. This historical allusion assumes a certain level of education or awareness in the audience, so it should normally be taken as a compliment rather than an insult or an attempt at obscurity.

ALOFT, THE: Also called "the above" and sometimes used interchangeably with "the Heavens," this term refers to the gallery on the upper level of the frons scenae. In Shakespeare's Globe theater, this area contained the lords' rooms, but the center of this location was also used by the actors for short scenes. On the other hand, in most indoor theaters like the Blackfriars Theater, musicians above the stage would perform in a curtained alcove here.

ALPHABET POEM: An acrostic poem of thirteen lines in which each line consists of two words, each word beginning with sequential letters in the alphabetic pattern ABCDEF, etc. Deutsche noteas that many poets like Paul West take liberties such as using Greek or Russian letters and introducing -ex compounds. Here is an example from West:

Artichokes, Bubbly,
Caviar, Dishes
Epicures Favor,
Gourmets Hail;
Ices, Juicy
Kickshaws, Luxurious
Mousses, Nibblesome
Octopus, Pheasant,
Quiches, Sweets,
Treats Utterly
Vanquish Weightwatchers:
Xenodochy's
Yum-yum!
(West, qtd. in Deutsche 11)

ALPHABETIC: The adjective alphabetic refers to any writing system in which each unit or letter represents a single sound in theory. English writing is theoretically alphabetic--but in actual point of fact is so riddled with exceptions and oddities that it hardly counts--as discussed here.

ALPHABETISM: A word formed from the initial letters of other words (or syllables) pronounced with the letters of the alphabet--such as the IRS, CIA, the VP, or VIP. See further discussion under acronym.

ALTAIC (from the Altai mountains): A non-Indo-European language family including Turkish, Tungusic, and Mongolian.

ALTER EGO: A literary character or narrator who is a thinly disguised representation of the author, poet, or playwright creating a work. Some scholars suggest that J. Alfred Prufrock is an alter ego for T. S. Eliot in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," or that the wizard Prospero giving up his magic in The Tempest is an alter ego of Shakespeare saying farewell to the magic of the stage. Contrast with persona.

ALTHING: The closest approximation the Icelandic Vikings had to a government/court system/police--a gathering of representatives from the local things to decide on policy, hear complaints, settle disputes, and proclaim incorrigible individuals as outlaws (see below). The thing was a gathering for each local community in Iceland, but the althing was a gathering for the entire island's male population.

ALVEOLAR: This adjective refers to any sound made by the tongue's approaching the gum ridge. Examples include the sounds /n/, /l/, /z/ and /s/.

ALVEOPALATAL: This adjective refers to any sound made by the tongue's approaching the gum ridge and the hard palate. Examples include the consonant sounds found in the beginning of the words Jill, Chill, and shall and the beginning and ending sounds of the word rouge.

AMALGAMATED COMPOUND: A word originally formed from a compound, but whose form is no longer clearly connected to its origin, such as the word not--originally compounded from Anglo-Saxon na-wiht ("no whit").

AMANUENSIS (from Latin, ab manus, "by hand", plural amanuenses): A servant, slave, secretary, or scribe who takes dictation for an author who speaks aloud. Many works of literature--especially from Roman and medieval times--result from the labor of such a scribe. For instance, the illiterate Margery Kempe had two friars who served as amanuenses to write down her Book of Margery Kempe. Many Roman poets kept slaves who worked as their personal amanuenses, such as Cicero's slave Tyro, and so on.

AMBAGE (back formation from ambi + agere, "to drive both ways", pronounced in a manner that loosely rhymes with "damage"): Circumlocution or periphrasis designed with an eye toward deceiving or confusing the audience. In the plural, several such instances are ambages. See discussion under periphrasis.

AMBIANCE: Loosely the term is equivalent to atmosphere or mood, but more specifically, ambiance is the atmosphere or mood of a particular setting or location. Ambiance is particularly vital to gothic literature and to the horror story, and to many young college students' dates. See atmosphere, mood and setting.

AMBIGUITY: In common conversation, ambiguity is a negative term applied to a vague or equivocal expression when precision would be more useful. Sometimes, however, intentional ambiguity in literature can be a powerful device, leaving something undetermined in order to open up multiple possible meanings. When we refer to literary ambiguity, we refer to any wording, action, or symbol that can be read in divergent ways. As William Empson put it, ambiguity is "any verbal nuance, however slight, which gives room for alternative reactions to the same piece of language" (qtd. in Deutsch 11).

AMELIORATION (from Latin, melior, "better"): A semantic change in which a word gains increasingly favorable connotation. For instance, the Middle English word knight used to mean "servant" (as German Knecht still does). The word grew through amelioration to mean "a servant of the king" and later "a minor nobleman." Similar amelioration affected the Anglo-Saxon word eorl, which becomes Modern English earl. The opposite term, pejoration, is a semantic change in which a word gains increasingly negative connotations.

AMERICAN DREAM: A theme in American literature, film, and art that expresses optimistic desires for self-improvement, freedom, and self-sufficiency. Harry Shaw notes that the term can have no clear and fixed expression because "it means whatever its user has in mind a particular time" (12). In general, it connotes "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in Thomas Jefferson's phrasing. One expression of this is the materialistic "rags-to-riches" motif of many nineteenth-century novels. Here, through hard work, cleverness, and honesty, a young pauper rises in socio-economic status until he is a powerful and successful man. An example here would be the stories by Horatio Alger. Other expressions of this theme focus on more abstract qualities like freedom or self-determination. Many critics have argued that this dream is in many ways a myth in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, given America's frequent discriminatory treatment of immigrants and its continuing economic trends in which an ever smaller number of wealthy people accrue an ever larger percentage of material wealth with each generation, i.e., "the rich get richer and the poor get babies." Other events, such as the loss of the American frontier, segregation and exclusion of minorities, McCarthyism in the 1950s, unpopular wars in Vietnam in the 1960s, and gradual ecological devastation over the last hundred years, together have inspired literary works that criticize or question the American Dream--often seeing it as ultimately selfish or destructive on one or more levels. Examples of these writing would be Miller's Death of A Salesman, Ellison's Invisible Man, and Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

AMERICAN ENGLISH: The English language as it developed in North America, especially in terms of its diction and the spelling and grammatical differences that distinguish it from British English.

AMERICANISM: An expression that is characteristic of the U.S.A. or one which first developed in America.

AMESLAN: American Sign Language--a language composed of hand-signs for the deaf.

AMPHIBRACH: In classical poetry, a three-syllable poetic foot consisting of a light stress, heavy stress, and a light stress--short on both ends. Amphibrachs are quite rare in English, but they can be found in special circumstances, especially when the poet manipulates the caesura to create an unusual effect. See caesura. An example of an English word forming an amphibrach is crustacean. An amphibrach is the reverse-form of an amphimacer.

AMPHIMACER: A three-syllable foot consisting of a heavy, light, and heavy stress. Poetry written in amphimacers is called cretic meter. Amphimacer is rarely used in English poetry, but it is quite common in Greek. An example of an English phrase forming an amphimacer is deaf-and-dumb. An amphimacer is the reverse-form of an amphibrach.

AMPHISBAENIC RHYME: A poetic structure invented by Edmund Wilson in which final words in strategic lines do not rhyme in the traditional sense, but rather reverse their order of consonants and vowels to appear backwards. For example, Wilson writes:

But tonight I come lone and belated--
Foreseeing in every detail,
And resolved for a day to sidestep
My friends and their guests and their pets.

The colored sections above have the amphisbaenic features.

AMPHITHEATER: An open-air theater, especially the unroofed public playhouses in the suburbs of London. Shakespeare's Globe and the Rose are two examples.

ANACHRONISM: Placing an event, person, item, or verbal expression in the wrong historical period. In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Shakespeare writes the following lines:

Brutus: Peace! Count the clock.
Cassius: The clock has stricken three (Act II, scene i, lines 193-94).

Of course, there were no household clocks during Roman times, no more than there were Blu-Ray disk players! The reference is an anachronism, either accidental or intentional. Elizabethan theater often intentionally used anachronism in its costuming, a tradition that survives today when Shakespeare's plays are performed in biker garb or in Victorian frippery. Indeed, from surviving illustrations, the acting companies in Elizabethan England appeared to deliberately create anachronisms in their costumes. Some actors would dress in current Elizabethan garb, others in garb that was a few decades out of date, and others wore pseudo-historical costumes from past-centuries--all within a single scene or play.

ANACREONTICS: Poetry or song-verse modeled on the poetry of the Greek poet Anacreon--i.e., carpe diem poetry praising hedonistic pleasures of wine, women, and song, written in trochaic tetrameter. Here is a typical example of Anacreon's poetry in Stanley's translation:

Fruitful earth drinks up the rain;
Trees from earth drink that again;
The sea drinks the air, the sun
Drinks the sea, and him the moon.
Is it reason then, d'ye think,
I should thirst when all else drink?

ANACRUSIS: The addition of an extra unstressed syllable or two at the start of a line of verse--but these additions are not considered part of the regular metrical count. Deutsch points out an example of anacrusis in the last line of this stanza by Blake, where the article the is an unstressed addition:

Innocence doth like a rose
Bloom on every maiden's cheek;
Honour twines around her brows,
The jewel health adorns her neck. (qtd. in Deutsche 14)

ANADIPLOSIS (Greek "doubling"): Repeating the last word of a clause at the beginning of the next clause. As Nietzsche said, "Talent is an adornment; an adornment is also a concealment." Ann Landers once claimed, "The poor wish to be rich, the rich wish to be happy, the single wish to be married, and the married wish to be dead." Extended anadiplosis is called gradatio. For instance, in The Caine Mutiny the captain declares: "Aboard my ship, excellent performance is standard. Standard performance is sub-standard. Sub-standard performance is not allowed." Biblically speaking, St. Paul claims, "We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope, and hope maketh man not ashamed." Samuel Johnson writes, "Labour and care are rewarded with success, success produces confidence, confidence relaxes industry, and negligence ruins the reputation which diligence had raised" (Rambler No. 21). On a more mundane level, the character of Yoda states in Star Wars, Episode I: "Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hatred; hatred leads to conflict; conflict leads to suffering." Gradatio creates a rhythmical pattern to carry the reader along the text, even as it establishes a connection between words. Anadiplosis and gradatio are examples of rhetorical schemes.

ANAGNORISIS: (Greek for "recognition"): A term used by Aristotle in the Poetics to describe the moment of tragic recognition in which the protagonist realizes some important fact or insight, especially a truth about himself, human nature, or his situation. Aristotle argues that the ideal moment for anagnorisis in a tragedy is the moment of peripeteia, the reversal of fortune. Critics often claim that the moment of tragic recognition is found within a single line of text, in which the tragic hero admits to his lack of insight or asserts the new truth he recognizes. This passage is often called the "line of tragic recognition." See further discussion under tragedy.

ANAGOGICAL: In fourfold interpretation, the anagogical reading is the fourth type of interpretation in which one reads a religious writing in an eschatological manner, i.e., the interpreter sees the passage as a revelation concerning the last days, the end of time, or the afterlife.

ANAGRAM (Greek: "writing back or anew"): When the letters or syllables in a name, word or phrase are shuffled together or jumbled to form a new word. For instance, in Tanith Lee's short story, "Bite-Me-Not, or Fleur De Fleu," the predatory vampire's name is Feroluce--an anagram of his demonic predecessor, Lucifer. Similarly in the film Angelheart, the devil travels using the anagram Louis Cipher, i.e., Lucifer as a moniker, and in film-makers' spin-offs of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Dracula uses the name Alucard as a disguise. (An anagram that functions by merely writing a name backwards is known more specifically as an ananym.) Authors who love wordplay love using anagrams. For instance, Samuel Butler's utopian satire Erewhon is an anagram of "Nowhere." Critics have suggested Hawthorne's short story "The Minister's Black Veil" involves an anagram on veil and evil. Anagrams were quite popular in the Renaissance.

ANALOGUE (also spelled analog): A story that contains similar characters, situations, settings, or verbal echoes to those found in a different story. Sometimes analogues reveal that one version was adopted from or inspired by another, or that both tales originate in a lost, older text. When one version is clearly the ancestor of another, literary scholars refer to it as a "source." For instance, Romeo and Juliet and Westside Story are analogues, with Romeo and Juliet being a loose source for the other. The character of Utnapishtim in the Babylonian flood legend is an analogue for the character of Noah in the Hebrew Bible. In other cases, analogues appear that probably have no direct connection to each other. Grettir's Saga, which includes a wrestling bout between the strongest Icelander and an evil spirit, is often thought of as an analogue to Beowulf, in which a hero with the strength of thirty men wrestles with the monster Grendel. Grettir dives under an ocean-side waterfall and does battle with a Troll-wife, just as Beowulf dives into a lake and does battle with Grendel's mother. These two pairs of scenes are analogues to each other. Most of Chaucer's stories in The Canterbury Tales have analogues with varying degrees of correspondence; often these are of French or Italian origin.

ANALOGY, LINGUISTIC: The modification of grammatical usage from the desire for uniformity. For instance, a child who states, "I broked the toy" or a man who says "I knowed the truth" is merely attempting to regularize the past tense of these verbs through linguistic analogy. Cf. hypercorrection.

ANALYTIC: A language is analytic if it requires a certain word order to make grammatical sense--often this requires extensive use of prepositions and auxiliary verbs. For instance, take the sentence, "The dog bit the boy." We know in modern English that dog is the subject and boy is the direct object because of word order, the common analytical pattern being subject-verb-object. Examples of analytic languages include French, Spanish, Modern English (but not Old English) and Italian. The opposite type of language uses declensions (special endings stuck on the ends of words) to show what case each word has. This type is called an inflected or synthetic language. Click here for more information about case.

ANALYTICAL COMPARISON: Comparison using more and most instead of -er and -est.

ANALYZED RHYME: Another term for inexact rhyme. See below.

ANANYM: See discussion under anagram.

ANAPEST: A foot or unit of poetry consisting of two light syllables followed by a single stressed syllable. Some words and phrases in English that constitute anapests include the following examples: understand, interrupt, comprehend, anapest, New Rochelle, contradict, "get a life," condescend, Coeur d'Alene, "in the blink of an eye," and so on. Anapestic meter consists of lines of poetry that follow this pattern of "light stress, light stress, heavy stress" pattern. For example: "The Assyrian came dówn like a wólf on the fóld" (Lord Byron, "The Destruction of Sennacherib") or "Oh he flies through the air with the greatest of ease." See extended discussion under meter. Click here to download a PDF handout that contrasts anapests with other types of metrical feet.

ANAPHORA (Greek, "carried again," also called epanaphora): The intentional repetition of beginning clauses in order to create an artistic effect. For instance, Churchill declared, "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on the end. We shall fight in France. We shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost shall be." The repetition of "We shall. . ." creates a rhetorical effect of solidarity and determination. A well-known example is the Beatitudes in the Bible, where nine statements in a row begin with "Blessed are." ("Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.") Anaphora is the opposite of epistrophe, in which the poet or rhetorician repeats the concluding phrase over and over for effects. Often the two can be combined effectively as well. For instance, Saint Paul writes to the church at Corinth, "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they the ministers of Christ? I am more." Here, artful use of anaphora and epistrophe combined help Paul make his point more emphatically. Both anaphora and epistrophe are examples of rhetorical schemes. They serve to lend weight and emphasis.

ANAPODOTON: Deliberately creating a sentence fragment by the omission of a clause: "If only you came with me!" If only students knew what anapodoton was! Good writers never use sentence fragments? Ah, but they can. And they do. When appropriate. Anapodoton is an example of a rhetorical scheme.

ANAPTYXIS: In linguistics, anaptyxis is the appearance of an intrusive vowel sound between two consonants when that vowel is unexpected historically or when it shouldn't be there according to the normal rules of language development. For instance, many speakers insert a schwa sound between the /l/ and /m/ in the word elm or the word film. The adjective form of this word is anaptyctic. Note that some linguists prefer to call this phenomenon svarabhakti (from the Sanskrit term), and thus they refer to the intrusive vowel as a svarabhakti vowel. Compare with the rhetorical device epenthesis.

ANASTROPHE: Inverted order of words or events as a rhetorical scheme. Anastrophe is specifically a type of hyperbaton in which the adjective appears after the noun when we expect to find the adjective before the noun. For example, Shakespeare speaks of "Figures pedantical" (LLL 5.2.407). Faulkner describes "The old bear . . . not even a mortal but an anachronism indomitable and invincible out of an old dead time." Lewis Carroll uses anastrophe in "Jabberwocky," where we hear, "Long time the manxome foe he sought. / So rested he by the Tumtum tree . . . ." T. S. Eliot writes of "Time present and time past," and so on. Particularly clever anastrophe can become a trope when it alters meaning in unusual ways. For instance, T. S. Eliot writes of "arms that wrap about a shawl" rather than "shawls that wrap about an arm" in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." See also hyperbaton. Natalie Dorsch's poem, "Just Because," makes use of extended anastrophe in a clever way to show how delightfully confused the speaker is after a romantic interlude:

I walked up the door,
shut the stairs,
said my shoes,
took off my prayers,
turned off my bed,
got into the light,
all because
you kissed me goodnight.

Here, she makes use of anastrophe in nearly every line.

Alternatively, we can use the term anastrophe as a reference to entire narratives in which the sequence of events are chopped into sections and then "shuffled" or "scrambled" into an unusual narrative order. An example of this type of anastrophe might be the sequence of events in Quentin Tarentino's film Pulp Fiction or Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five. Contrast with periodic sentence.

ANATOLIAN: A branch of Indo-European languages spoken in Asia Minor, including Hittite.

ANCHORESS: A female anchorite. These women were eremites or hermits in the medieval period who would request permission from the local pastor to be walled up alive in a small cell attached to the side of the church. There the anchoress would live out the rest of her days, relying upon the charity of the local community to provide food and water through a small opening. The practice was a common one in the medieval period. Such hermits were considered especially holy for giving up worldly concerns, and they were often highly respected as spiritual counselors. Male anchoresses are called anchorites, and the enclosures they dwell in are called anchorholds. The medieval writer Julian of Norwich was one such anchoress.

ANCHORHOLD: In medieval times, an enclosure in the wall of a church where an anchorite or anchoress would be sealed up alive as a gesture of faith.

ANCHORITE: An eremite or hermit in the medieval period who requests permission from the local pastor to be sealed up in a small cell attached to the side of the church, where the anchorite would live out the rest of his days relying upon the charity of the local community to provide food and water through a small opening. The practice was a common one in the medieval period. Such hermits were considered especially holy for giving up worldly concerns, and they were often highly respected as spiritual counselors. Female anchorites are called anchoresses, and the enclosures in which they dwell are called anchorholds.

ANCILLARY CHARACTERS (Latin ancilla: "helper" or "maid"): Less important characters who are not the primary protagonist or antagonist, but who highlight these characters or interact with them in such a way as to provide insight into the narrative action. Typical ancillary characters include foils, choric characters, deuteragonists, soubrettes, tritagonists, and stock characters. See character for more information.

ANECDOTE: A short narrative account of an amusing, unusual, revealing, or interesting event. A good anecdote has a single, definite point, and the setting, dialogue, and characters are usually subordinate to the point of the story. Usually, the anecdote does not exist alone, but it is combined with other material such as expository essays or arguments. Writers may use anecdotes to clarify abstract points, to humanize individuals, or to create a memorable image in the reader's mind. Anecdotes are similar to exempla. See exemplum.

ANGLIAN: The dialects of Old English spoken in Mercia and Northumbria. Not to be confused with the word Anglican.

ANGLICAN CHURCH: The Protestant Church in England that originated when King Henry VIII broke his ties to the Vatican in Rome (the Catholic Church).

ANGLO-FRISIAN: The sub-branch of West Germanic including English and Frisian.

ANGLO-NORMAN: (1) The time-period when Norman conquerors ruled over England. During the Anglo-Norman period from 1066 until about 1200, Norman French was the language of literature and culture in England. (2) The dialect of Norman French that evolved in England after the Normans came with William the Conquer, fought the Battle of Hastings, and ruled over England afterward. Scholars typically abbreviate the phrase as "AN." A sample writer from the Anglo-Norman period was Marie de France. See also Battle of Hastings.

ANGLO-SAXON: (1) Historically, the term refers to a group of Teutonic tribes who invaded England in the fifth and sixth centuries following the departure of Roman legions in 410 CE. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, came from the northern parts of Europe and gave their name (Angle-Land) to England, driving the native Celtic peoples into the farthest western and northern regions of Britain. We can also refer to the time-period of 410 CE up until about 1066 CE as the "Anglo-Saxon" historical period in Britain. In linguistics, the term Anglo-Saxon is also used to refer to Old English, the language spoken by these tribes and the precursor of Middle English and Modern English. See Old English. (2) In colloquial usage, the term Anglo-Saxon is often used to distinguish people of "English" ethnicity in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States--hence acronyms like "WASP" (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).

ANIMAL COMMUNICATION: The exchange of information among animals, especially as contrasted with human language and meta-language (Algeo 312). Examples include pheremone trails left by ants, semaphore communications among bees, mating calls among birds, and vocal alerts concerning different predators among certain mammals.

ANIMISM: The belief that animals, plants, and objects have their own souls or spirits inhabiting them, as in modern Japanese religions like Shinto or in many older hunter-gatherer societies in Africa, Polynesia, and Australia. Many plant spirits in classical Greek mythology probably originate in earlier animistic belief, such as dryads and hamadryads (tree-spirits), Oreiads (mountain pine-tree spirits), Meliades (fruit-trees), and Meliai (ash tree and honey-hive spirits). Other animistic spirits in Greek myth include the Oeneads and Krinaiai (well-spirits and fountain-spirits), Nephelai (cloud-spirits), Naiads (water-spirits), and Ithakiai (cave-spring spirits). See also Solar Myth and vegetationsdämon.

ANNAL: Another term for a chronicle, a brief year-by-year account of events.

ANONYMOUS: Of unknown authorship, either because the historical records are missing to shed light on the author's identity, or because the author deliberately hid his identity. Probably 90% of surviving medieval literature lacks authorial attribution. In the case of folklore and much mythology, the oldest versions are also usually anonymous.

ANTAGONIST: See discussion under character, below.

ANTHIMERIA: Artfully using a different part of speech to act as another in violation of the normal rules of grammar. This switch might involve treating a verb like a noun, or a noun like a verb, or an adjective like a verb, and so on. Thus, in 1960s pop culture, Nancy Sinatra's song "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" has a speaker who tells the implied audience, "You keep lying when you ought to be truthing. . . . You keep saming when you ought to be changing." In a more literary vein, e. e. cummings might speak of how "he sang his didn't, he danced his did." A television advertisement might exhort its listeners to "Gift him with Sports Illustrated magazine for Christmas" (as opposed to give him Sports Illustrated for Christmas). Rabelais might state, "I am going in search of the great perhaps" and when the priest Angelo is doing an effective job of controlling the city, we hear that "Lord Angelo dukes it well" in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (III, iii), and so on. Anthimeria allows poets to step into an extra-verbal realm to suggest and hint at that which cannot be put easily in words without a loss of verbal magic. Linguists more generally call this device "form shift."

ANTHOLOGY (from Grk. anther+logos, "flower-words"): Literally implying a collection of flowers, the term anthology refers to a collection of poetry, drama, or verse. English majors may be familiar with the ubiquitous Norton Anthology of British Literature, for instance. The first collection of poetry thus labeled was The Anthology, a collection of some 4,500 Greek poems dating between 490 BCE and 1,000 CE.

ANTICLIMAX (also called bathos): a drop, often sudden and unexpected, from a dignified or important idea or situation to one that is trivial or humorous. Also a sudden descent from something sublime to something ridiculous. In fiction and drama, this refers to action that is disappointing in contrast to the previous moment of intense interest. In rhetoric, the effect is frequently intentional and comic. For example: "Usama Bin Laden: Wanted for Crimes of War, Terrorism, Murder, Conspiracy, and Nefarious Parking Practices."

ANTIFEMINIST TRADITION: While some medieval women writers like Christine de Pisan and Margery Kempe advocated that women should have stronger positions in the medieval church or medieval society more generally, many other writers (mostly but not exclusively male) called for the female gender to remain in inferior or subservient positions. Other monastic writers would go so far as to declare all women evil temptresses and seductresses, inherently corrupt, conniving, incompetent, and weak-willed. Modern critics call these writers and their works the "anti-feminist tradition." The term primarily applies to patristic writers like Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine, and Saint Paul, but it more loosely applies to Juvenal, Theophrastus, Abelard, John of Salisbury, Walter Map, Hugh of Folietto, Peter of Blois, and Andreas Fieschi. In Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale," the Wife recounts how her fifth husband would read from a book of "Wykked Wyves"--apparently a collection of works in the anti-feminist tradition. Aemilia Lanyer confronts and rebuts this anti-feminist tradition in her Renaissance work, Salve Deus, Rex Judaeorum, and Virginia Woolf touches on it indirectly in her twentieth-century writings like "A Room of One's Own."

ANTI-FRATERNAL SATIRE: Medieval satire that points out (in humor or anger) the failings and hypocrisies of bad monks, friars, and nuns in particular and the secular clergy and church officers more generally. Examples from The Canterbury Tales include Chaucer's depiction of the Monk and Prioress in "The General Prologue" and the content of "The Summoner's Tale."

ANTIHERO: A protagonist who is a non-hero or the antithesis of a traditional hero. While the traditional hero may be dashing, strong, brave, resourceful, or handsome, the antihero may be incompetent, unlucky, clumsy, dumb, ugly, or clownish. Examples here might include the senile protagonist of Cervantes' Don Quixote or the girlish knight Sir Thopas from Chaucer's "Sir Thopas." In the case of the Byronic and Miltonic antihero, the antihero is a romanticized but wicked character who defies authority, and becomes paradoxically ennobled by his peculiar rejection of virtue. In this sense, Milton presents Satan in Paradise Lost as an antihero in a sympathetic manner--at least in the first half of the poem. The same is true of Heathcliffe in Emily Bronté's Wuthering Heights. Compare with the picaro.

ANTIMETABOLE (Greek, "turning about"): A rhetorical scheme involving repetition in reverse order: "One should eat to live, not live to eat." Or, "You like it; it likes you." The witches in that Scottish play chant, "Fair is foul and foul is fair." One character in Love's Labor's Lost uses antimetabole when he asks "I pretty, and my saying apt? Or I apt, and my saying pretty?" (I, ii). "The first will be last and the last will be first," and so forth. Antimetabole often overlaps with chiasmus. This device is sometimes used as a synonym for epanados in modern textbooks (though classical rhetoricians would treat it as distinct). See schemes.

ANTI-SEMITIC LITERATURE: Literature that vilifies Jews or encourages racist attitudes toward them. Much of the religious literature produced in medieval and Renaissance Europe unfortunately engaged in anti-Semitism to one degree or another. This is due to a series of sociological causes too lengthy to discuss here. Typical allegations accused Jews of killing and cannibalizing Christians, secretly poisoning wells, spreading plague and leprosy among non-Jewish neighbors, kidnapping Christian children, defiling communion wafers, and engaging in various economic crimes,the most famous being blood libel.

The irony is that, although Jews were blamed for various outbreaks of plague and the contamination of water supplies, in many such communities there were no Jews present at all. They had often been kicked out of the country long before the "crimes" took place. In 1182 Philip II banished the Jews from France, causing many Jews to flee to England, where many other Jews had sought shelter in the eleventh century. Anti-Semitic violence intensified after the crusades, culminating in the church's Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which passed laws requiring Jews to wear distinctive clothing and forbidding them from holding political office in Chrstian-controlled lands. Local bishoprics and principalities embraced these new laws, and often added their own twists, such as requiring Jews to pay additional taxes, or requiring the most senior Jewish Rabbi to submit to various ritual humiliations before the community at Easter. (In one French city, for instance, the most prestigious Rabbi had to appear on the doorsteps of the bishop's cathedral on Easter afternoon to receive a ritual blow and communal rejection.) Other secular authorities followed the ecclesiastical example by making it illegal for Jews to own land or to labor in an occupation that would compete with local Christians. Ironically, this policy forced Jews to train themselves in highly skilled professions such as law, medicine, accounting, gem-cutting, and whatnot. These lucrative professions only further aroused the envy and ire of less-skilled, less educated, and less wealthy citizens of the European kingdoms. In 1275, Edward I began to default on the loans he owed Jewish moneylenders, and in 1287, he imprisoned some 3,000 Jewish subjects, whom he ransomed to their families for cash. In spite of the Jewish payment in good faith, he issued an edict in 1290 banishing all Jews from England and confiscating all their properties. After Jews were allowed to return to France, French King Philip IV expelled them again in 1306, forcing them to flee to Germany. Mass burnings and executions of Jews took place in Germany in 1349 after an outbreak of plague, and so on--right up to the Holocaust of World War II, in which the genocide was horrifying not for its novelty, but rather for its continuation of a centuries-long tradition with the added efficiency of modern technologies like gas chambers and incinerators.

Such occurrences affect the literature of a culture as well. The Legends of the Holy Rood, for instance, recounts an Anglo-Latin story of how Jewish blasphemers drown in Christ's blood after entering a Christian church. In the tale, the doors slam shutting locking the Jews inside. The cross begin bleeding profusely until the liquid filled the entire structure and overwhelms them. The Anglo-Saxon poem Elena (St. Helen) describes the way the pious mother of Constantine tortures reluctant Jews in order to locate the remains of the true cross, which the Jews had sneakily hidden away from her in order to conceal the truth of Christ's resurrection. In Middle English, we see that Chaucer's "Prioress' Tale" likewise depicts Jews as manipulative evildoers who murder a saintly young choirboy. In the Renaissance, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice presents a Jewish lawyer, Shylock, as the villain scheming to extract a pound of flesh from his poor Christian victim, and so on, ad nauseum.

Occasionally, it is ambiguous whether readers should accept the anti-Semitism readily. For instance, the Prioress' earlier depiction in Chaucer's General Prologue suggests she has misplaced secular priorities, so Chaucer might not intend for her to be a very authoritative or holy figure when she tells her tale. Likewise, Shakespeare does a marvelous job of transforming Shylock into an indignant and injured human being rather than a moustache-twirling, two-dimensional stereotype in Shylock's "If they prick us. . . ." speech and in his soliloquies discussing the way Christians have subtly mocked him, cheated him, and insulted his family. However, such literary moments are rare in which an author questions the common anti-Semitism of the era. Thus, when we do find material that suggests a more tolerant attitude, we must approach it with a skeptical eye to make sure we are not misreading historical intent.

ANTISTROPHE: See discussion under strophe.

ANTITHESIS (plural: antitheses): Using opposite phrases in close conjunction. Examples might be, "I burn and I freeze," or "Her character is white as sunlight, black as midnight." The best antitheses express their contrary ideas in a balanced sentence. It can be a contrast of opposites: "Evil men fear authority; good men cherish it." Alternatively, it can be a contrast of degree: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for all mankind." Antithesis is an example of a rhetorical scheme. Contrast with oxymoron.

ANTITYPE: A figure, event, or symbol in the New Testament thought to be prefigured by a different figure, event, or symbol in the Old Testament. See extended discussion under typology.

APHAEARESIS (also spelled apheresis; plural: aphaeareses, adj. apheretic): Rhetorically deleting a syllable--unaccented or accented--from the beginning of a word to create a new term or phrasing. For instance, in King Lear, we hear that, "the king hath cause to plain" (3.1.39). Here, the word complain has lost its first syllable. In Hamlet 2.2.561, Hamlet asks, "Who should 'scape whipping" if every man were treated as he deserved. Note that the e- in escape has itself cleverly escaped from its position! Aphaeresis is an example of a rhetorical scheme or trope. The adjective form is apheretic. Contrast with the more precise linguistic term aphesis.

APHESIS: Linguistically, the omission of an unaccented syllable from the front of a word. Contrast with the more general rhetorical term, aphaearesis.

APOCALYPSE: From the Greek word apocalypsis ("unveiling"), an apocalypse originally referred to a mystical revelation of a spiritual truth, but has changed in twentieth-century use to refer specifically to mystical visions concerning the end of the world. The most famous Apocalypse in the Christian tradition is the book commonly known to Protestants as Revelation in the New Testament. Attributed to John of Patmos, legend states that John wrote it in exile about the year 70 AD, though surviving manuscripts are much later in date. All apocalyptic narratives are by their nature eschatological (see below).

APOCOPATED RHYME AND METER: Poetic use of apocope to create a rhyming word at the end of a line or to balance the number of syllables to stay within metrical restraints (see meter). (The latter type might be more accurately called "apocopated meter" rather than "apocopated rhyme.") For example, in Keats' poem "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," the poetic speaker refers to "a lady in the meads" instead of "a lady in the meadows," and he speaks of an "elfin grot" instead of an "elfin grotto." Clever poets use this formalistic device in a way that connects with the thematic content.

APOCOPE: Deleting a syllable or letter from the end of a word. In The Merchant of Venice, one character says, "when I ope my lips let no dog bark," and the last syllable of open falls away into ope before the reader's eyes (1.1.93-94). In Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare proclaims, "If I might in entreaties find success--/ As seld I have the chance--I would desire / My famous cousin to our Grecian tents" (4.5.148). Here the word seldom becomes seld. Apocope is an example of a rhetorical scheme. Note that some scholars modernize this word and refer to it as apocopation. Contrast with syncope.

APOCRYPHA: See discussion under canon..

APOLOGUE: Another term for a moral fable--especially a beast fable.

APOPHASIS: Denying one's intention to talk or write about a subject, but making the denial in such a way that the subject is actually discussed. For instance, a candidate for the senate might start his speech declaring, "I don't have time to list the seventeen felony counts my opponent faces, or the lurid rumors of my opponent's sexual behavior with sixteen-year old girls, or the evidence that he is engaged in tax evasion. Instead, I am going to talk about my own qualities that I would bring to the senate if you vote for me . . ." A fine example of apophasis in Shakespeare comes from Mark Antony's funeral speech in Julius Caesar:

I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts.
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man . . .
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech
To stir men's blood; I only speak right on.
Here, even as Mark Antony claims he is not present to win the listener's favor with fine words, he uses fine words to convince them. Contrast with aporia and aposiopesis, below.

APORIA (Greek: "impassable path"): The deliberate act of talking about how one is unable to talk about something. For instance, "I can't tell you how often writers use aporia." The term dubitatio refers to a subtype of aporia in which a speaker or writer pauses and deliberately reveals his doubt or uncertainty (genuine or feigned) about an issue. The aporia in the case of dubitatio is both that pause and the act of intentionally discussing that ambiguous reaction. This rhetorical ploy can make the audience feel sympathy for the speaker's dilemma, or it can help characterize the speaker as one who is open-minded and sincerely struggling with the same issues the audience faces.

More recently, literary deconstructionists like Jacques Derrida have high-jacked or modified the rhetorical term aporia, and they use it to suggest a "gap" or a lacuna that exists between what the text attempts to say and what it is forced to mean due to the constraints of language. Aporia is an example of a rhetorical trope. See also apophasis, above. Contrast with aposiopesis, below.

APOSIOPESIS: Breaking off as if unable to continue, stopping suddenly in the midst of a sentence, or leaving a statement unfinished at a dramatic moment. Sometimes the interruption is an artificial choice the author makes for a dramatic effect. For instance, Steele writes, "The fire surrounds them while -- I cannot go on." He leaves the horrific outcome of the conflagration to the readers' imaginations. On the other hand, Hotspur's dying breath provides a literary instance in which the speaker is physically unable to continue, leaving another to complete the thought:

Hotspur: O, I could prophesy,
But that the earthy and cold hand of death
Lies on my tongue. No, Percy, thou art dust,
And food for --
Prince Hal: For worms, brave Percy.
(1 Henry IV, 5.4)

Aposiopesis is a wonderful and flexible technique for showing a character's overcharged emotions. Hamlet makes use of aposiopesis to illustrate his grief and shock at his mother's behavior after the king's death. One example is when he can't finish his comparison between his mother and Niobe: "Like Niobe, all tears--why, she, even she-- / O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason / Would have mourned longer." Shakespeare again makes use of the technique when King Lear rages against his evil daughters. Shakespeare makes him so upset he can't even think of a proper punishment for them as the old king breaks down in blustering tears:

King Lear: I will have revenges on you both
That all the world shall--I will do such things--
What they are yet, I know not; but they shall be
The terrors of the earth!
(King Lear 2.4.274-77)

Virgil makes epic use of aposiopesis; he has the God Neptune become so angry at the windstorms over his ocean, he can't decide which storm-spirit to smack first or in what order to fix the resulting mess:

"But meanwhile Neptune saw the ocean's waving commotion . . . and he summoned the winds by name. 'What arrogance is this, what pride of birth, you winds to meddle here without my sanction, raising all this trouble? I'll--No the waves come first! but listen to me. You are going to pay for this!'"

We find Biblical examples of aposiopesis in the Hebrew Bible, in which Moses doesn't even dare to complete his sentence when he challenges God's decision to destroy the Israelites for their sin: "And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, 'Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the Book of Life" (Exodus 32:31).

Aposiopesis is an example of a rhetorical trope.

APOSTROPHE: Not to be confused with the punctuation mark, apostrophe is the act of addressing some abstraction or personification that is not physically present: For instance, John Donne commands, "Oh, Death, be not proud." King Lear proclaims, "Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend, / More hideous when thou show'st thee in a child / Than the sea-monster." Death, of course, is a phenomenon rather than a proud person, and ingratitude is an abstraction that hardly cares about Lear's opinion, but the act of addressing the abstract has its own rhetorical power. An apostrophe is an example of a rhetorical trope.

APOTROPAIC: Designed to ward off evil influence or malevolent spirits by frightening these forces away. In many cultures, elaborate artwork depicting monsters would be created to have an apotropaic affect. For instance, the fierce "celestial dogs" (Fu dogs) carved outside the entrance to Tibetan temples would keep evil spirits from entering the holy ground, and Amerindian shamans would wear frightening, grotesque "medicine masks" when they visited sick members of their tribe to terrify the evil spirits making them sick. It has been suggested that the presence of gargoyles and grotesques on medieval cathedrals is a remnant of older pagan practices, in which monstrous apotropaic figures would be carved on the front of ships and over the entrances to buildings to ward off evil influences. Many Anglo-Saxon charms may have been apotropaic chants.

APRON STAGE: A stage that projects out into the auditorium area. This enlarges the square footage available for actors to walk and move upon. This feature was not common in the days of classical Greco-Roman theater, but it was a common architectural trait in Elizabethan times and remains in use in some modern theaters. An apron stage is also known as a thrust stage.

ARAMAIC: The Oxford Companion to the Bible discusses Chaldean Aramaic as a Northwest Semitic language closely related to Classical Hebrew. Classical Hebrew developed as an offshoot of proto-Canaanite around 1,000 BCE. and it was commonly used as a vernacular until about 500 BCE. Aramaic slowly replaced Classical Hebrew as a language of the common people. It was originally written in the 22 letters of the Phoenician alphabet, and it became common in territory controlled by the Chaldeans. It differed somewhat in its definite articles and its vocabulary from Classical Hebrew, but it had many close cognates (such as Hebrew shalom and Aramaic shelam, "peace"). After the year 500 BCE, Aramaic gradually became the vernacular language used in the Palestinian region and especially in Galilee. Jeremiah 10:11 is written in Aramaic, as is Ezra 4:8-6:18 and 7:12-26 (c. 450 BCE). The original book of Daniel was probably written in Aramaic as well, though only Daniel 2:4b-7:28 remain in the original tongue. Genesis 31:47 contains an Aramaic place-name--indicating this section is a late revision to early Genesis texts. Many of Christ's quotations in the New Testament are in Aramaic, such as "Talitha cum" (Mark 5:41) and "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani" (Mark 15:34; cf. Matt: 27:46 with variant readings in the Hebrew). See J. A. Emerton's entry in Metzer and Coogan, 45-46.

ARCHAISM: A word, expression, spelling, or phrase that is out of date in the common speech of an era, but still deliberately used by a writer, poet, or playwright for artistic purposes. For instance, two archaic words (reproduced here in italics) appear in these lines from Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

"Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

Until fairly recent centuries, it was still common to find poets using "I ween," "steed," and "gramercy" in their poems, even though they wouldn't use these terms in normal daily speech. Artists might choose an archaism over a more familiar word because it is more suitable for meter, for rhyme, for alliteration, or for its associations with the past. It also might be attractive as a quick way to defamiliarize an everyday phrase or object.

Note that for Shakespeare in the sixteenth century, the use of thy and thine is not particularly archaic, but for John Updike in the twentieth century, the use of thy and thine is definitely archaic. Spenser, an avid Chaucer fan, used archaisms to imitate fourteenth-century Chaucerian spelling and language in his fifteenth-century poem, The Faerie Queen. The translators of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) revived archaisms to give weight and dignity to sonorous passages. Later in the seventeenth century, Milton employed Latinate archaisms in Paradise Lost, even going so far as to imitate the periodic sentence structure preferred by classical Roman poets, even though Latin was a dead language by his day. Coleridge, Keats, William Morris, and Tennyson also used archaisms for creating pseudo-medieval effects in specific poems, such as Tennyson's Idylls of the King (1842-1885). This tendency in nineteenth-century poetry mirrors the growth of romanticized pseudo-medieval visual art among the nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelites. An extended example of deliberate archaisms appears in Keats's The Eve of Saint Mark (c. 1819). In one section, the character Bertha reads from a legend of "Holy Mark," and Keats shifts to archaisms to reproduce the imaginary text in language imitating that of the fourteenth century:

Approuchen thee full dolourouse
For sooth to sain from everich house
Be it in city or village
Wol come the Phantom and image
Of ilka gent and ilka carle
Whom coldé Deathé hath in parle. . . .

Archaisms are more rare in modern and postmodern poetry. Cf. anachronism.

ARCHETYPAL CRITICISM: The analysis of a piece of literature through the examination of archetypes and archetypal patterns in Jungian psychology. See archetype below.

ARCHETYPE: An original model or pattern from which other later copies are made, especially a character, an action, or situation that seems to represent common patterns of human life. Often, archetypes include a symbol, a theme, a setting, or a character that some critics think have a common meaning in an entire culture, or even the entire human race. These images have particular emotional resonance and power. Archetypes recur in different times and places in myth, literature, folklore, fairy tales, dreams, artwork, and religious rituals. Using the comparative anthropological work of Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough, the psychologist Carl Jung theorized that the archetype originates in the collective unconscious of mankind, i.e., the shared experiences of a race or culture, such as birth, death, love, family life, and struggles to survive and grow up. These would be expressed in the subconscious of an individual who would recreate them in myths, dreams, and literature. Examples of archetypes found cross-culturally include the following:

(1) Recurring symbolic situations (such as the orphaned prince or the lost chieftain's son raised ignorant of his heritage until he is rediscovered by his parents, or the damsel in distress rescued from a hideous monster by a handsome young man who later marries the girl. Also, the long journey, the difficult quest or search, the catalog of difficult tasks, the pursuit of revenge, the descent into the underworld, redemptive rituals, fertility rites, the great flood, the End of the World),

(2) Recurring themes (such as the Faustian bargain; pride preceding a fall; the inevitable nature of death, fate, or punishment; blindness; madness; taboos such as forbidden love, patricide, or incest),

(3) Recurring characters (such as witches or ugly crones who cannibalize children, lame blacksmiths of preternatural skill, womanizing Don Juans, the hunted man, the femme fatale, the snob, the social climber, the wise old man as mentor or teacher, star-crossed lovers; the caring mother-figure, the helpless little old lady, the stern father-figure, the guilt-ridden figure searching for redemption, the braggart, the young star-crossed lovers, the bully, the villain in black, the oracle or prophet, the mad scientist, the underdog who emerges victorious, the mourning widow or women in lamentation),

(4) Symbolic colors (green as a symbol for life, vegetation, or summer; blue as a symbol for water or tranquility; white or black as a symbol of purity; or red as a symbol of blood, fire, or passion) and so on.

(5) Recurring images (such as blood, water, pregnancy, ashes, cleanness, dirtiness, caverns, phallic symbols, yonic symbols, the ruined tower, the rose or lotus, the lion, the snake, the eagle, the hanged man, the dying god that rises again, the feast or banquet, the fall from a great height).

The study of these archetypes in literature is known as archetypal criticism or mythic criticism. Archetypes are also called universal symbols. Contrast with private symbol.

ARCHON, EPONYMOUS: An official in classical Athens. The holder of this office arranged the production of tragedies and comedies at annual festivals honoring Dionysus. Each year was named after the officiating eponymous archon. Contrast with the choragos, the individual who paid for a tragedy's performance and thus won the lead-spot in the chorus.

ARENA STAGE: A theater arrangement in which viewers sit encircling the stage completely. The actors enter and exit by moving along the same aisles the audience uses. This often encourages interaction between cast and audience. Frequently this type of stage is situated outdoors. This type of theatrical arrangement is also called theater in the round.

AREOPAGUS (Greek, "Hill of Ares."): (1) Also known as "Mars Hill," this location near the Acropolis served in classical times as a high court of appeal in criminal and civil cases and according to ancient tradition, an individual could stand on this hill and make a speech on any subject--no matter how unpopular. In early Patristic times, it was at this location that Saint Paul delivered his speech concerning the "Unknown God" in Acts 17:18-34. The location became associated in John Milton's mind with freedom of speech and the open debate of ideas to find greater truths; hence, Milton wrote an essay opposed to the Licensing Act of 1643. The essay's title, Areopagitica, comes from the Areopagus.

ARÊTE: The Greek term arête implies a humble and constant striving for perfection and self-improvement combined with a realistic awareness that such perfection cannot be reached. As long as an individual strives to do and be the best, that individual has arête. As soon as the individual believes he has actually achieved arête, however, he or she has lost that exalted state and fallen into hubris, unable to recognize personal limitations or the humble need to improve constantly.

ARGUMENT: A statement of a poem's major point--usually appearing in the introduction of the poem. Spenser presents such an argument in the introduction to his eclogues, Coleridge presents such in his marginalia to The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and Milton most famously presents such in Book One of Paradise Lost, where he proclaims he will "assert eternal providence / And justify the ways of God to man." Cf. thesis.

ARRAS: In Renaissance drama, a hanging tapestry or a curtain that covered a part of the frons scenae. It hid the discovery space and may have draped around the stage's edge to hide the open area underneath. In Hamlet, Hamlet stabs Polonius through such an arras.

ARSIS: In classical metrical analysis, Greeks referred to the stressed syllable in a metrical foot as a thesis, and the unstressed syllable in a metrical foot as an arsis. Unfortunately, the Roman analysts used the exact opposite terminology, with the thesis being their unstressed foot and the arsis being the stressed foot. This inconsistency results in much confusion to modern students.

ARTHURIAN: Related to the legends of King Arthur and his knights. A large body of ancient and recent literature is Arthurian in whole or part, including these examples:

  • Celtic myths (such as the Welsh "Raid on Annwfn")
  • The Mabinogion
  • Legends of the Grail King and the Fisher King
  • Historical documents about the battle at Mons Badis, General Arturius, and other sixth-century subjects some scholars claim are evidence of a historical basis for later legends
  • Welsh/Latin annals attributed to the so-called "Nennius" (i.e., medieval Latin writings mistakenly attributed to this person in outdated scholarship)
  • Oral legends transmitted by Breton conteurs in France between 1100-1175
  • Pseudo-histories written by Geoffrey of Monmouth (circa 1136)
  • French stories of courtly love in medieval romances (such as Tristram and Iseult, or Lancelot and Gwenevere)
  • Religious allegories about the quest for the holy grail, such as the Queste du Sainte-Graal (c. 1210)
  • Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival (c. 1205)
  • Legends of King Mark of Cornwall, Tristan, and Iseult, such as the eleventh-century poems of Eilhart von Oberg and Thomas d'Angleterre, Beroul's The Romance of Tristan, the anonymous La folie Tristan de Berne, and Gottfried Von Strassburg's Tristan (c. 1205)
  • Layamon's Brut (c. 1200)
  • The anonymous Alliterative Morte Arthur and the Stanzaic Morte Arthur (c. 1360)
  • The Pearl Poet's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (c. 1375)
  • Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale" (c. 1385)
  • Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur (1469)
  • Spenser's Faerie Queene (1590-96)
  • Scott's Bridal of Triermain (1813)
  • Peacock's "The Misfortunes of Elphin" (1829)
  • Morris's The Defense of Guinevere
  • Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott (1832)
  • Tennyson's Idylls of the King (1885)
  • Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
  • Wagner's operas
  • E. A. Robinson's Merlin, Lancelot, and Tristram (1915-25)
  • T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone and The Once and Future King
  • Marion Zimmer-Bradley's feminist/revisionist tales such as The Mists of Avalon
  • A legion of popular films, cartoons, graphic novels, and works of fantasy literature.

See also courtly love, medieval romance, and chivalry.

ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGE: Not to be confused with what linguists call grammatically synthetic (inflected) languages, artificial languages are deliberately "made up" by a small number of individuals for some specific purpose rather than developing naturally over a period of centuries. Examples of artificial languages designed for international use include Esperanto, Volapük, and Neo-Latin. Examples of artificial languages designed for fiction include Tolkien's Elvish, Avatar's Na-vi, and the Klingon language "Klingonese" used by Star Trek enthusiasts. Contrast with synthetic languages.

ARZAMAS: A Russian literary circle active between 1815-1818; it consisted of poets such as Zhukovski, Batyushkov, Vyazemski, Pushkin, and others. The group focused on writing and sharing parodies of their literary opponents, most of whom favored a heavily Slavonicized style (Harkins 9).

ASC: An alternative spelling for ash or aesc.

ASCERTAINMENT: The Enlightenment's desire for and obsession with standardization and regulation of the English language--i.e., making grammatical rules. Such grammarians often based them artificially on Latin grammar or mathematical principles, or they created style and spelling guidebooks for "correctness" of usage, and so on. A. C. Baugh quotes Samuel Johnson's definition of the word and argues that it and argues this term sums up Enlightenment desires for prescriptivist grammar (Baugh 257-58).

ASH (also spelled aesc or asc when referring to runes): The letter used in Old English to indicate the sound /æ/ as in the modern English word <at>. The name comes from the Old Norse rune aesc. Click here for more information.

ASIDE: In drama, a few words or a short passage spoken by one character to the audience while the other actors on stage pretend their characters cannot hear the speaker's words. It is a theatrical convention that the aside is not audible to other characters on stage. Contrast with soliloquy. The aside is usually indicated by stage directions.

ASIMOV'S THREE LAWS OF ROBOTICS: Science fiction author Isaac Asimov originally posited Asimov's three laws in his short stories collected in I, Robot. These laws were mathematical limitations or hardwired parameters for robotic behavior as follows:

(1) The First Law: Robots must not harm a human being or through inaction allow a human being to come to harm.
(2) The Second Law: Robots must obey direct commands from human beings, unless those commands would conflict with the First Law.
(3) The Third Law: Robots must preserve their own existence, unless doing so would conflict with the Second or First Law.

These three laws became a long-running framework for a number of science fiction plots in novels like The Caves of Steel. In later novels, the robots themselves end up facing ethical conflicts and end up altering their own programming to embrace a so-called "Zeroth Law":

(0) The Zeroth Law: No robot may harm humanity or through inaction allow or allow humanity to come to harm.

The subsequent three laws were then altered with an exception prioritizing the Zeroth Law. Asimov used the three laws as a means of exploring thematically the ethics of responsibility--often contrasting the benevolent devotion of the robots and the fallible passions of their human masters, making them foils. Unlike many science fiction authors who focus on a Frankenstein motif, Asimov assumed an optimistic outlook on robotic intelligence.

ASK WORD: In linguistics, Algeo defines this as any of the words whose historical /æ/ sound becomes the vowel /a/ in Eastern New England and in British pronunciation (313).

ASPIRATION (adjective form, aspirated): A puff of breath made along with a consonant sound while vocalizing.

ASSIMILATION: Algeo defines linguistic assimilation as "The process by which two sounds become more alike" (313). We can see this in the word spaceship, where the /s/ sound represented by the <c> often assimilates or blurs to match the sound represented by the <sh>. Assimilation also occurs when the <-ed> endings of words are pronounced /t/ after unvoiced sounds but /d/ after voiced sounds (313).

ASSOCIATIVE CHANGE: See paradigmatic change.

ASSONANCE: Repeating identical or similar vowels (especially in stressed syllables) in nearby words. Assonance in final vowels of lines can often lead to half-rhyme. Deutsche notes that assonance is a common technique in the poetry of G. M. Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, and more generally in popular ballads; an example appears in the second and fourth lines of this stanza from "Fair Annie":

Bind up, bind up your yellow hair,
And tie it on your neck;
And see you look as maiden-like
As the day that first we met. (qtd in Deutsche 140).

If combined with consonnance, assonance can create actual full rhyme. Cf. alliteration.

ASTEISMUS: A sub-category of puns. See discussion under pun.

A-STEM: A declension of Old English nouns. At one point, this declension had a thematic vowel appearing in front of its inflectional suffixes. The a-stem declension ultimately became the source of the genitive 's and plural s in Modern English. Contrast with the n-stem.

ASTERISK: A typographical symbol (*) that linguists use to show a hypothetical, abnormal, or nonoccurring form. For instance, *dwo is a hypothetical reconstruction of the Indo-European word for two. It probably existed, but it survives in no written examples. On the other hand, *thinked is nonoccurring preterite or participle that could theoretically exist instead of thought.

ASTERISM: A rather obscure punctuation mark to most modern users, an asterism consists of a triangle of three tiny asterisks, two on the bottom of a line, and one centered above those two. Textual editors used to insert the asterism to indicate that a small spot in a manuscript was damaged or missing. Most modern editors simply insert a line of asterisks or use ellipses to indicate these lacunae in modern editions. To create an asterism on a PC, the uniform code is U+2042, though no keystroke exists on the keyboard itself.

ASYNDETON: The artistic elimination of conjunctions in a sentence to create a particular effect. See schemes for more information.

ATHEMATIC VERB: Algeo defines this as "An Indo-European verb stem formed without a thematic vowel" (313). The letter m in Modern English verb am is a remnant of an Indo-European athematic verb ending.

ATMOSPHERE (Also called mood): The emotional feelings inspired by a work. The term is borrowed from meteorology to describe the dominant mood of a selection as it is created by diction, dialogue, setting, and description. Often the opening scene in a play or novel establishes an atmosphere appropriate to the theme of the entire work. The opening of Shakespeare's Hamlet creates a brooding atmosphere of unease. Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher establishes an atmosphere of gloom and emotional decay. The opening of Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 establishes a surreal atmosphere of confusion, and so on. Compare with ambiance, above.

AUBADE (also called a dawn song): A genre of poetry in which a short poem's subject is about the dawn or the coming of the dawn, or it is a piece of music meant to be sung or played outdoors at dawn. Examples include Browning's "The year's at the spring / And day's at the morn" from Pippa Passes or Shakespeare's "Hark! hark! the lark." Some poems, such as John Donne's "Busy old sun," share traits with the dawn song. Troilus and Criseyde also contains an example of the genre within its larger narrative. Cf. the Provençal equivalent, an alba.

AUBE: A dawn-song or aubade, but specifically one sung by a friend watching over a pair of lovers until dawn to prevent any interruption to their love-making or to cover up the noise of the love-making. Contrast with aubade, above.

AUCTOR / AUCTORITAS: The Latin word auctor is the source for the modern English word author, but the medieval word carries a special resonance and seriousness the modern word lacks. The terms differ in intellectual connotation. Thus, when Chaucer writes of "mine auctor," he suggests his source is especially authoritative because that writer incorporates non-original (but valuable) ideas into his own work. The power of an auctor comes not from his novelty or originality; instead, the author takes conventional, authoritative ideas, and uses these concepts to supplement his own thinking in an original manner. The auctor, thus, uses established, valuable material to supplement his original ideas without slavishly regurgitating them. We see the distinction spelled out most clearly by Saint Bonaventure. Bonaventure famously writes,

There are four ways of making a book. There are some who write down the words of others, without adding or changing a thing, and he who does so is a scribe [Latin scriptor]. There are those who write down others' words, and add something; however not their own additions. One who does this is a compiler [L. compilator]. Then, there are those who write down both others' and their own things, but material of others predominates, and their own is added like an annex for clarification. Who does this is called a commentator [L. commentator], rather than an author. But he who writes both what comes from himself and from others, with the material of others annexed for the purpose of confirming his own, ought to be called author [L. auctor].

For Saint Bonaventure, and for literate medieval culture generally, originality was not the point of art or intellectual endeavors. Medieval writers did not think originality for its own sake was a virtue--not the way modern Americans do in these post-Romantic periods. Calling someone an auctor is the highest compliment possible; it implies what the writer has produced is an opus [Latin for "work"]--a masterwork of thought in which the author has synthesized and made use of other writings productively without slavishly following them or merely compiling them. It implies the auctor has created a powerful amalgamation of thought that had never existed before by using these earlier works as a stepping stone. However, it does not imply the author created the work ex nihilo, out of nothing. That sort of "made-up" originality was not seen as valuable or worthwhile. Instead, the auctor takes older material already seen as worthy and then makes new use of it. The traditional or accepted material is what gives him auctoritas (authority); it demonstrates that the writer or poet has mastered the ideas of others, and thus is ready to produce something of his own to supplement and build upon the earlier material.

AUDIENCE: The person(s) reading a text, listening to a speaker, or observing a performance.

AUDITORY IMAGERY: Descriptive language that evokes noise, music, or other sounds. See imagery.

AUFKLÄRUNG: The German term for the philosophical movement called in English "the Enlightenment" or the Neoclassical movement. See Enlightenment.

AUGUSTAN: This adjective has two meanings, the second of which is most pertinent to English students. (1) Classical Latin scholarship uses Augustan to refer to the time when Caesar Augustus ruled Rome--the time of Virgil, Horace, and the birth of Christ: a period of conscious style and high literary endeavor. (2) More generally, literary scholars use Augustan to refer to any important or pivotal period of any national literature, especially eighteenth-century England and the "Augustan" writers: Pope, Swift, Addison, Johnson, and Goldsmith.

AUGUSTINIAN TIME: Saint Augustine's idea of eternity, in which eternity and the afterlife are not an endless linear continuation--like a book with infinite pages or a story that never ends--but rather a state of timelessness, in which no time ever passes at all--a frozen snapshot of joy that lasts forever but which cannot undergo progression, alteration, or further development. Augustine inherited a tradition in Greek philosophy in which perfection would be an absolute. If something is perfect, by definition it cannot be improved further. Thus, any change that occur in a state of perfection would render that state imperfect. But if change happened to God or to heaven, wouldn't that force the already-perfect state to become imperfect?

Accordingly, in Augustine's view, any hypothetically perfect things (like God or heaven in Christian theology) by definition do not and cannot change, and therefore these perfect things must not experience time as imperfect humanity does. They are sub specie aeternitatis, outside of time completely and viewing all things in the bubble at time simultaneously. Accordingly, states of time (past, present, and future) are merely illusions we experience. The past only appears to be over and the future only appears not to have happened yet because our mortal perception is limited to the present moment rather than experiencing all reality at once. In Saint Augustine's thinking, perfect and spiritual beings outside of time experience past, present, and future simultaneously. For Saint Augustine, this idea of time allows God to have knowledge of future events and choices humans make while preserving human free will, suggesting God can know what choices we will make tomorrow (because we actually have already made the choices), without God necessarily causing those choices to happen through his own influence--foreknowledge without causation. In terms of God's perceptions, all those future choices already happened and are done with--humans just don't know it yet.

AUREATE DICTION (alias AUREATE TERMS): As Simon Horobin puts it, "An elevated rhetorical style of writing characterized by a large number of Latinate loanwords" (192). The use of unusual words from Latin was a conscious stylistic flourish in Middle English, an elevated rhetorical style of writing. Also such Latinate words themselves. Compare with Renaissance inkhorn terms.

AUSTRONESIAN: A family of Pacific and Indian ocean languages separate from the Indo-European family. These include the native tongues of Madagascar, Hawaii, and thousands of Pacific islands. Malay and Polynesian are two examples of Austronesian languages.

AUTHORIAL VOICE: The voices or speakers used by authors when they seemingly speak for themselves in a book. (In poetry, this might be called a poetic speaker). The use of this term makes it clear in critical discussion that the narration or presentation of a story is not necessarily to be identified with the biographical and historical author. Instead, the authorial voice may be another fiction created by the author. It is often considered poor form for a modern literary critic to equate the authorial voice with the historical author, but this practice was common in the nineteenth century. However, twentieth-century critics have pointed out that often a writer will assume a false persona of attitudes or beliefs when she writes, or that the authorial voice will speak of so-called biographical details that cannot possibly be equated with the author herself. In the early twentieth-century, New Critics also pointed out that linking the authorial voice with the biographical author often unfairly limited the possible interpretations of a poem or narrative. Finally, many writers have enjoyed writing in the first person and creating unreliable narrators--speakers who tell the story but who obviously miss the significance of the tale they tell, or who fail to connect important events together when the reader does. Because of these reasons, it is often considered naive to assume that the authorial voice is a "real" representation of the historical author.

Famous instances in which the authorial voice diverges radically from the biographical author include the authorial voice in the mock-epic Don Juan (here, the authorial voice appears as a crusty, jaded, older man commenting on the sordid passions of youth, while the author Lord Byron was himself a young man) and the authorial narrator of Cervante's Don Quixote (who attests that the main character Don Quixote is quite mad, and despises his lunacy even while "accidentally" unveiling the hero's idealism as a critique of the modern world's fixation with factual reality).

Examples of unreliable narrators include the narrator of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (the speaker, a pilgrim named Geoffrey, appears to be a dumbed-down caricature of the author Geoffrey Chaucer, but one who has little skill at poetry and often appears to express admiration for character-traits that the larger rhetoric of the poem clearly condemns). In a more modern example, the mentally disabled character in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (who is completely unable to interpret the events taking place around him) serves as an unreliable narrator, as does Tom Hanks' character in the film Forest Gump. See also poetic speaker.

AUTO-DA-FÉ (Portuguese, "act of faith"--equivalent to Span. auto-de-fe): The late medieval church's ceremonial execution en masse of accused witches, Jews, heretics, or Muslims--often performed by burning at the stake. In literature, such scenes become stock material for gothic novels (e.g. Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum"). In Voltaire's Candide, Pangloss and Candide are nearly burned to death in such a ritual after Pangloss argues about theology with an Inquisitorial familiar (i.e., a spy).

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL: In contrast with the pure autobiography, an autobiographical novel is a semi-fictional narrative based in part on the author's life experience, but these experiences are often transposed onto a fictional character or intermixed with fictional events. Examples include Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel and James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: A non-fictional account of a person's life--usually a celebrity, an important historical figure, or a writer--written by that actual person. Contrast with the autobiographical novel, above.

AUTOGRAPH: While fans and collectors in pop culture uses the term to refer to a celebrity's signature of his or her name, literary scholars use the term more loosely to refer to any lines of text written in the author's own hand--including marginal notes, bills, and doodling as well as actual, complete literary texts. It is possible that a few pages of the play Sir Thomas More are written in Shakespeare's hand, and thus are Shakespeare's autograph.

AUTO SACRAMENTAL ("Sacramental Act"): A drama of one act symbolizing the sacrament of Eucharist in Spanish literature between 1200 and 1600 CE. The play might overtly involve religious, mythical, historical, or allegorical subjects--but ultimately it would contain some hidden relationship to communion. Conventionally, the play terminated with praise of the Eucharist. Calderòn de la Barca wrote several fine examples.

AUXESIS: Another term for rhetorical climax. See climax, rhetorical, below.

AWDL (from Middle Welsh odl): The term in Welsh poetry has come to acquire several meanings. In its earliest usage, an awdl meant a stave bearing the rhyme in any poem. Next, it came to mean a series of monorhymes or a poem in monorhyme by a bard. Even later, the term came to mean a poem written in awdl meter. By the late Renaissance, the term meant a lengthy poem written in cynghanedd and in one of the strict meters. In modern Wales, the creation of an effective awdl is considered the apogee of a bard's achievement. See also bard, cynghanedd, monorhyme, and strict meter.

AZBUKA: The alphabet derived from Old Church Slavonic language, common in Russian and other slavic languages, alias the Cyrillic alphabet. See Cyrillic.

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M]

[N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]

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I consulted the following works while preparing this list. I have tried to give credit to specific sources when feasible, but in many cases multiple reference works use the same examples or provide the same dates for common information. Students should examine these resources for more information than these humble webpages provide:

Works Cited:

  • Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Pub., 1993. [Now superseded by later editions.]
  • ---. "Poetic Forms and Literary Terminology." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 7th edition. Volume 1. New York: Norton, 2000. 2944-61. 2 Vols.
  • Algeo, John and Thomas Pyles. The Origin and Development of the English Language. 5th edition. U.S.A., 2004.
  • Baugh, A. C. and Thomas Cable. A History of the English Language. 5th edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2002.
  • Brown, Michelle P. Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms. London: The British Library and the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.
  • Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. [Originally published 1977 as Griechische Religion der archaischen und klassischen Epoche.] Trans. John Raffan. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1985.
  • Catholic University of America Editorial Staff. The New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: McGraw-Hill. 1967-79.
  • Corbett, Edward P. J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.
  • Cuddon, J. A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. London: Penguin Books, 1991.
  • Damrosch, David, gen. ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 2nd Compact Edition. Volume A. New York: Pearson, 2004. 3 Vols.
  • Deutsch, Babette. Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms. Fourth Edition. New York: Harper and Row, 1974. Reprint as Barnes and Noble Edition, 1981.
  • Drout, Michael D. C. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. New York: Routledge, 2007.
  • Duffy, Seán. Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2005.
  • Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983.
  • Elkhadem, Saad. The York Dictionary Literary Terms and Their Origin: English, French, German, Spanish. York P, 1976.
  • Gabel, John B. and Charles B. Wheeler. The Bible as Literature: An Introduction. New York: Oxford U P, 1986.
  • Giroux, Joan. The Haiku Form. New York: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1974. Reprinted New York: Barnes and Noble, 1999.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen. "Glossary." The Norton Shakespeare: Tragedies. New York: Norton, 1997. 1139-43.
  • Guerin, Wilfred L., et al. "Glossary." A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. 2nd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1979. 317-29.
  • Harkins, Williams E. Dictionary of Russian Literature. The New Students Outline Series. Patterson, New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, and Co., 1959.
  • Harvey, Sir Paul and Dorothy Eagle, eds. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969.
  • Holman, C. Hugh. A Handbook to Literature. 3rd edition. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1972.
  • Hopper, Vincent Foster. Medieval Number Symbolism: Its Sources, Meaning, and Influence on Thought and Expression. 1938. Republished Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000.
  • Horobin, Simon. Chaucer's Language. New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2007.
  • Kane, George. The Autobiographical Fallacy in Chaucer and Langland Studies. London: H. K. Lewis, 1965.
  • Lacy, Norris J. The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1996.
  • Lanham, Richard A. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 2nd edition. Berkeley: U of California P, 1991.
  • Marshall, Jeremy and Fred McDonald. Questions of English. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.
  • Mawson, C. O. Sylvester and Charles Berlitz. Dictionary of Foreign Terms. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 2nd ed. 1975.
  • McManus, Damian. Ogam Stones At University College Cork. Cork: Cork U P, 2004.
  • Metzger, Bruce M. and Michael D. Coogan, eds. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. New York: Oxford U P, 1993.
  • O'Donoghue, Heather. Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA:Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
  • Page, P.K. "Forward." Hologram. Brick Books, London, Ontario: 1994.
  • Palmer, Donald. Looking At Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter. 2nd edition. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1994.
  • Peck, Harry Thurston. Harper's Dictionary of Clasical Literature and Antiquities. New York: The American Book Company, 1923. 2 vols.
  • Perelman, Ch. and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca. The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation. Notre Dame, U of Notre Dame P, 2000.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989.
  • Quinn, Arthur. Figures of Speech: 60 Ways to Turn a Phrase. Davis, California: Hermagoras P, 1993.
  • Rae, Gail. Guide to Literary Terms. Staten Island, New York: Research and Educational Association, 1998.
  • Roberts, Edgar V. and Henry E. Jacobs. "Glossary of Literary Terms." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 6th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. 2028-50.
  • Scott, Kathleen L. Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390-1490. A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 6. London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1996. 2 Vols.
  • Shaw, Harry. Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
  • Shipley, Joseph T. Dictionary of World Literature: Criticism, Forms, Technique. The Philosophical Library. New York: Philosophical Library, 1943.
  • Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary. 1989.
  • Smith, David P. "Glossary of Grammar Terms." [Miscellaneous handouts made available to students in Basic Greek at Carson-Newman College in the Fall Term of 2006.]
  • Swain, Dwight V. Creating Characters. The Elements of Fiction Writing. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1990.
  • Williams, Jerri. "Schemes and Tropes." [Miscellaneous handouts made available to her graduate students at West Texas A & M University in the Fall Term of 1993.]
  • Yasuda, Kenneth. The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1957.
  • Zenkovsky, Serge A. Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles, and Tales. Rev Ed. New York: Meridian Books, 1974.
  • Zireaux. E-mail Communication. 21 June 2012.

 

 

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