Welcome to the website dedicated to literary devices (literary terms). Here you will find a list literary devices (literary terms) with definitions and examples. Please feel free to post your thoughts and vote on your favorite literary device.
The term ‘periphrasis’ refers to the use of excessive language and surplus words to convey a meaning that could otherwise be conveyed with fewer words and in more direct a manner. The use of this literary device can be to embellish a sentence, to create a grander effect, to beat around the bush and to draw attention away from the crux of the message being conveyed.

Instead of simply saying “I am displeased with your behavior”, one can say, “the manner in which you have conducted yourself in my presence of late has caused me to feel uncomfortable and has resulted in my feeling disgruntled and disappointed with you”.

Personification is one of the most commonly used and recognized literary devices. It refers to the practice of attaching human traits and characteristics with inanimate objects, phenomena and animals.

“The raging winds”

“The wise owl”

“The warm and comforting fire”

The plot usually refers to the sequence of events and happenings that make up a story. There is usually a pattern, unintended or intentional, that threads the plot together. The plot basically refers to the main outcome and order of the story. There is another kind of plot in literature as well; it refers to the conflict or clash occurring as a part of the story. The conflict usually follows 3 regular formats: a) characters in conflict with one another b) characters in conflict with their surroundings and c) characters in conflict with themselves.

Many date movies follow a similar simple plot. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back in the end.

In literature, the ‘point of view’ is a literary device that depicts the manner in which a story is narrated/ depicted and who it is that tells the story. Simply put, the point of view determines the angle and perception of the story unfolding, and thus influences the tone in which the story takes place. The point of view is instrumental in manipulating the reader’s understanding of the narrative. In a way, the point of view can allow or withhold the reader access into the greater reaches of the story. Two of the most common point of view techniques are the first person, wherein the story is told by the narrator from his/ her standpoint and the third person wherein the narrator does not figure in the events of the story and tells the story by referring to all characters and places in the third person with third person pronouns and proper nouns.

In the popular Lord of the Rings book series, the stories are narrated in the third person and all happenings are described from an “outside the story” point of view. Contrastingly, in the popular teen book series, Princess Diaries, the story is told in the first person, by the protagonist herself.

In literature, the literary device ‘polysyndeton’ refers to the process of using conjunctions or connecting words frequently in a sentence, placed very close to one another, as opposed to the usual norm of using them sparsely, only where they are technically needed. The use of polysyndetons is primarily for adding dramatic effect as they have a strong rhetorical presence.

For example:

a) Saying “here and there and everywhere”, instead of simply saying “here, there and everywhere”.

b) “Marge and Susan and Anne and Daisy and Barry all planned to go for a picnic”, instead of “Marge, Susan, Anne, Daisy and Barry…” emphasizes each of the individuals and calls attention to every person one by one instead of assembling them as a group.

In literature, this device refers to the practice of joining together two or more words in order to create an entirely new word. This is often done in order to create a name or word for something by combining the individual characteristics of 2 or more other words.

1. The word “smog” is a portmanteau that was built combining “fog” and “smoke” and “smog” has the properties of both fog and smoke.

2. Liger= Lion + Tiger= A hybrid of the two feline species, possessing characteristics of both.

A prologue can be understood to be a sort of introduction to a story that usually sets the tone for the story and acts as a bit of a backgrounder or a “sneak peek” into the story. Prologues are typically a narrative ‘spoken’ by one of the characters and not from the part of the author.

1. "The origin of this story is..."

2. “It all began one day when…”

Puns are a very popular literary device wherein a word is used in a manner to suggest two or more possible meanings. This is generally done to the effect of creating humor or irony or wryness. Puns can also refer to words that suggest meanings of similar-sounding words. The trick is to make the reader have an “ah!” moment and discover 2 or more meanings.

Santa’s helpers are known as subordinate Clauses.

See more examples of puns at http://punjokes.com/

The rhyme scheme is the practice of rhyming words placed at the end of the lines in the prose/ poetry. Rhyme scheme refers to the order in which particular words rhyme. If the alternate words rhyme, it is an “a-b-a-b” rhyme scheme, which means “a” is the rhyme for the lines 1 and 3 and “b” is the rhyme affected in the lines 2 and 4.

Roses are red (a)

Violets are blue (b)

Beautiful they all may be (c)

But I love you (b)

The above is an “a-b-c-b” rhyme scheme.

The concept of ‘rhythm and rhyme’ refers to a pattern of rhymes that is created by using words that produce the same, or similar sounds. Rhythm and rhyme together refer to the recurrence of similar sounds in prose and poetry, creating a musical, gentle effect.

“I am a teapot

Short and stout;

This is my handle

And this is my spout.

When the water’s boiling

Hear me shout;

Just lift me up

And pour me out”

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