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Flashcards in AP Lang Terms Deck (76)
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1

allegory

The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning.

2

alliteration

The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words (as in “she sells sea shells”).

3

allusion

A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art. Allusions can be historical, literary, religious, topical, or mythical.

4

ambiguity

The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.

5

analogy

A similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them. An analogy can explain something unfamiliar by associating it with or pointing out its similarity to something more familiar.

6

antecedent

The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun.

7

antithesis

the opposition or contrast of ideas; the direct opposite.

8

aphorism

A terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral principle. (If the authorship is unknown, the statement is generally considered to be a folk proverb.) An aphorism can be a memorable summation of the author’s point.

9

apostrophe

A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction, such as liberty or love. It is an address to someone or something that cannot answer. The effect may add familiarity or emotional
intensity.

10

atmosphere

The emotional nod created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the
author’s choice of objects that are described.

11

caricature

a verbal description, the purpose of which is to exaggerate or distort, for comic effect, a person’s distinctive physical features or other characteristics.

12

clause

A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb. An independent, or main, clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. A dependent, or subordinate clause, cannot stand alone as a sentence and must be accompanied by an independent clause.

13

colloquial/colloquialism

The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing. Not generally acceptable for formal writing,
colloquialisms give a work a conversational, familiar tone. Colloquial expressions in writing include local or regional dialects.

14

conceit

A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between seemingly dissimilar objects. A conceit displays intellectual cleverness as a result of the unusual comparison being made.

15

connotation

The non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning. Connotations may involve ideas, emotions, or attitudes.

16

denotation

The strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color. (Example: the denotation of a knife would be a utensil used to cut; the connotation of a knife might be fear, violence, anger, foreboding, etc.)

17

diction

Related to style, diction refers to the writer’s word choices, especially with regard to their correctness, clearness, or effectiveness. For the AP exam, you should be able to describe an author’s diction (for example, formal or informal, ornate or plain) and understand the ways in which diction can complement the author’s purpose. Diction, combined with
syntax, figurative language, literary devices, etc., creates an author’s style.

18

didactic

From the Greek, didactic literally means “teaching.” Didactic words have the primary aim of teaching or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.

19

euphemism

From the Greek for “good speech,” euphemisms are a more agreeable or less offensive substitute for a generally unpleasant word or concept. The euphemism may be used to adhere to standards of social or political correctness or to add humor or ironic understatement. Saying “earthly remains” rather than “corpse” is an example of euphemism.

20

extended metaphor

A metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work.

21

figurative language

Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative and
vivid.

22

figure of speech

A device used to produce figurative language. Many compare dissimilar things. Figures of speech include
apostrophe, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, oxymoron, paradox, personification, simile, synecdoche, and understatement.

23

generic conventions

This term describes traditions for each genre. These conventions help to define each genre; for example,
they differentiate an essay and journalistic writing or an autobiography and political writing. On the AP language exam, try to distinguish the unique features of a writer’s work from those dictated by convention.

24

genre

The major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry, and drama. However, genre is a flexible term; within these broad boundaries exist many subdivisions that are often called genres themselves.

25

homily

This term literally means “sermon,” but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice.

26

hyperbole

A figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. (The literal Greek meaning is “overshoot.”) Hyperboles often have a comic effect; however, a serious effect is also possible. Often, hyperbole produces irony. The opposite of hyperbole is understatement.

27

imagery

The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion, or represent abstractions. On a physical level, imagery uses terms related to the five senses: visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory. On a broader and deeper level, however, one image can represent more than one thing.

28

inference/infer

To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented. When a multiple choice question asks for an inference to be drawn from a passage, the most direct, most reasonable inference is the safest answer choice. If an inference is implausible, it’s unlikely to be the correct answer. Note that if the answer choice is directly stated, it is not inferred and it is wrong. You must be careful to note the connotation – negative or positive – of the choices.

29

invective

an emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.

30

irony/ironic

The contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant, or the difference between what appears to be and what is actually true. Irony is often used to create poignancy or humor.