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Literary Terms Glossary
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The following is a list of literary terms; that is, those words used in discussion, classification, criticism, and analysis of poetry, novels and picture books.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

* Abecedarius

An abecedarius is an acrostic in which the first letter of every word, strophe or verse follows the order of the alphabet. Abecedarius is also a generic term for an alphabet book, which dates back to Biblical writings such as the Psalms, which used successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet as the first letter of each stanza.

* Academic drama

Academic drama, also called school drama, is a dramatic tradition which arose from the Renaissance, in which the works of Plautus, Terence, and other ancient dramatists were performed in schools and colleges. At first, these dramas were performed in Latin, but later also in vernacular adaptations composed by schoolmasters under the influence of humanism. This tradition produced the earliest English comedies, notably Ralph Roister Doister (c. 1552) by the schoolmaster Nicholas Udall.

* Acatalectic

An acatalectic line of verse is one having the metrically complete number of syllables in the final foot. When talking about poetry written in English the term is arguably of limited significance or utility, at least by comparison to its antonym, catalectic, for the simple reason that acatalexis is considered to be the "usual case" in the large majority of metrical contexts and therefore explicit reference to it proves almost universally superfluous.

* Accent

In poetry, accent refers to the stressed syllable of a polysyllabic word, or a monosyllabic word that receives stress because it belongs to an "open class" of words (noun, verb, adjective, adverb) or because of "contrastive" or "rhetorical" stress. In basic analysis of a poem by scansion, accents are represented with a slash ("/"). There is generally one accent in each foot of a line, unless the foot is a spondee (//). The mark for an unstressed syllable is sometimes "U", but sometimes "x".In poetry people mix words.

* Accentual verse

Accentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per line or stanza regardless of the number of syllables that are present. It is common in languages that are stress-timed, such as English—as opposed to syllabic verse, which is common in syllable-timed languages, such as French.

Nursery Rhymes are the most common form of Accentual verse in the English Language. The following poem, Baa Baa Black Sheep, has two stresses in each line, but a varying number of syllables.

* Acrostic

An acrostic (Greek: ákros "top"; stíchos "verse") is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message. As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. A famous acrostic was made in Greek for the acclamation JESUS CHRIST, GOD'S SON, SAVIOUR (Greek: Ιησούς Χριστός, Θεού Υιός, Σωτήρ; Iesous CHristos, THeou Yios, Soter — ch and th being each one letter in Greek). The initials spell ICHTHYS (ΙΧΘΥΣ), Greek for fish – hence the frequent use of the fish as a symbol for Jesus Christ from the early days of Christianity to the present time.

* Aisling

The aisling (Irish for 'dream, vision', pronounced [ˈaʃlʲɪŋʲ]), or vision poem, is a poetic genre that developed during the late 17th and 18th centuries in Irish language poetry. The word may have a number of variations in pronunciation, however, in the Irish language the first syllable always includes a [ʃ] ("sh") sound.

* Allegory

Allegory is a figurative mode of representation conveying meaning other than the literal. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation. Allegory is generally treated as a figure of rhetoric, but an allegory does not have to be expressed in language: it may be addressed to the eye, and is often found in realistic painting, sculpture or some other form of mimetic, or representative art. Simply put, an allegory is a device used to present an idea, principle or meaning, which can be presented in literary form, such as a poem or novel, or in visual form, such as in painting or sculpture. As a literary device, an allegory in its most general sense is an extended metaphor. As an artistic device, an allegory is a visual symbolic representation. An example of a simple visual allegory is the image of the grim reaper. Viewers understand that the image of the grim reaper is a symbolic representation of death. Nevertheless, images and fictions with several possible interpretations are not allegories in the true sense. Furthermore, not every fiction with general application is an allegory.

* Alliteration

In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of a series of words and/or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to the poem's meter, are stressed, as in James Thomson's verse "Come…dragging the lazy languid Line along".

* Allusion

An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either directly or by implication. M. H. Abrams defined allusion as "a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage". It is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection (Fowler); where the connection is detailed in depth by the author, it is preferable to call it "a reference".

In a freer informal definition, allusion is a passing or casual reference, an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication: In the stock market he met his Waterloo.

* Anachronism

An anachronism—from the Greek ανά (ana: up, against, back, re-) and χρόνος (chronos: time)—is an accidental or deliberate inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other. The item is often an object, but may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a custom, or anything else so closely associated with a particular period in time that it would be incorrect to place it outside its proper domain. A representation of something as existing or occurring at other than its proper time in history.

* Anacrusis

In poetry, anacrusis (Ancient Greek: ἀνάκρουσις "pushing back") is the lead-in syllables, collectively, that precede the first full measure.

In music, it is the note or sequence of notes which precedes the first downbeat in a bar. In the latter sense an anacrusis is often called a pickup, pickup note, or pickup measure, referring to the syncopation. A piece of music beginning with an anacrusis will often end before the last beat of the last bar, in order to keep the number of bars in the entire piece at a whole number.

In the song "Happy Birthday to You", the anacrusis forms the Happy and the accent is on Birthday.

* Anadiplosis

Anadiplosis (pronounced /ænədɨˈploʊsɨs/, AN-ə-di-PLOH-sis; from the Greek: ἀναδίπλωσις, anadíplōsis, "a doubling, folding up") is the repetition of the last word of a preceding clause. The word is used at the end of a sentence and then used again at the beginning of the next sentence.

* Anagnorisis

Anagnorisis (pronounced /ˌænəɡˈnɒrɨsɨs/; Ancient Greek: ἀναγνώρισις) is a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery. Anagnorisis originally meant recognition in its Greek context, not only of a person but also of what that person stood for. It was the hero's sudden awareness of a real situation, the realisation of things as they stood, and finally, the hero's insight into a relationship with an often antagonistic character in Aristotelian tragedy.

* Analects

Lunyu (English: Analects) (simplified Chinese: 论语; traditional Chinese: 論語; pinyin: Lún Yǔ), also known as the Analects of Confucius, are considered a record of the words and acts of the central Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius and his disciples, as well as the discussions they held.

Written during the Spring and Autumn Period through the Warring States Period (ca. 475 BCE - 221 BCE), the Analects is the representative work of Confucianism and continues to have a tremendous influence on Chinese and East Asian thought and values today.

* Analepsis

Flashback (also called analepsis, plural analepses) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory. Character origin flashbacks specifically refers to flashbacks dealing with key events early in a character's development. In the opposite direction, a flashforward (or prolepsis) reveals events that will occur in the future. The technique is used to create suspense in a story, or develop a character. In literature, internal analepsis is a flashback to an earlier point in the narrative; external analepsis is a flashback to before the narrative started.

In movies and television, several camera techniques and special effects have evolved to alert the viewer that the action shown is from the past; for example, the edges of the picture may be deliberately blurred, photography may be jarring or choppy, or unusual coloration or sepia tone, or monochrome when most of the story is in full color, may be used.

* Analogue

The term analogue is used in literary history in two related senses:

- a work which resembles another in terms of one or more motifs, characters, scenes, phrases or events.
- an individual motif, character, scene, event or phrase which resembles one found in another work.

Similarities may be fortuitous, in which case the merit of establishing an analogue is that it makes it possible to see how works from different authors (perhaps also in different languages, periods, genres) treat similar characters or motifs. But the term is used particularly in the study of legends, folk tales and oral literature for works that have features in common either because they derive from a shared tradition or because they both rework material from a specific older text, which may or may not still survive.

* Analogy

in Rhetoric

- An analogy can be a spoken or textual comparison between two words (or sets of words) to highlight some form of semantic similarity between them. Such analogies can be used to strengthen political and philosophical arguments, even when the semantic similarity is weak or non-existent (if crafted carefully for the audience). Analogies are sometimes used to persuade those that cannot detect the flawed or non-existent arguments.

in Linguistics

- An analogy can be the linguistic process that reduces word forms perceived as irregular by remaking them in the shape of more common forms that are governed by rules. For example, the English verb help once had the preterite holp and the past participle holpen. These obsolete forms have been discarded and replaced by helped by the power of analogy (or by widened application of the productive Verb-ed rule.) This is called leveling. However, irregular forms can sometimes be created by analogy; one example is the American English past tense form of dive: dove, formed on analogy with words such as drive: drove.
- Neologisms can also be formed by analogy with existing words. A good example is software, formed by analogy with hardware; other analogous neologisms such as firmware and vaporware have followed. Another example is the humorous term underwhelm, formed by analogy with overwhelm.
- Analogy is often presented as an alternative mechanism to generative rules for explaining productive formation of structures such as words. Others argue that in fact they are the same mechanism, that rules are analogies that have become entrenched as standard parts of the linguistic system, whereas clearer cases of analogy have simply not (yet) done so (e.g. Langacker 1987.445–447).

* Anapest

An anapaest (also spelled anapæst or anapest, also called antidactylus) is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. In classical quantitative meters it consists of two short syllables followed by a long one; in accentual stress meters it consists of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable. It may be seen as a reversed dactyl. This word comes from the Greek ανάπαιστος, anápaistos, literally "struck back" (a dactyl reversed), from 'ana-' + '-paistos', verbal of παίειν, paíein: to strike.

Because of its length and the fact that it ends with a stressed syllable and so allows for strong rhymes, anapaest can produce a very rolling, galloping feeling verse, and allows for long lines with a great deal of internal complexity.

* Anaphora

In rhetoric, an anaphora (Greek: ἀναφορά, "carrying back") is a rhetorical device that consists of repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of neighboring clauses, thereby lending them emphasis. In contrast, an epistrophe (or epiphora) is repeating words at the clauses' ends. Anaphora is contrasted with cataphora. See also other figures of speech involving repetition.

One author well-known for his use of anaphora is Charles Dickens (seen in quote below). Some of his best-known works constantly portray their themes through use of this literary tool.

* Anastrophe

Anastrophe (from the Greek: ἀναστροφή, anastrophē, "a turning back or about") is a figure of speech involving an inversion of a language's ordinary order of words; for example, saying "smart you are" to mean "you are smart". In English, with its settled natural word order, departure from the expected word order emphasizes the displaced word or phrase: "beautiful" is emphasized in the City Beautiful urbanist movement; "primeval" comes to the fore in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's line "This is the forest primeval" (from Evangeline). Where the emphasis that comes from anastrophe is not an issue, "inversion" is a perfectly suitable synonym.

Yoda from the Star Wars series commonly uses anastrophe.

* Anecdote

An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place. However, over time, modification in reuse may convert a particular anecdote to a fictional piece, one that is retold but is "too good to be true". Sometimes humorous, anecdotes are not jokes, because their primary purpose is not simply to evoke laughter, but to reveal a truth more general than the brief tale itself, or to delineate a character trait in such a light that it strikes in a flash of insight to its very essence. Novalis observed "Eine Anekdote ist eines historisches Element — ein historisches Molekül oder Epigramm". A brief monologue beginning "A man pops in a bar..." will be a joke. A brief monologue beginning "Once J. Edgar Hoover popped in a bar..." will be an anecdote. An anecdote thus is closer to the tradition of the parable than the patently invented fable with its animal characters and generic human figures— but it is distinct from the parable in the historical specificity which it claims.

The word anecdote (in Greek: "unpublished", literally "not given out") comes from Procopius of Caesarea, the biographer of Justinian I, who produced a work entitled Ἀνέκδοτα (Anekdota, variously translated as Unpublished Memoirs or Secret History), which is primarily a collection of short incidents from the private life of the Byzantine court. Gradually, the term anecdote came to be applied to any short tale utilized to emphasize or illustrate whatever point the author wished to make.

* Annal

Annals (Latin annālis, yearly from annus, a year) are a concise form of historical representation which record events chronologically, year by year. The Oxford English Dictionary defines annals as "a narrative of events written year by year". In The Content of Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation, Hayden White discusses annals in contrast to chronicles and history, two other forms of historical representation. He claims that annals lack a "social center". A social center locate the list of events in time to a point of view, which would implies the moral importance of the events. In constrast to the chronicle, annals do not organize events by topics, such as the reigns of kings. Unlike history, the annal does not conclude and tie up all the loose ends, but simply terminates. The annalist leaves the recorded events unexplained and often one event has as equal weight as another. Furthermore, annalists represent events as happening to humankind, rather than human beings causing events.

* Annotation

An annotation is a note that is made while reading information in a book, document, online record, video, software code or other information, "in the margin". This can be as simple as underlined or highlighted passages. Annotated bibliographies, give descriptions about how each source is useful to an author in constructing a paper or argument. Creating these comments, usually a few sentences long, establishes a summary for and expresses the relevance of each source prior to writing.

* Antagonist

An antagonist (from Greek ἀνταγωνιστής - antagonistes, "opponent, competitor, rival") is a character, group of characters, or an institution, that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, 'A person, or a group of people who oppose the main character, or the main characters.' In the classic style of story where in the action consists of a hero fighting a villain, the two can be regarded as protagonist and antagonist, respectively. The antagonist may also represent a major threat or obstacle to the main character by their very existence, without necessarily actively targeting him or her.

* Antanaclasis

In rhetoric, antanaclasis (pronounced /æntəˈnækləsɨs/ ant-ə-NAK-lə-sis or /ˌæntænəˈklæsɨs/ ANT-an-ə-KLAS-iss; from the Greek: ἀντανάκλασις, antanáklasis, meaning "reflection") is the stylistic trope of repeating a single word, but with a different meaning each time. Antanaclasis is a common type of pun, and like other kinds of pun, it is often found in slogans.

* Antepenult

In linguistics, the ultima is the last syllable of a word, the penult is the next-to-last, and the antepenult is the third-from-last. In a word of three syllables, the names of the syllables are antepenult-penult-ultima.

* Anthology

An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts. In genre fiction anthology is used to categorize collections of shorter works such as short stories and short novels, usually collected into a single volume for publication.

The word derives from the Greek word ἀνθολογία (anthologia; literally “flower-gathering”) for garland — or bouquet of flowers — which was the title of the earliest surviving anthology, assembled by Meleager of Gadara. Meleager's Garland became the seed that grew into the Greek Anthology. The term miscellany is also used, but was more common in the past. In medieval Europe the term florilegium, again meaning a collection of flowers, was used for an anthology of Latin proverbs and textual excerpts.

* Anticlimax

An anti-climax is where something which would appear to be difficult to solve in a plot is solved through something trivial. For example, destroying a heavily guarded facility would require advanced technology, teamwork and weaponry for a climax, but in an anti-climax, it may just consist of pushing a red button which says "Emergency Self-Destruct", or even more so, simply filling out an eviction notice and destroying the building. Another example could involve the protagonist faced with insurmountable odds and ultimately being killed without accomplishing their goal.

* Anti-hero

In fiction, an antihero (sometimes antiheroine as feminine) is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character is at least in some regards conspicuously contrary to that of the archetypal hero, and is in some instances its antithesis. Some consider the word's meaning to be sufficiently broad as to additionally encompass the antagonist who (in contrast to the archetypal villain) elicits considerable sympathy or admiration. The term dates to 1714, although literary criticism identifies the term in earlier literature.

* Anti-masque

An anti-masque (also spelled antimasque) is a comic or grotesque dance presented before or between the acts of a masque, a type of dramatic composition. The anti-masque is a spectacle of disorder which usually starts or precedes the masque itself. It is characterized by impropriety and is transformed by the masque into goodness, propriety, and order, typically by the King's presence alone.

* Anti-romance

An anti-romance, sometimes referred to as a satire, is a type of story characterized by having an apathetic or self-doubting anti-hero cast as the protagonist, who fails in the object of his journey or struggle. Most anti-romances take place in urban settings, and frequently feature insanity, depression, and the meaning of reality as major themes. An anti-romance is the antithesis of a romance.

* Antimetabole

In rhetoric, antimetabole (pronounced /æntɨməˈtæbəliː/ AN-ti-mə-TAB-ə-lee) is the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed grammatical order (e.g., "I know what I like, and I like what I know"). It is similar to chiasmus although chiasmus does not use repetition of the same words or phrases.

* Antinovel

An antinovel is any experimental work of fiction that avoids the familiar conventions of the novel. The term was coined by the French philosopher and critic Jean-Paul Sartre.

The antinovel usually fragments and distorts the experience of its characters, forcing the reader to construct the reality of the story from a disordered narrative.

* Antistrophe

Epistrophe (Greek: ἐπιστροφή, "return"), also known as epiphora (and occasionally as antistrophe), is a figure of speech and the counterpart of anaphora. It is the repetition of the same word or words at the end of successive phrases, clauses or sentences. It is an extremely emphatic device because of the emphasis placed on the last word in a phrase or sentence.

* Antithesis

Antithesis (Greek for "setting opposite", from ἀντί "against" + θέσις "position") is a counter-proposition and denotes a direct contrast to the original proposition. In setting the opposite, an individual brings out a contrast in the meaning (e.g., the definition, interpretation, or semantics) by an obvious contrast in the expression.

* Antonym

In lexical semantics, opposites are words that lie in an inherently incompatible binary relationship as in the opposite pairs male : female, long : short, up : down, and precede : follow. The notion of incompatibility here refers to the fact that one word in an opposite pair entails that it is not the other pair member. For example, something that is long entails that it is not short. It is referred to as a 'binary' relationship because there are two members in a set of opposites. The relationship between opposites is known as opposition. A member of a pair of opposites can generally be determined by the question What is the opposite of X ?

The term antonym (and the related antonymy) has also been commonly used as a term that is synonymous with opposite; however, the term also has other more restricted meanings. One usage has antonym referring to both gradable opposites, such as long : short, and (non-gradable) complementary opposites, such as male : female, while opposites of the types up : down and precede : follow are excluded from the definition.

* Aphorism

An aphorism (literally "distinction" or "definition", from the Greek: ἀφορισμός, aphorismós, from ἀπό + ὁρίζειν, apo + horizein, "from/to bound") is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form. The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, one of the earliest collections. Hippocrates includes such often invoked phrases as, "Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience misleading, judgment difficult." The term was applied later to other sententious statements of physical science, and later still to statements of all kinds of philosophical, moral, or literary principles.

* Apocope

In phonology, apocope (pronounced /əˈpɒkəpiː/, from the Greek apokoptein "cutting off", from apo- "away from" and koptein "to cut") is the loss of one or more sounds from the end of a word, and especially the loss of an unstressed vowel.

* Apocrypha

In the context of fiction, apocrypha includes those fictional stories that do not belong within a fictional universe's canon, yet still have some authority relating to that fictional universe. The boundaries between canon and apocrypha can often be blurred.

The word "Apocrypha" is sometimes used to describe works set in a fictional universe that may not belong in the canon.

These may include tie-in merchandise such as video games, novels and comics, which are sometimes termed 'Expanded Universes'.

* Apollonian and Dionysian

The Apollonian and Dionysian is a philosophical and literary concept, or dichotomy, based on certain features of ancient Greek mythology. Several Western philosophical and literary figures have invoked this dichotomy in critical and creative works, including Plutarch, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Jung, Franz Kafka, Robert A. Heinlein, Ruth Benedict, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, singers Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop, literary critic G. Wilson Knight, Ayn Rand, Stephen King, Michael Pollan, Diane Wakoski, Umberto Eco and cultural critic Camille Paglia.

* Apologue

An apologue (from the Greek "απολογος," a "statement" or "account") is a brief fable or allegorical story with pointed or exaggerated details, meant to serve as a pleasant vehicle for a moral doctrine or to convey a useful lesson without stating it explicitly. Unlike a fable, the moral is more important than the narrative details. As with the parable, the apologue is a tool of rhetorical argument used to convince or persuade.

* Apology

Apologetics (from Greek απολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (usually religious) through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers (c. 120-220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists.

* Apothegm

An adage (pronounced /ˈædɨdʒ/), or adagium (Latin), is a short but memorable saying which holds some important fact of experience that is considered true by many people, or that has gained some credibility through its long use. It often involves a planning failure such as "don't count your chickens before they hatch" or "don't burn bridges behind you." Adages may be interesting observations, practical or ethical guidelines, or sceptical comments on life.

* Aposiopesis

Aposiopesis (pronounced /ˌæpəsaɪ.əˈpiːsɪs/ from Classical Greek, ἀποσιώπησις, "becoming silent") is a rhetorical device wherein a sentence is deliberately broken off and left unfinished, the ending to be supplied by the imagination, giving an impression of unwillingness or inability to continue. An example would be the threat "Get out, or else—!" This device often portrays its users as overcome with passion (fear, anger, excitement) or modesty. To mark the occurrence of aposiopesis with punctuation an em dash or an ellipsis may be used.

* Apostrophe

Apostrophe (Greek ἀποστροφή, apostrophé, "turning away"; the final e being sounded) is an exclamatory rhetorical figure of speech, when a speaker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an imaginary person or abstract quality or idea. In dramatic works and poetry written in or translated into English, such a figure of speech is often introduced by the exclamation "O".

It is related to personification, although in apostrophe, objects or abstractions are implied to have certain human qualities (such as understanding) by the very fact that the speaker is addressing them as he would a person in his presence.

* Apron stage

The apron is any part of the stage that extends past the proscenium arch and into the audience or seating area. The Elizabethan stage, which was a raised platform with the audience on three sides, is the outstanding example.

Most stages edges are curved slightly outward providing a very small apron. Some have a large playing space protruding into the audience and in turn a very large apron.

* Arcadia

Arcadia (Greek: Ἀρκαδία) refers to a vision of pastoralism and harmony with nature. The term is derived from the Greek province of the same name which dates to antiquity; the province's mountainous topography and sparse population of pastoralists later caused the word Arcadia to develop into a poetic byword for an idyllic vision of unspoiled wilderness. Arcadia is associated with bountiful natural splendor, harmony, and is often inhabited by shepherds. The concept also figures in Renaissance mythology. Commonly thought of as being in line with Utopian ideals, Arcadia differs from that tradition in that it is more often specifically regarded as unattainable. Furthermore, it is seen as a lost, Edenic form of life, contrasting to the progressive nature of Utopian desires.

* Archaism

In language, an archaism (from the Greek: ἀρχαϊκός, archaïkós, 'old-fashioned, antiquated', ultimately ἀρχαῖος, archaîos, 'from the beginning, ancient') is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately (to achieve a specific effect) or as part of a specific jargon (for example in law) or formula (for example in religious contexts). Many nursery rhymes contain archaisms. Archaic elements that occur only in certain fixed expressions (for example 'be that as it may') are not considered to be archaisms.

* Archetype

An archetype (pronounced /ˈɑrkɪtaɪp/) is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior.

In philosophy, archetypes since Plato at least, refer to ideal forms of the perceived or sensible things or types.

* Aristeia

An aristeia or aristia (Ancient Greek: ἀριστεία, IPA: [aristéːa], "excellence"; English: /ærɨˈstiː.ə/) is a scene in the dramatic conventions of such works as the Iliad in which a hero in battle has his finest moments (aristos = best). It is usually associated with men but can be expanded also to encompass women (as in the case of Andromache). In the latter case the aristeia is of a different sort, grief. Such is the high quality of the hero's offensive, an Aristeia scene usually results in the death of all those standing in his way.

* Argument

In logic, an argument is a set of one or more meaningful declarative sentences (or "propositions") known as the premises along with another meaningful declarative sentence (or "proposition") known as the conclusion. A deductive argument asserts that the truth of the conclusion is a logical consequence of the premises; an inductive argument asserts that the truth of the conclusion is supported by the premises. Deductive arguments are valid or invalid, and sound or not sound. An argument is valid if and only if the truth of the conclusion is a logical consequence of the premises and (consequently) its corresponding conditional is a necessary truth. A sound argument is a valid argument with true premises.

* Arsis

In music and prosody, arsis and thesis refer to the stronger and weaker parts of a musical measure or poetic foot. Arsis and thesis were the raising and lowering of the foot in beating of time, or the raising and lowering of the voice in pitch or stress. Accordingly, in music and in Greek scansion arsis is an unaccented note (upbeat), but in Latin and modern poetry it is the stressed syllable (ictus).

* Art for art's sake

"Art for art's sake" is the usual English rendering of a French slogan, from the early 19th century, ''l'art pour l'art'', and expresses a philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only "true" art, is divorced from any didactic, moral or utilitarian function. Such works are sometimes described as "autotelic", from the Greek autoteles, “complete in itself”, a concept that has been expanded to embrace "inner-directed" or "self-motivated" human beings.

* Asemic writing

Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content". With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. All of this is similar to the way one would deduce meaning from an abstract work of art. The open nature of asemic works allows for meaning to occur trans-linguistically; an asemic text may be "read" in a similar fashion regardless of the reader's natural language. Multiple meanings for the same symbolism are another possibility for an asemic work.

* Aside

An aside is a dramatic device in which a character speaks to the audience. By convention the audience is to realize that the character's speech is unheard by the other characters on stage. It may be addressed to the audience expressly (in character or out) or represent an unspoken thought. An aside is usually a brief comment, rather than a speech, such as a monologue or soliloquy. Unlike a public announcement, it occurs within the context of the play.

* Assonance

Assonance is the refrain of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the /u:/ ("o"/"ou"/"ue" sound) is repeated within the sentence and is assonant.

Assonance is found more often in verse than in prose. It is used in (mainly modern) English-language poetry, and is particularly important in Old French, Spanish and Celtic languages.

* Attitude

An attitude is a hypothetical construct that represents an individual's degree of like or dislike for an item. Attitudes are generally positive or negative views of a person, place, thing, or event—this is often referred to as the attitude object. People can also be conflicted or ambivalent toward an object, meaning that they simultaneously possess both positive and negative attitudes toward the item in question.

* Aube (Aubade)

An aubade is a poem or song of or about lovers separating at dawn.

Aubade has also been defined as "a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak".

In the strictest sense of the term, an aubade is a song from a door or window to a sleeping woman. Aubades are generally conflated with what are strictly called albas, which are exemplified by a dialogue between parting lovers, a refrain with the word alba, and a watchman warning the lovers of the approaching dawn.

Aubades were in the repertory of troubadours in Europe in the Middle Ages. An early English example is in Book III of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. The love poetry of the 16th century dealt mostly with unsatisfied love, so the aubade was not a major genre in Elizabethan lyric.

* Audience

An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature (in which they are called the "reader"), theatre, music or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception.

Media audiences are studied by academics in media audience studies. Audience theory offers scholarly insight into audiences in general. These insights shape our knowledge of just how audiences affect and are affected by different forms of art.

* Autobiography

An autobiography (from the Greek, αὐτός-autos self + βίος-bios life + γράφειν-graphein to write) is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.

* Autotelic

Autotelic is defined by one "having a purpose in and not apart from itself". It is a broad term that can be applied to missionaries, scientists, and innumerable other vocations.

Autotelic is used to describe people who are internally driven, and as such may exhibit a sense of purpose and curiosity. This determination is an exclusive difference from being externally driven, where things such as comfort, money, power, or fame are the motivating force.

* Avant-garde

Avant-garde (French pronunciation: [avɑ̃ɡaʁd]) means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English, to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.

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Published - February 2011

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