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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 fable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized (given human qualities), and that illustrates a moral lesson (a "moral"), which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.
A fable differs from a parable in that the latter excludes animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as actors that assume speech and other powers of humankind.
Usage has not always been so clearly distinguished. In the King James Version of the New Testament, "μύθος" ("mythos") was rendered by the translators as "fable" in First and Second Timothy, in Titus and in First Peter.
A fabliau (plural fabliaux) is a comic, often anonymous tale written by jongleurs in northeast France between ca. 1150 and 1400. They are generally bawdy in nature, and several of them were reworked by Giovanni Boccaccio for the Decamerone and by Geoffrey Chaucer for his Canterbury Tales. Some 150 French fabliaux are extant, the number depending on how narrowly fabliau is defined. According to R. Howard Bloch, fabliaux are the first expression of literary realism in Europe.
Fabliaux originally come from the Orient and were brought to the West by returning crusaders; from fabliaux comes the French drama.
* Falling action
During the falling action, or resolution, which is the moment of reversal after the climax, the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist unravels, with the protagonist winning or losing against the antagonist. The falling action might contain a moment of final suspense, during which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt. Summary: The falling action is that part of the story in which the main part (the climax) has finished and you're heading to the conclusion.
Fantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. Many works within the genre take place in fictional worlds where magic is common. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction in that it does not provide a logical (or pseudo logical) explanation for the scientifically impossible events that occur, though there is a great deal of overlap between the two (both are subgenres of speculative fiction).
In popular culture, the genre of fantasy is dominated by its medievalist form, especially since the worldwide success of The Lord of the Rings books by J. R. R. Tolkien. In its broadest sense however, fantasy comprises works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians, from ancient myths and legends to many recent works embraced by a wide audience today.
In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include sexual innuendo and word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases, culminating in an ending which often involves an elaborate chase scene. Farce is also characterized by physical humor, the use of deliberate absurdity or nonsense, and broadly stylized performances. Farces have been written for the stage and film.
Many farces move at a frantic pace toward the climax, in which the initial problem is resolved one way or another, often through a deus ex machina twist of the plot. Generally, there is a happy ending. The convention of poetic justice is not always observed: The protagonist may get away with what he or she has been trying to hide at all costs, even if it is a criminal act.
Feeling is the nominalization of "to feel". The word was first used in the English language to describe the physical sensation of touch through either experience or perception. The word is also used to describe experiences, other than the physical sensation of touch, such as "a feeling of warmth". In psychology, the word is usually reserved for the conscious subjective experience of emotion. Phenomenology and heterophenomenology are philosophical approaches that provide some basis for knowledge of feelings. Many schools of psychotherapy depend on the therapist achieving some kind of understanding of the client's feelings, for which methodologies exist. Some theories of interpersonal relationships also have a role for shared feelings or understanding of another person's feelings.
* Feminine ending
In poetry, metre (British English) or meter (American English) is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse meter, or a certain set of meters alternating in a particular order. The study of metres and forms of versification is known as prosody. (Within linguistics, "prosody" is used in a more general sense that includes not only poetical meter but also the rhythmic aspects of prose, whether formal or informal, which vary from language to language, and sometimes between poetic traditions.)
* Feminine rhyme
A feminine rhyme is a rhyme that matches two or more syllables, usually at the end of respective lines, in which the final syllable or syllables are unstressed.
Fiction is any form of narrative which deals, in part or in whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s). Although fiction often describes a major branch of literary work, it is also applied to theatrical, cinematic, and musical work. In contrast to this is non-fiction, which deals exclusively in factual events (e.g.: biographies, histories).
* Figurative language
Literal and figurative language is a distinction in traditional systems for analyzing language. Literal language refers to words that do not deviate from their defined meaning. Figurative language refers to words, and groups of words, that exaggerate or alter the usual meanings of the component words. Figurative language may involve analogy to similar concepts or other contexts, and may involve exaggerations. These alterations result in figures of speech.
* Figure of speech
A figure of speech is a use of a word diverging from its usual meaning, or a special repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words in it such as a metaphor, simile, hyperbole , or personification. Figures of speech often provide emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from their use, as any figure of speech introduces an ambiguity between literal and figurative interpretation. A figure of speech is sometimes called a rhetoric or a locution.
Not all theories of meaning have a concept of "literal language" (see literal and figurative language). Under theories that do not, figure of speech is not an entirely coherent concept
* Fin de siècle
Fin de siècle (French pronunciation: [fɛ̃ də sjɛkl]) is French for "end of the century". The term sometimes encompasses both the closing and onset of an era, as it was felt to be a period of degeneration, but at the same time a period of hope for a new beginning.
“Fin de siècle” is most commonly associated with French artists, especially the French symbolists, and was affected by the cultural awareness characteristic of France at the end of the 19th century. However, the expression is also used to refer to a European-wide cultural movement. The ideas and concerns of the fin de siècle influenced the decades to follow and played an important role in the birth of modernism
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.
A flashforward (also spelled flash-forward; also called a prolepsis) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story in literature, film, television and other media. Flashforwards are often used to represent events expected, projected, or imagined to occur in the future. They may also reveal significant parts of the story that have not yet occurred, but soon will in greater detail. In the opposite direction, a flashback (or analepsis) reveals events that have occurred in the past.
* Flat character
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative or dramatic work of art (such as a novel, play, or film). Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr (χαρακτήρ), the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of "a part played by an actor" developed. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person." In literature, characters guide readers through their stories, helping them to understand plots and ponder themes. Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practised by actors or writers, has been called characterisation.
* Fleshly school
The Fleshly School is the name given by Robert Buchanan to a realistic school of poets, to which Rossetti, William Morris, and Swinburne belong.
In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight various features of that other character's personality, throwing these characteristics into sharper focus.
A foil's complementary role may be emphasized by physical characteristics. A foil usually differs drastically. For example in Cervantes' Don Quixote, the dreamy and impractical Quixote is thin in contrast to his companion, the realistic and practical Sancho Panza, who is fat. Another popular fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, is tall and lean; his right-hand man Doctor Watson, meanwhile, is often described as "middle-sized, strongly built." The "straight man" in a comedy duo is a comic foil. While the straight man portrays a reasonable and serious character, the other portrays a funny, dumb, or simply unorthodox one.
Folio (abbreviated fo or 2°) is a technical term describing the format of a book, which refers to the size of pages, or leaves, produced from folding a full sheet of paper on which multiple pages of text were printed. A folio is a book or pamphlet made up of one or more full sheets of paper on which four pages of text were printed, which sheets were then folded once to produce two leaves. Each leaf of a folio book thus represents one half the size of the original sheet. Ordinarily, additional printed folio sheets would be inserted inside another to form a group or "gathering" of leaves prior to binding the book. Other common book formats are quartos and octavos. Famous folios include the Gutenberg Bible, printed in about 1455, and the First Folio collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, printed in 1623. Folio also is used as a general description of size of books that are about 15 inches tall, and as such does not necessarily indicate the actual printing format of the books, which may even be unknown as is the case for many modern books.
* Folk drama
Folk plays such as Hoodening, Guising, Mumming and Soul Caking are generally verse sketches performed in countryside pubs in European countries, private houses or the open air, at set times of the year such as the Winter or Summer solstices or Christmas and New Year. Many have long traditions, although they are frequently updated to retain their relevance for modern audiences.
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of that culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics. The word 'folklore' was first used by the English antiquarian William Thoms in a letter published by the London Journal in 1846. In usage, there is a continuum between folklore and mythology. Stith Thompson made a major attempt to index the motifs of both folklore and mythology, providing an outline into which new motifs can be placed, and scholars can keep track of all older motifs.
Folklore can be divided into four areas of study: artifact (such as voodoo dolls), describable and transmissible entity (oral tradition), culture, and behavior (rituals). These areas do not stand alone, however, as often a particular item or element may fit into more than one of these areas.
* Folk tale
Fairy tale is an English language term for a type of short narrative corresponding to the French phrase conte de fée, the Spanish phrase cuento de hadas, the German term Märchen, the Italian fiaba, the Polish baśń or the Swedish saga. Fairy tales typically feature such folkloric characters as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories thus designated explicitly refer to fairies. The stories may nonetheless be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends (which generally involve belief in the veracity of the events described) and explicitly moral tales, including beast fables.
In verse, many meters use a foot as the basic unit in their description of the underlying rhythm of a poem. Both the quantitative meter of classical poetry and the accentual-syllabic meter of most poetry in English use the foot as the fundamental building block. A foot consists of a certain number of syllables forming part of a line of verse. A foot is described by the character and number of syllables it contains: in English, feet are named for the combination of accented and unaccented syllables; in other languages such as Latin and Greek, the duration of the syllable (long or short) is measured.
Foreshadowing is a literary device in which an author suggests certain plot developments that will come later in the story.
A Fourteener, in poetry, is a line consisting of 14 syllables, usually having 7 iambic feet, often used in 16th century English verse. Sometimes it also used to mean a poem of 14 lines,a Quatorzain or the better known sonnet forms.
* Frame story
A frame story (also frame tale, frame narrative, etc.) employs a narrative technique whereby an introductory main story is composed, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage for a fictive narrative or organizing a set of shorter stories, each of which is a story within a story. The frame story leads readers from the first story into the smaller one within it.
* Free verse
Free verse is a form of poetry that refrains from meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern.
Some poets have explained that free verse, despite its freedom, must still display some elements of form. Most free verse, for example, self-evidently continues to observe a convention of the poetic line in some sense, at least in written representations, thus retaining a potential degree of linkage, however nebulous, with more traditional forms. Donald Hall goes as far as to say that "the form of free verse is as binding and as liberating as the form of a rondeau." and T. S. Eliot wrote, "No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job."
* Freytag's pyramid
According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts, or acts, which some refer to as a dramatic arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement.
Although Freytag's analysis of dramatic structure is based on five-act plays, it can be applied (sometimes in a modified manner) to short stories and novels as well. Nonetheless the pyramid is not always easy to use, especially in modern plays such as Alfred Uhry's "Driving Miss Daisy", which is actually divided into 25 scenes without concrete acts.
* Fugitives and Agrarians
The Fugitives were a group of poets and literary scholars who came together at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, around 1920. They published a small literary magazine called The Fugitive from 1922-1925 which showcased their works. Although its published life was brief, The Fugitive is considered to be one of the most influential publications in the history of American letters. The Fugitives made Vanderbilt a fountainhead of the New Criticism, the dominant mode of textual analysis in English during the first half of the twentieth century.
The group was also remarkable for the number of its members whose works would claim a permanent place in the literary canon. Many were also influential teachers of literature. Among the most notable Fugitives were John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Merrill Moore, Donald Davidson, William Ridley Wills, and Robert Penn Warren. In "The Briar Patch", Robert Penn Warren provided a look at the life of an exploited black in urban America. Less closely associated were the critic Cleanth Brooks and the poet Laura Riding.
The Fugitives partly overlapped with a later group, also associated with Vanderbilt, called the Agrarians.
Fustian (also called bombast) is a term for a variety of heavy woven, mostly cotton fabrics, chiefly prepared for menswear. It is also used to refer to pompous, inflated or pretentious writing or speech, from at least the time of Shakespeare. This literary use is because the cloth type was often used as padding, hence, the purposeless words are 'bombast'.
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It was largely an Italian phenomenon, though there were parallel movements in Russia, England and elsewhere. The Futurists practiced in every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture and even gastronomy.
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Published - February 2011
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