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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

* Hagiography - Hagiology

Hagiography is the study of saints. A hagiography, from the Greek (h)ağios (ἅγιος, "holy" or "saint") and graphē (γραφή, "writing"), refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of ecclesiastical and secular leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common. (This, in fact, follows original Greek practice, where ἁγιογραφία refers to visual images of the saints, while their written lives (βίοι or vitæ) or the study thereof are known as ἁγιολογία.)

Christian hagiographies focus on the lives, and notably the miracles of men and women canonized by the Roman Catholic church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church . Other religions such as Buddhism and Islam also create and maintain hagiographical texts concerning saints and other individuals believed to be imbued with the sacred.

The term "hagiographic" has also been used as a pejorative reference to the works of biographers and historians perceived to be uncritical or "reverential" to their subject.

* Haikai

Haikai (Japanese 俳諧 comic, unorthodox) from a specific perspective, is short for haikai no renga. It was a popular style of Japanese linked verse originating in the sixteenth century. As opposed to the aristocratic renga, haikai was known as the "low style" linked verse intended for the commoner, the traveler, and those who lived a more frugal lifestyle. It embodies an essence of inspiration received through physical senses; linked poetry that values the genuineness of expression of feelings according to the nature of the mind. This poetic form allowed one to express oneself without regard to traditional poetic conventions of diction which regulated the "serious" poetry of earlier periods. It required genuineness in perception, sincerity, and objectivity. A modern-day equivalent, similar to haikai, is renku (haikai no renga). Like renku, haikai was usually written by two or more participants in a communal setting; it was an art form that could not be pursued in the absence of a social context. Two of the most important features in haikai were linking and shifting with a focus on moving forward. The concept of moving forward is stanza by stanza, concentrating on human experience: landscapes, animals, plant life and other subject matter.

From a general perspective, haikai is a poetry genre that includes a number of forms which embrace the aesthetics of haikai no renga. These forms were what Bashō referred to as the "poetic spirit" (fūga), including haiku, renku, haibun, haiga and senryū (though not orthodox renga, tanka or waka). Bashō also defined the "poetic spirit" as a spirit which seeks beauty in nature, which tries to escape the collisions of everyday life.

In the first half of the twentieth century the word "haikai" was used in French and Spanish for what is now called "haiku" worldwide. In addition, "haikai" is sometimes used as an abbreviation for "haikai no renga".

Note that the starting verse of a haikai is what evolved into the 'haiku' as we know it, with its emphasis on the here and now.

* Haikai no renga - Renku

Renku (連句, "linked verses"), the Japanese form of popular collaborative linked verse poetry formerly known as haikai no renga (俳諧の連歌), is an offshoot of the older Japanese poetic tradition of ushin renga, or orthodox collaborative linked verse. At renga gatherings participating poets would take turns providing alternating verses of 17 syllables and 14 syllables. Initially haikai no renga distinguished itself through vulgarity and coarseness of wit, before growing into a legitimate artistic tradition, and eventually giving birth to the haiku form of Japanese poetry.

* Haiku

Haiku (俳句 haikai verse?) listen (help·info), plural haiku, is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 moras (or on), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively. Although haiku are often stated to have 17 syllables, this is inaccurate as syllables and moras are not the same. Haiku typically contain a kigo (seasonal reference), and a kireji (cutting word). In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line and tend to take aspects of the natural world as their subject matter, while haiku in English often appear in three lines to parallel the three phrases of Japanese haiku and may deal with any subject matter. Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.

* Half rhyme

Half rhyme or slant rhyme, sometimes called sprung, near rhyme, oblique rhyme, off rhyme or imperfect rhyme, is consonance on the final consonants of the words involved. Many half/slant rhymes are also eye rhymes. Half/slant rhymes are widely used in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Icelandic verse. An example is ill and shell. Half/slant rhyme has been found in English-language poetry as early as Henry Vaughan, but it was not until the works of W. B. Yeats and Gerard Manley Hopkins that it found wide use among English-language poets. In the 20th century half/slant rhyme has been used widely by English poets. Often, as in most of Yeats's poems, it is mixed with other devices such as regular rhymes, assonance, and para-rhymes. In the following example the 'rhymes' are on/moon and bodies/ladies:

When have I last looked on
The round green eyes and the long wavering bodies
Of the dark leopards of the moon?
All the wild witches, those most noble ladies,
(Yeats, "Lines written in Dejection")

American poet Emily Dickinson also used half/slant rhyme frequently in her works. In her poem "Hope is the thing with feathers" the half/slant rhyme appears in the second and fourth lines. In the following example the 'rhyme' is soul/all.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.

* Hamartia

Hamartia (Ancient Greek: ἁμαρτία) is a term developed by Aristotle in his work Poetics. The term can simply be seen as a character’s flaw or error. In Greek dramaturgy, hamartia is the tragic flaw of the protagonist in a given tragedy. The word hamartia is rooted in the notion of missing the mark (hamartanein) and covers a broad spectrum that includes accident and mistake, as well as wrongdoing, error, or sin. In Nicomachean Ethics, hamartia is described by Aristotle as one of the three kinds of injuries that a person can commit against another person. Hamartia is an injury committed in ignorance (when the person affected or the results are not what the agent supposed they were).

This form of drawing emotion from the audience is a staple of the Greek tragedies. In Greek tragedy, stories that contain a character with a hamartia often follow a similar blueprint. The hamartia, as stated, is seen as an error in judgment or unwitting mistake is applied to the actions of the hero. For example, the hero might attempt to achieve a certain objective X; by making an error in judgment, however, the hero instead achieves the opposite of X, with disastrous consequences.

However, hamartia cannot be sharply defined or have an exact meaning assigned to it. Consequently, a number of alternate interpretations have been associated with it, such as in the Bible hamartia is the Greek word used to denote "sin." Bible translators may reach this conclusion, according to T. C. W. Stinton, because another common interpretation of hamartia can be seen as a “moral deficit” or a “moral error” (Stinton 221). R. D. Dawe disagrees with Stinton’s view when he points out in some cases hamartia can even mean to not sin (Dawe 91). It can be seen in this opposing context if the main character does not carry out an action because it is a sin. This failure to act, in turn, must lead to a poor change in fortune for the main character in order for it to truly be a hamartia.

In a medical context, a hamartia denotes a focal malformation consisting of disorganized arrangement of tissue types that are normally present in the anatomical area.

* Handwaving

The term handwaving is an informal term that describes either the debate technique of failing to rigorously address an argument in an attempt to bypass the argument altogether, or a deliberate gesture and admission that one is intentionally glossing over detail for the sake of time or clarity. It can be meant as an accusation or in a more positive light, depending on the context. It is also used in other situations, as for instance, "The Council has merely handwaved a solution to the traffic dangers at this intersection", meaning a claim of solution without actuality. In this sense, the solution has been achieved by public relations manipulations.

* Headless line - Acephalous line

An acephalous or headless line is a line in a poem which does not conform to its accepted metre, due to the first syllable's omission. Acephalous lines are usually deliberate variations in scansion, but this is not always obvious. Famous poems to use such a technique include A.E. Housman's To an Athlete Dying Young. Robert Wallace argues in his Meter in English that the term acephalous line seems "pejorative", as if criticising the poet's violation of scansion, but this view is not widely held among critics.

* Head rhyme - Lewis Turco

Lewis P. Turco (born May 2, 1934), is an American poet, teacher, and writer of fiction and non-fiction. Turco is an advocate for Formalist poetry (or New Formalism) in the United States.

* Hebraism

Hebraism is the identification of a usage, trait, or characteristic of the Hebrew language. By successive extension it is sometimes applied to the Jewish people, their faith, national ideology, or culture.

There exist in the Hebrew language numerous idiomatic terms that don't translate easily to more widely used languages. To the extent those broader cultures rely for cultural meaning on Hebrew-language-based scriptures, those idioms sometimes prove puzzling.

Writer David Bivin gives examples of some difficult Hebrew idioms: "be'arba enayim, literally 'with four eyes,' means face to face without the presence of a third person, as in, 'The two men met with four eyes.' [The term] lo dubim ve lo ya'ar is literally '[There are] neither bears nor forest,' but means that something is completely false. And taman et yado batsalahat, 'buried his hand in the dish,' means that someone idles away his time."

* The Hedgehog and the Fox

"The Hedgehog and the Fox" is an essay by the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin. It was one of Berlin's most popular essays with the general public. Berlin himself said of the essay: "I never meant it very seriously. I meant it as a kind of enjoyable intellectual game, but it was taken seriously. Every classification throws light on something."

The title is a reference to a fragment attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: πόλλ' οἶδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ' ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα ("the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing"). In Erasmus Rotterdamus's Adagia from 1500, the expression is recorded as Multa novit vulpes, verum echinus unum magnum.)

* Hemistich

A hemistich is a half-line of verse, followed and preceded by a caesura, that makes up a single overall prosodic or verse unit. In Classical poetry, the hemistich is generally confined to drama. In Greek tragedy, characters exchanging clipped dialogue to suggest rapidity and drama would speak in hemistichs (in hemistichomythia). The Roman poet Virgil employed hemistichs in the Aeneid to indicate great duress in his characters, where they were incapable of forming complete lines due to emotional or physical pain.

In neo-classicism, the hemistich was frowned upon (e.g. by John Dryden), but Germanic poetry employed the hemistich as a basic component of verse. In Old English and Old Norse poetry, each line of alliterative verse was divided into an "a-verse" and "b-verse" hemistich with a strong caesura between. In Beowulf, there are only five basic types of hemistich, with some used only as initial hemistichs and some only as secondary hemistichs. Furthermore, Middle English poetry also employed the hemistich as a coherent unit of verse, with both the Pearl Poet and Layamon using a regularized set of principles for which metrical (as well as alliterative) forms were allowed in which hemistich position.

* Hendecasyllable (verse)

The hendecasyllable is a verse of eleven syllables, used in Ancient Greek and Latin quantitative verse as well as in medieval and modern European poetry.

The term "hendecasyllable" is sometimes used in English poetry to describe a line of iambic pentameter with an extra short syllable at the end, as in the first line of John Keats's Endymion: "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever."

* Heptameter

Heptameter is one or more lines of verse containing seven metrical feet (usually fourteen or twenty-one syllables).

An example from Lord Byron's Youth and Age:

'Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruin'd turret wreathe,
All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and gray beneath.
O could I feel as I have felt, or be what I have been,
Or weep as I could once have wept o'er many a vanish'd scene,-
As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish though they be,
So midst the wither'd waste of life, those tears would flow to me!

* Hiatus (linguistics)

In phonology, hiatus or diaeresis refers to two vowel sounds occurring in adjacent syllables, with no intervening consonant. When two adjacent vowel sounds occur in the same syllable, the result is instead described as a diphthong.

The English words hiatus and diaeresis themselves contain a hiatus between the first and second syllables.

Many languages disallow or restrict hiatus, avoiding it either by deleting or assimilating the vowel, or by adding an extra consonant.

Epenthesis - A glottal stop or a glide may be added (epenthesis) between vowels to prevent hiatus.

Intrusive R - Some (but not all) non-rhotic dialects of English insert an /r/ to avoid hiatus after non-high word-final (or occasionally morpheme-final) vowels, although prescriptive guides for Received Pronunciation discourage this.

Contraction - In Greek and Latin poetry, hiatus is generally avoided, though it does occur in many authors under certain rules with varying degrees of poetic licence. Hiatus may be avoided by elision of a final vowel, occasionally prodelision (elision of initial vowel) and synizesis (pronunciation of two vowels as one without change in writing).

Sandhi - In Sanskrit, most instances of hiatus are avoided through the process of sandhi.

* High comedy

High comedy or 'pure comedy' is a type of comedy characterized by witty dialog, satire, biting humor, or criticism of life.

Today, high comedy can be seen among sitcoms targeted at cultured and articulate audiences. Examples of high comedy are frequently found in Monty Python skits.

* Higher criticism

Historical criticism, higher criticism, or the historical-critical method is a branch of literary analysis that investigates the origins of a text. As applied in biblical studies it investigates the books of the Bible and compares them to other texts written at the same time, before, or recently after the text in question. In Classical studies, the new higher criticism of the 19th century set aside "efforts to fill ancient religion with direct meaning and relevance and devoted itself instead to the critical collection and chronological ordering of the source material." Thus higher criticism, whether biblical, classical, Byzantine or medieval, focuses on the sources of a document to determine who wrote it, when it was written, and where. For example, higher criticism deals with the synoptic problem--the question of how Matthew, Mark, and Luke relate to each other. In some cases, such as with several Pauline epistles, higher criticism confirms the traditional understanding of authorship. In other cases, higher criticism contradicts church tradition (as with the gospels) or even the words of the Bible itself (as with 2 Peter).

The Dutch scholars Desiderius Erasmus (1466? - 1536) and Benedict Spinoza (1632–1677) are usually credited as the first to study the Bible in this way. When applied to the Bible, the historical-critical method is distinct from the traditional, devotional approach. In particular, while devotional readers concern themselves with the overall message of the Bible, historians examine the distinct messages of each book in the Bible. Guided by the devotional approach, for example, Christians often combine accounts from different gospels into single accounts, whereas historians attempt to discern what is unique about each gospel, including how they are different.

The historical-critical method to studying the Bible is taught nearly universally in Western nations, including in most seminaries. Most lay Christians are unaware of how different the academic view of the Bible is from their own. Conservative, evangelical schools, however, often reject this approach, teaching instead that the Bible is inerrant and that it reflects explicit divine inspiration.

The phrase higher criticism is used in contrast with lower criticism (or textual criticism), the endeavour to determine what a text originally said before it was altered (through error or intent).

* Historical linguistics

Historical linguistics (also called diachronic linguistics) is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:

to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages
to reconstruct the pre-history of languages and determine their relatedness, grouping them into language families (comparative linguistics)
to develop general theories about how and why language changes
to describe the history of speech communities
to study the history of words, i.e. etymology.

* Historical novel

According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is: "a novel that has as its setting a period of history and that attempts to convey the spirit, manners, and social conditions of a past age with realistic detail and fidelity (which is in some cases only apparent fidelity) to historical fact. The work may deal with actual historical personages...or it may contain a mixture of fictional and historical characters."

* Historical present

In linguistics and rhetoric, the historical present (also called dramatic present or narrative present) refers to the employment of the present tense when narrating past events. Besides its use in writing about history, especially in historical chronicles (listing a series of events), it is used in fiction, for 'hot news' (as in headlines), and in everyday conversation (Huddleston & Pullum 2002: 129-131). In conversation, it is particularly common with 'verbs of communication' such as tell, write, and say (and in colloquial uses, go) (Leech 2002: 7).

Literary critics and grammarians have said that the historical present has the effect of making past events more vivid. More recently, analysts of its use in conversation have argued that it functions, not by making an event present, but by marking segments of a narrative, foregrounding events (that is, signalling that one event is particularly important, relevant to others) and marking a shift to evaluation (Brinton 1992: 221).

* History (theatrical genre)

History is one of the three main genres in Western theatre, alongside tragedy and comedy. A play in this genre is known as a history play and is set in the past, often the medieval or early modern past. The best known examples of the genre are the history plays written by William Shakespeare, but it also appears elsewhere in British and Western literature, such as Thomas Heywood's Edward IV, Schiller's Mary Stuart or the Dutch genre Gijsbrecht van Aemstel.

* Hokku

Hokku (発句 lit. "starting verse"?) is the opening stanza of a Japanese orthodox collaborative linked poem, renga, or of its later derivative, renku (haikai no renga). From the time of Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694), the hokku began to appear as an independent poem, and was also incorporated in haibun (in combination with prose), and haiga (in combination with a painting). In the late 19th century, Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), renamed the stand-alone hokku to haiku, and the latter term is now generally applied retrospectively to all hokku appearing independently of renku or renga, irrespective of when they were written, although this approach has been challenged. The term 'hokku' continues to be used in its original sense, as the opening verse of a linked poem.

* Holograph

A holograph is a document written entirely in the handwriting of the person whose signature it bears. The laws of various U.S. states differ as to the validity of holographic last wills.

The expansion of the concept of holographic, or handwritten documents must include a discussion of the effectiveness of a document in accomplishing its intended purpose. Print media came into being as a solution to the problem of the sluggish and ponderous task of transcribing written materials by hand. Printing enabled rapid construction, compilation and production of written material and provided a means for the revolutionary concept of dissemination of copies of written material.

The intrinsic value of employing the handwritten word in creating a document is that the authorship of handwritten documents is able to be authenticated by handwriting comparison with samples of the author's other writings or by recognition by witnesses familiar with the handwriting style and characteristics of the author. This valuable quality of proof of authorship maintains to this day the primacy of the hand-written document where it was required, by law or by necessity, to have authenticity and verifiable provenance or origin of the document.

Of particular importance to law and society was to have the ultimate document requiring authenticity—a last will and testament—retain its authenticity, thereby accomplishing its author's intended purpose: that of making a valid, indisputable disposition of the author's real property, personal assets and wishes or declarations, at the time of his or her death.

The rule for creating a minimally acceptable "holographic" will has been agreed upon: to be indisputably without edit or revision by an outsider (other than the author), absolutely no mechanically printed material must be contained in the document. It must not be typeset, typewritten, mechanically printed or scribed by any means other than by the hand of the original author. This rule does not, however, apply to non-material terms of the will. As a result, so-called "form wills" purchased at stationery stores can constitute legally valid holographic wills provided that their material terms are completed solely in the testator's handwriting.

The will must be dated at the time of its writing, so that it can be compared (visually, forensically) with documents originating from the same author at other times, such as an earlier will (which might be intended by its author to be withdrawn or revoked by a later written will).

To be effective as a testamentary document, a "holographic" will must be signed by its author. Unlike a typewritten or word-processed "formal" will, where usually two disinterested witnesses are required to attest to the author's signing or "execution" of the document, a holographic will does not require any witnessing or notarization (an accepted form of witnessed certification of authenticity) in order to be a proper and valid testamentary instrument (document) having full legal force and effect.

* Homeric epithet - Epithets in Homer

A characteristic of Homer's style is the use of epithets, as in "rosy-fingered" dawn or "swift-footed" Achilles. Epithets are used because of the constraints of the dactylic hexameter (i.e., it is convenient to have a stockpile of metrically fitting phrases to add to a name) and because of the oral transmission of the poems; they are mnemonic aids to the poet and the audience alike.

* Homeric simile

Homeric simile, also called epic simile, is a detailed comparison in the form of a simile that is many lines in length. The word "Homeric" is based on the Greek author, Homer, who composed the two famous Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Many authors continue to use this type of simile in their writings.

The typical Homeric simile makes a comparison to some kind of event, in the form "like a ____ when it ______." The object of the comparison is usually something familiar to the audience, such as an animal or the weather. The Iliad, for instance, contains many such similes comparing fighting warriors to lions attacking wild boars or other prey.

Some, such as Professor G.P. Shipp, have argued that Homer’s similes appear to be irregular in relation to the text, as if they were added later. On the other hand, William Clyde Scott, in his book The Oral Nature of the Homeric Simile, suggests that Homer’s similes are originally based on the similarities of the similes and their surrounding narrative text. Scott argues that Homer primarily uses similes to introduce his characters, “sometimes to glorify them and sometimes merely to call attention to them.” He uses Agamemnon as an example, noting that each time he reenters the battle he is described with a simile. However, he also points out that Homer’s similes serve as a poetic device in order to foreshadow and keep the reader interested – just as the fateful, climactic confrontation of Achilles and Hector.

In her article On Homer’s Similes, Eleanor Rambo agrees with Scott that the similes are intentional, also noting that Homer’s use of similes deepen the reader’s understanding of the individual or action taking place through a word-picture association that the reader is able to relate to. She states that “the point of the simile is the verb which makes the common ground for the nouns involved.” According to Rambo, Homer uses similes in two different ways: those that stress physical motion and those that stress emotional disturbance.

* Homily

A homily is a commentary that follows a reading of scripture. In Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, a homily is usually given during Mass (Divine Liturgy for Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, and Divine Service for the Lutheran Church) at the end of the Liturgy of the Word. Many people consider it synonymous with a sermon.

* Hornbook

A hornbook is a book that serves as primer for study. The hornbook originated in England in 1450 (Huey, Edmund Burke). The term has been applied to a few different study materials in different fields. In children's education, in the years before modern education materials were used, it referred to a leaf or page containing the alphabet, religious materials, etc., covered with a sheet of transparent horn (or mica) and fixed in a frame with a handle.

In early childhood education, a hornbook was a primer for children consisting of a sheet containing the letters of the alphabet, mounted on wood, bone, or leather and protected by a thin sheet of transparent horn or mica. Sometimes the sheet was simply pasted against the slice of horn. The wooden frame often had a handle, and it was usually hung at the child's girdle. The sheet, which was first of vellum and later of paper, contained first a large cross, from which the horn-book was called the Christ Cross Row, or criss-cross-row. The alphabet in large and small letters followed. The vowels then formed a line, and their combinations with the consonants were given in a tabular form. The usual Trinitarian formula - "in the name of the Father and of the Sonne and of the Holy Ghost, Amen" - followed, then the Lord's Prayer, the whole concluding with the Roman numerals.

* Hubris

Hubris (also hybris) means extreme haughtiness or arrogance. Hubris often indicates being out of touch with reality and overestimating one's own competence or capabilities, especially for people in positions of power.

Hubris appears in the terms "act of hubris," and "hubristic."

In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance; it is often associated with a lack of humility, not always with the lack of knowledge. An accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in the Greek world. The proverb "pride goes before a fall" is thought to sum up the modern definition of hubris. It is also referred to as "pride that blinds", as it often causes someone accused of hubris to act in foolish ways that belie common sense. More recently, in his two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler, historian Ian Kershaw uses both 'hubris' and 'nemesis' as titles. The first volume, 'Hubris', describes Hitler's early life and rise to power. The second, 'Nemesis', gives details of Hitler's role in the Second World War, and concludes with his fall and suicide in 1945.

Examples of hubris are often found in fiction, most famously in Paradise Lost, John Milton's depiction of the biblical Lucifer. Victor in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein manifests hubris in his attempt to become a great scientist by creating life, but eventually regrets this previous desire. Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus portrays the titular character as a scholar whose arrogance and pride compel him to sign a deal with the devil, and retain his haughtiness until his death and damnation, despite the fact that he could have easily repented had he chosen so.

* Hudibrastic

Hudibrastic is a type of English verse named for Samuel Butler's Hudibras, published in parts from 1663 to 1678.[1] For the poem, Butler invented a mock-heroic verse structure. Instead of pentameter, the lines were written in iambic tetrameter. The rhyme scheme is the same as in heroic verse (aa, bb, cc, dd, etc.), but Butler used feminine rhyme for humor.

The first fourteen lines of Hudibras illustrate the verse form:

When civil dudgeon first grew high,
And men fell out they knew not why;
When hard words, jealousies, and fears,
Set folks together by the ears,
And made them fight, like mad or drunk,
For Dame Religion, as for punk;
Whose honesty they all durst swear for,
Though not a man of them knew wherefore:
When Gospel-Trumpeter, surrounded
With long-ear'd rout, to battle sounded,
And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,
Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,
And out he rode a colonelling.

The rhyme of "swear for" with "wherefore" and "ecclesiastic" with "(in)stead of a stick" are surprising, unnatural, and humorous. Additionally, the rhyme of "-don dwelling" with "a colonelling" is strained to the point of breaking, again for humorous effect. Further, the rhyme scheme in a Hudibrastic will imply inappropriate comparisons. For example, the rhyme of "drunk" and "punk" (meaning "a prostitute") implies that the religious ecstacies of the Puritans were the same as that of sexual intercourse and inebriation.

The hudibrastic has been traditionally used for satire. Jonathan Swift, for example, wrote nearly all of his poetry in hudibrastics.

* Humour

Humour or humor (see spelling differences) is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours (Latin: húmor, "body fluid"), control human health and emotion.

People of all ages and cultures respond to humour. The majority of people are able to experience humour, i.e., to be amused, to laugh or smile at something funny, and thus they are considered to have a sense of humour. The hypothetical person lacking a sense of humour would likely find the behaviour induced by humour to be inexplicable, strange, or even irrational. Though ultimately decided by personal taste, the extent to which an individual will find something humorous depends upon a host of variables, including geographical location, culture, maturity, level of education, intelligence and context. For example, young children may favour slapstick, such as Punch and Judy puppet shows or cartoons such as Tom and Jerry. Satire may rely more on understanding the target of the humour and thus tends to appeal to more mature audiences. Nonsatirical humour can be specifically termed "recreational drollery".

Many theories exist about what humour is and what social function it serves. The prevailing types of theories attempting to account for the existence of humour include psychological theories, the vast majority of which consider humour-induced behaviour to be very healthy; spiritual theories, which may, for instance, consider humour to be a "gift from God"; and theories which consider humour to be an unexplainable mystery, very much like a mystical experience.

* Humorism

Humorism, or humoralism, is a discredited theory of the makeup and workings of the human body adopted by Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers. From Hippocrates onward, the humoral theory was adopted by Greek, Roman and Islamic physicians, and became the most commonly held view of the human body among European physicians until the advent of modern medical research in the nineteenth century.

The four humors of Hippocratic medicine were black bile (gr. melan chole), yellow bile (gr. chole), phlegm (gr. phlegma), and blood (lat. sanguis).

* Hymn

A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος (hymnos), which means "a song of praise." Collections of hymns are known as hymnals or hymnbooks.

Ancient hymns include the Egyptian Great Hymn to the Aten, composed by Pharaoh Akhenaten; the Vedas, a collection of hymns in the tradition of Hinduism; and the Psalms, a collection of songs from Judaism. The Western tradition of hymnody begins with the Homeric Hymns, a collection of ancient Greek hymns, the oldest of which were written in the 7th century BC, praising deities of the ancient Greek religions. Surviving from the 3rd century BC is a collection of six literary hymns (Ὕμνοι) by the Alexandrian poet Callimachus.

Patristic writers began applying the term ὕμνος, or hymnus in Latin, to Christian songs of praise, and frequently used the word as a synonym for "psalm".

* Hymnal stanza - Common metre

Common metre or Common measure, abbreviated C. M., is a poetic meter consisting of four lines which alternate between iambic tetrameter (four metrical feet per line, with each foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable) and iambic trimeter (three metrical feet per line, with each foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable), rhyming in the pattern a-b-a-b. It has historically been used for ballads such as Tam Lin, and hymns such as Amazing Grace and the Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem. It has also been used for Advance Australia Fair, the national anthem of Australia.

* Hyperbole

Hyperbole (from ancient Greek ὑπερβολή 'exaggeration') is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.

Hyperboles are exaggerations to create emphasis or effect. As a literary device, hyperbole is often used in poetry, and is frequently encountered in casual speech. An example of hyperbole is: "The bag weighed a ton". Hyperbole helps to make the point that the bag was very heavy although it is not probable that it would actually weigh a ton. On occasion, newspapers and other media use hyperbole when speaking of an accident, to increase the impact of the story. This is more often found in tabloid newspapers, which often exaggerate accounts of events to appeal to a wider audience.

In rhetoric, some opposites of hyperbole are meiosis, litotes, understatement, and bathos (the 'letdown' after a hyperbole in a phrase).

* Hypercatalectic - Meter (poetry)

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.)

* Hypocorism

A hypocorism (from Greek ὑποκορίζεσθαι hypokorizesthai, "to use child-talk") is a shorter form of a word or given name, for example, when used in more intimate situations as a nickname or term of endearment.

* Hysteron proteron

The hysteron proteron (from the Greek: ὕστερον πρότερον, hýsteron próteron, "latter before") is a rhetorical device in which the first key word of the idea refers to something that happens temporally later than the second key word. The goal is to call attention to the more important idea by placing it first.

The standard example comes from the Aeneid of Virgil: "Moriamur, et in media arma ruamus" ("Let us die, and charge into the thick of the fight"; ii. 353). Another oft-cited example comes from the Last Supper in which Christ commands his disciples "...Take, eat; this is my body" (Matthew 26:26).

An example of hysteron proteron encountered in everyday life is that of a person getting up and putting on their "shoes and socks", rather than socks and shoes.

On a larger scale, the structure of Homer's Odyssey also takes advantage of hysteron proteron strategies. The epic begins by narrating Telemachus's difficulties dealing with his mother's suitors and his search for information about his long absent father, events that, temporally, occur nearly at the end of the overall sequence. When the poem introduces Odysseus, it does so after he has spent seven years in captivity on Calypso's island and is finally leaving; he builds a raft but is shipwrecked. He relates to his hosts, the Phaeacians, the adventures that brought him to this point, bringing the story up to his stay on Calypso's island. The Phaeacians help him finish his voyage, and he returns to Ithaca where he meets up with Telemachus and, together, the two deal with the suitors, who were the poem's first main concern.

In this way, the Odyssey's use of hysteron proteron shares elements with frame narratives, which remain a popular device today in movies and fiction.

In addition to being a rhetorical device, the hysteron proteron can be used to describe a situation that is the reverse of the natural or logical order. "Putting the cart before the horse" and "topsy-turvydom" are examples/synonyms of hysteron proteron.

The author J. K. Stanford named one of his principal characters George Hysteron-Proteron.

* Hypotaxis

Hypotaxis is the grammatical arrangement of functionally similar but "unequal" constructs (hypo="beneath", taxis="arrangement"), i.e., constructs playing an unequal role in a sentence.

A common example of syntactic expression of hypotaxis is subordination in a complex sentence. Another example is observed in premodification. In the phrase "inexpensive composite materials", "composite" modifies "materials" while "inexpensive" modifies the complex head "composite materials" , rather than "composite" or "materials". In this example the phrase units are hierarchically structured, rather than being on the same level, as compared to the example "Cockroaches love warm, damp, dark places". Notice the syntactic difference; hypotactic modifiers cannot be separated by commas.

A classical example of verbal hypotaxis, unobservable in English, is the Greek phrase Molon labe.

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

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Published - February 2011

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