COMMON CORE Terminology List 11-12

This document is a mix of literary terms and terminology to be used in grades 11-12.

Developed by North Dakota English Language Arts Teachers 4/18/2012

 English Language Arts Grades 9-12 Literary Terms and Terminology

Allegory - a work with two levels of meaning, literal and symbolic. in such a work, most of the characters, objects, settings, and events represent abstract qualities. The purpose of an allegory may be to convey truths about life, to teach religious or moral lessons, or to criticize social institutions.

Allusion - an indirect reference to a person, place, event, or literary work with which the author believes the reader will be familiar

Analogy - a point-by-point comparison between two things for the purpose of clarifying the less familiar of the two subjects

Analyze – to examine and break down information into small parts as to identify causes, key factors, and possible results

Anecdote - a brief story that focuses on a single episode or event in a person’s life and is used to illustrate a particular point

Aphorism - a brief statement, usually one sentence long, that expresses a general opinion about life

Argumentation – a type of discourse in speech or writing that debates or simply develops a topic in a logical way

Assess – to evaluate or judge the quality of; to evaluate

Assonance - the repetition of vowel sounds within words

Bias – to cause favoritism toward or against (especially unfairly) a person, place, thing, or idea

Character –

 flat - a character that remains undeveloped

 round – a character that is developed

 static – a character that does not undergo change

 dynamic - a character that undergoes some transformation

Citation – verbal or written credit given for a source

Cite – to give credit (verbal or written) to a source

Claim - an assertion of something as a fact

Counterclaim – a claim set up in opposition to another

Cliché - an overused expression that has lost its freshness, force, and appeal.

Cohesion – the property of unity in a written text or a segment of spoken discourse

Colloquialism - a term defining the diction of common, ordinary folks, especially in a specific region or area

Comedy – light and amusing narrative in which the central characters triumph over adversity

Compare – to examine and appraise characteristics or qualities in order to discover similarities

Contrast – to examine and appraise characteristics or qualities in order to discover differences

Conclusion – often referred to as the ending, the final section of a piece of writing or speech

Connotation - the emotional response evoked by a word, in contrast to the denotation, which is its literal meaning (see denotation)

Consonance - the repetition of consonant sounds within and at the end of words

Delineate – to analytically list with detail and precision

Denotation - a word’s literal meaning, as opposed to the emotional response it provokes (see connotation)

Dialogue – a conversation between characters in a drama or narrative

Direct quotation – author’s words copied directly from the text and noted with quotation marks

Discrepancy – opposition to prevailing idea or entity

Discussion Strategies

1. Socratic seminar – regularly engage students in dialogues by responding to questions with questions, instead of just providing answers (

2. Final Word Protocol – text-based, small-group discussion strategy

3. Scored Discussion – small group of students carry on a content-related discussion about a text, chapter, or book while classmates listen and assess their peers discussion skills

4. Discussion Web – gives students an opportunity to share their ideas in discussion by sharing with a partner first before explaining their position to the whole class.

5. Reciprocal teaching – students learn the skills of summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting well enough to perform as an instructor or student leader of content

Epilogue - the concluding section of a work

Etymology – the study of history and development of the structures, origin, and meanings of words

Euphemism – the substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant

Expository writing or speech – writing or speech primarily intended to convey information or to explain

Fallacious reasoning – logically unsound statements or thinking

Figurative language – language that achieves a special meaning or effect; e.g. simile, metaphor, oxymoron

Foil - a character whose traits contrast with those of another character

Free verse - poetry that does not have regular patterns of rhyme and meter

Gothic - a genre characterized by a general mood of decay, action that is dramatically and generally violent or otherwise disturbing, and gloomy or bleak settings

Hyperbole - a figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humorous effect

Imagery - the descriptive words or phrases a writer uses to re-create sensory experiences

Inference - a conclusion reached by interpreting information

Informative/explanatory text – non-fiction writing in narrative and non-narrative form that is intended to inform (

Internal rhyme - rhyme that occurs within a line of verse

In-text citation - note made in the text that signals where the information was found

Irony- a contradiction or incongruity between appearance or expectation and reality.

  • dramatic irony – contrast between what a character thinks to be true and what reader knows to be true
  • situational irony – contrast between what happens and what was expected to happen
  • verbal irony - occurs when someone states one thing and means another

Logical fallacy - a flaw in the structure of a deductive argument which renders the argument invalid

Local color - local color realism, especially popular in the late 18th century, is a style of writing that truthfully imitates ordinary life and brings a particular region alive by portraying the dialects, dress, mannerisms, customs, character types, and landscapes of that region

Memoir - a form of autobiographical writing in which a person recalls significant events and people in his or her life

Metaphor – direct comparison of two dissimilar things

Mood – overall feeling or emotional quality that an author creates for the readers

Motivation - the reasons, either stated or implied, for a character's behavior

Narrative - a story or a telling of a story, or an account of a situation or event.

Naturalism - an offshoot of realism, naturalism was a literary movement that originated in France in the late 1800s. Like the realists, the naturalists sought to render common people and ordinary life accurately. However, the naturalists emphasized how instinct and environment affect human behavior.

Non-fiction (informational text) - prose writing that deals with real people, things, events, and places

Nuances – a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, or response (

Objective summary – summary produced without bias or opinion using textual evidence

Onomatopoeia - use of a word whose sound imitates or suggests its meaning (ex: “buzz”)

Oxymoron - a figure of speech that combines opposite or contradictory ideas or terms (“living death”).

Pacing – speed at which an author tells a story; movement from one point to another (

Paradox - a statement that seems to contradict itself but may nevertheless suggest an important truth

Parallel plots – multiple plots happening simultaneously

Parallel structure – using similar grammatical structures i.e. words, phrases, lines

Paraphrase – to restate a text passage or work, giving the meaning in another form (

Pathos - the quality in a work of literature or art that arouses the reader's feelings of pity, sorrow, or compassion for a character

Personification - a figure of speech in which something nonhuman is given human qualities.

Plagiarism – the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work, as by not crediting the author (

Plot - the sequence of events or actions in a short story, novel, play, or narrative poem

Point of view - vantage point from which a writer tells a story.

  • first person - the narrator is a character in the story. First person pronouns include I, me, my
  • third person limited - the narrator, who plays no part in story, zooms in on the thoughts and feelings of one character
  • third person omniscient - the narrator plays no part in the story but can tell us what all the characters are thinking and feeling as well as what is happening

Premise – a proposition on which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn

Primary source - materials written or created by people who were present at events are called primary sources.

  • Letters, diaries, speeches, autobiographies, and photographs are examples of primary sources, as are certain narrative accounts written by actual participants or observers.

Protagonist - main character in fiction or drama.

Realism - refers to any effort to offer an accurate and detailed portrayal of real life.

  • During the 19th century, realism was based on careful observations of contemporary life, often focusing on lower and middle classes. they attempted to represent life objectively without the sentimentality and idealism of earlier literature.

Refrain - a word, phrase, line or group of lines repeated regularly in a poem usually at the end of each stanza

Repetition – the return of a word, phrase, stanza form or effect in any form of literature.

Resolution - all action taking place after the climax; also known as falling action

Rhetoric – the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse; the study of the effective use of language (

Rising-action - the action leading to the climax and the simultaneous increase of tension in the plot

Rhyme - repetition of accented vowel sounds and all sounds following them in words that are close together in a poem

Romanticism - a movement in the arts that flourished in Europe and America throughout much of the 19th century. Romantic writers glorified nature and celebrated individuality. Their treatment of subject was emotional rather that rational, intuitive rather than analytic.

Satire - a literary technique in which foolish ideas or customs are ridiculed for the purpose of improving society. Satire may be gently witty, mildly abrasive, or bitterly critical.

Scaffolding (text complexity band)- specialized instructional supports needed in order to best facilitate learning (

Scene – traditionally, a subdivision of an act in drama

Sensory language – use of words to describe tastes, smells, textures, sounds, and images in order to provide a sensory experience for the reader (

Seminal – strongly influencing later developments of a work, event, moment, or figure

Setting - the time and place in which the events in a short story, novel, play or narrative poem occur

Situational irony - a contrast between what is expected to happen and what actually does happen

Simile - a comparison made between two things through the use of a specific word or comparison, such as like, as, than or resemble

Speaker - the voice that speaks to a reader in a poem

Stanza - group of consecutive lines that form a single unit in a poem

Stereotype - classifying people by their traits

Stream of consciousness - a technique that was developed by modernist writers to present the flow of a character’s seemingly unconnected thoughts, responses, and sensations

Style - the distinctive way in which a work of literature is written. Style refers not so much to what is said but how it is said. Word choice, sentence length, tone, imagery and use of dialogue all contribute to a writer’s style.

Summarize – give a brief statement of the main points of something (

Suspense - the uncertainty of anxiety we feel about what is going to happen next in a story

Symbolism - the serious and relatively sustained use of symbols to represent or suggest other ideas or things.

Syntax – the arrangement of words or phrases to create well-formed sentences (

Synthesize – combine a number of things into a coherent whole

Soliloquy - in drama, an extended speech delivered by a character alone onstage

Symbol - person, place, thing, or event that stands both for itself and for something beyond itself

Text complexity band- see appendix A pages 2-16 of the Common Core Standards document for additional information

Textual evidence – facts, figures, details, quotations, or other sources of data that provide support for claims or an analysis and that can be evaluated by others (

Theme – a topic discussion or writing; a major idea or proposition broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary or other work of art (

Tone – author’s or narrator’s attitude reflected in the style of the text (

Tragedy - play, novel, or other narrative, depicting serious and important events, in which the main character comes to an unhappy end

Transcendentalism - a philosophy based on a belief that “transcendent forms” of truth exist beyond reason and experience. The movement was led by Ralph Waldo Emerson and included writer Henry David Thoreau.

Transition – connection (a word, phrase, clause, sentence, or entire paragraph) between two parts of a piece of writing {and speaking} contributing to cohesion (

Vernacular - the use of plain, everyday language

Voice - voice refers to a writer’s unique use of language that allows a reader to “hear” a human personality in his or her writing. The elements of style that determine a writer’s voice include sentence structure, diction, and tone. The term can be applied to the narrator of a selection, as well as the writer.

Last modified: Monday, 8 October 2012, 2:34 PM