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Glossary

A B C D E F H I K L M O P Q R S T V
     
  • Acrostic
    An acrostic is a series of lines or verses in which the first, last or other particular letters, when taken in order, spell out a word or phrase.
  • Allegory
    An allegory is a symbolic story that serves as a disguised representation for meanings other than those indicated on the surface. The characters in an allegory often have no individual personality, but are embodiments of moral qualities and other abstractions. The allegory is closely related to the parable, fable and metaphor, differing from them largely in intricacy and length. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a prose narrative, is an allegory of man's spiritual salvation.
  • Alliteration
    Alliteration is the repetition of the same starting sound in several words of a sentence: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper is an example of alliteration.
  • AKA
    Also known as
  • Anapest
    An anapest is a metrical foot of three syllables, the first two short, the last long. The anapest is the reverse of the dactyl.
  • Anthology
    An anthology is collection of poems, stories, songs etc chosen by the compiler. Forward Press compiles anthologies.
  • Antistrophe
    An antistrophe is the last of three series of lines forming the divisions of each section of a Pindaric ode.
  • Assonance
    Assonance is also called 'vowel rhyme'. Assonance is the repetition or a pattern of similar sounds: "That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea" (William Butler Yeats).


  • Ballad
    A ballad is a poem that tells a story, that often has a repeated refrain. 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is an example of a ballad.
  • Ballade
    A ballade is a type of poem, usually with three stanzas of seven, eight, or ten lines and a shorter final stanza (or envoy) of four or five lines. All stanzas end with the same one-line refrain.
  • Blank verse
    Blank verse is poetry that is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.


  • Caesura
    A Caesura is a pause in a line of verse dictated by sense or natural speech rhythm rather than by metrics.
  • Canto
    A canto is one of the main or larger divisions of a long poem.
  • Canzone
    A canzone is a medieval Italian lyric poem, with five or six stanzas and a shorter concluding stanza (or envoy).
  • Chorus
    A chorus is part of a song or poem that is repeated following each verse (aka refrain).
  • Cinquain
    The cinquian was created by Adelaide Crapsey. A cinquian is composed of five unrhymed lines of two, four, six, eight and two syllables.
  • Consisting
    Made up of or composed of.
  • Consonance
    Consonance is the repetition of consonants or of a consonant pattern, especially at the ends of words.
  • Composition
    (of writing) The putting together of words in a correct and effective way.
  • Couplet
    A couplet is a pair of lines that are the same length and usually rhyme and form a complete thought. Shakespearean sonnets end in a rhyming couplet.


  • Dactyl
    A dactyl is a foot of three syllables, one long followed by two short in quantitative meter, or one stressed followed by two unstressed in accentual meter, as in gently and humanly. The dactyl is the reverse of the anapest.
  • Diamante
    The diamante, or diamond, poem is a style of poetry made up of 6 lines, using only 13 words, and forms the shape of a diamond. The poem starts with one subject and evolves into a different subject, the opposite of the starting subject.


  • Echo Verse
    Echo verse is a poem in which the words or syllables at the end of a line are repeated as a repsonse in the next line, often for ironic purposes.
  • Elegy
    An elergy is a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.
  • Enjambment
    Enjambent, in poetry, is the continuation of an idea or thought from one line to the next.
  • Envoy
    An envoy is the shorter final stanza of a poem.
  • Epic
    An epic is a long, serious poem that tells the story of a heroic figure, such as Odyssey or Beowulf.
  • Epigram
    An epigram is a very short, witty poem: "Sir, I admit your general rule,/That every poet is a fool,/But you yourself may serve to show it,/That every fool is not a poet" (Samuel Taylor Coleridge).
  • Epistle
    An epistle is a composition in prose or poetry written in the form of a letter.
  • Epithalamium
    An epithalamium is a poem in honour of a bride and bridegroom.
  • Epode
    An epode is the last of three series of lines forming the divisions of each section of a Pindaric ode.


  • Feminine rhyme
    Feminine rhyme is a rhyme either of two syllables of which the second is unstressed (double rhyme), as in motion, notion, or of three syllables of which the second and third are unstressed (triple rhyme), as in fortunate, importunate.
  • Foot
    A foot is a group of two or more syllables in which one syllable has the major stress, forming the basic unit of poetic rhythm.
  • Free verse
    Free verse is also known as vers libre, is poetry composed of either rhymed or unrhymed lines that have no set meter.


  • Haiku
    Haiku is a Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Traditional haiku often reflect on some aspect of nature, though modern haiku are unrestricted on subject matter.
  • Heptameter
    A heptameter is a line of poetry that has seven metrical feet.
  • Heroic couplet
    A heroic couplet is a stanza composed of two rhymed lines in iambic pentameter.
  • Hexameter
    A hexameter is a line of poetry that has six metrical feet.
  • Hokku
    Hokku is the opening verse of a linked verse series. Hokku is also known as Haiku.
  • Hyperbole
    Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which deliberate exaggeration is used for emphasis. 'A flood of tears' or 'a mountain of ashes' are examples of hyperbole. Hyperbole is the opposite of litotes.


  • Iamb
    An iamb is a metrical foot of two syllables, one short (or unstressed) and one long (or stressed). The iamb is the reverse of the trochee.
  • Iambic pentameter
    Iambic pentameter is the most common type of meter in English poetry, in which there are five iambs to a line. (The prefix penta- means "five," as in pentagon, a geometrical figure with five sides. Meter refers to rhythmic units. In a line of iambic pentameter, there are five rhythmic units that are iambs.)
  • Idiosyncratic
    Idiosyncratic means a structural or behavioural characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
  • Idyll
    An idyll is either a short poem depicting a tranquil country scene, or a long poem telling a story about heroic deeds or extraordinary events of myth and legend.


  • Kenning
    A kenning is a poetic phrase of one line used in place of a person / place / object, for example 'a wave rider','for','a boat'. A Kennings poem is made up of several individual phrases. One phrase is referred to as a kenning and the complete poem as a Kennings.
  • Kyrielle
    A kyrielle is a French verse form, usually octosyllabic, rhyming couplets. The rhyming couplets are often paired in quatrains and are characterised by a refrain that is sometimes a single word and sometimes the full second line of the couplet, or the full fourth line of the quatrain.


  • Lay
    A lay is a long narrative poem.
  • Limerick
    A limerick is a humorous poem of five lines with the rhyme scheme of aabba.
  • Litotes
    Litotes is an understatement for rhetoric effect, especially when an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary, as in 'not bad at all'. Litotes is the opposite of hyperbole.
  • Liturgy
    A liturgy is a form of public worship.
  • Lyric
    A lyric, in poetry, is a short personal poem.


  • Masculine rhyme
    Masculine rhyme is a rhyme of but a single stressed syllable, as in disdain, complain.
  • Metaphor
    A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance. 'A mighty fortress is our god' or 'a sea of troubles' are examples of metaphor.
  • Meter
    Meter is the arrangement of a line of poetry by the number of syllables and the rhythm of stressed syllables.


  • Octosyllabic
    Octosyllabic means consisting of eight syllables.
  • Ode
    An ode is a poem devoted to the praise of a person, animal, or thing. An ode is usually written in an elevated style and often expresses deep feeling. John Keats wrote several odes.
  • Onomatopoeia
    Onomatopoeia means to use words to imitate sounds. 'The hum of the bees' or 'The tin can rattled down the alleyway' are examples of onomatopoeia.
  • Ottava rima
    An ottava rima is a poem consisting of 10- or 11-syllable lines arranged in 8-line octaves with the rhyme scheme abababcc.
  • Oxymoron
    An oxymoron is a figure of speech that uses contradictory terms.'Plastic glass','deafening silence','pretty ugly' and 'minor crisis' are all examples of an oxymoron.


  • Pantoum
    A pantoum is a verse form consisting of a series of quatrains in which the seond and fourth lines of each verse are repeated as the first and third lines of the next
  • Pentameter
    Pentameter is a line of poetry that has five metrical feet.
  • Personification
    Personification means to give human attributes to objects or ideas. 'Death is tall, dark and deadly' or 'Blind justice' are examples of personification.
  • Petrarchan Sonnet
    Please see Sonnet for definition.
  • Poem
    A poem is an arrangement of words written or spoken: traditionally a rhythmical compostion, sometimes rhymed, expressing experiences, ideas or emotions in a style more imaginative and powerful than that of ordinary speech or prose: some poems are in meter, others free verse.
  • Poetry
    Poetry is literature in metrical form, i.e. verse.
  • Poetry Slam
    A poetry slam is a spoken-word poetry competition.
  • Powerful Verbs
    Using a synonym to make your writing more exciting. For example - instead of saying hit use slam, punch, whack, beat, scratch, smack, spank.
  • Prose
    Prose is the ordinary form of written or spoken language, without rhyme or meter; speech or writing,sometimes, specifically non-fictional writing that is not poetry.


  • Quatrain
    Quatrain is a stanza four lines.


  • Renga
    A renga is a Japanese verse form in which stanzas of three lines alternating with stanzas of two lines are composed by two or more poets in alternation.
  • Renku
    A renku is, by strict definition, a smaller, more rigidly-structured subset of renga, with three-line haikus (five syllables / seven syllables / seven syllables) alternating with two-line stnzas of seven syllables each.
  • Refrain
    A refrain is a phrase or verse recurring at intervals in a song or poem, especially at the end of each stanza; chorus.
  • Rondeau
    A rondeau is a short poem of fixed form, consisting of 13 or 10 lines on two rhymes and having the opening words or phrase used in two places as an unrhymed refrain.
  • Rhyme
    A rhyme is a word that is identical to another in its terminal sound: 'while' is a rhyme for 'mile'.
  • Rhyming Couplet
    Rhyming couplets are a pair of lines that are the same length and usually rhyme and form a complete thought. Shakespearean sonnets end in a rhyming couplet.
  • Rhyming Dictionary
    A rhyming dictionary is a dictionary available online and in a published book format, that suggests rhymes for words.
  • Rhythm
    A rhythm is a uniform or patterned recurrence of beat, accent or similar. (For poetry) metrical or rhymical form aka meter.


  • Simile
    A simile describes something or someone 'like' or 'as' something else. 'She was as white as a ghost' is an example of a simile.
  • Shakespearean Sonnet
    Please see Sonnet for definition.
  • Slam
    Please see Poetry Slam for definition.
  • Sonnet
    A sonnet is a poem, properly expressive of a single, complete thought, idea, or sentiment, of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter, with rhymes arranged according to one of certain definite schemes, being in the strict or Italian (aka Petrarchan Sonnet) form divided into a major group of 8 lines (the octave) followed by a minor group of 6 lines (the sestet), and in a common Shakespearean form into 3 quatrains followed by a rhyming couplet.
  • Speakeasy
    Speakeasy are the promoters of some of the best local and national spoken word talent in the UK.
  • Stanza
    A stanza is an arrangement of a certain number of lines, usually four or more, sometimes having a fixed length, meter, or rhyme scheme, forming a division of a poem.
  • Strophe
    A strophe is the first of three series of lines forming the divisions of each section of a Pindaric ode.
  • Synonym
    A synonym is a word that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word in the language, such as joyful, elated, glad.


  • Tanka
    A tanka is a Japanese poem of five lines, the first and third lines are composed of five syllables and the rest of seven.
  • Tercet
    A tercet is a three-lined stanza, often rhyming. A tercet is included in poetry styles such as terza rima, odes, sonnets, cantos and villanelles.
  • Terza rima
    A terza riman is a type of poetry consisting of 10- or 11-syllable lines arranged in three-line tercets with the rhyme scheme aba bcb cdc, etc. The poet Dante is credited with inventing terza rima, which he used in his Divine Comedy.
  • Tetractys
    The poetic form of the tetractys only has five lines. Each line adds one syllable until the last line which has ten syllables.    
  • Tetrameter 
    A tetrameter is a line of verse that has four metrical feet.               
  • Triolet 
    A triolet is a short poem of fixed form, having a rhyme scheme of ab, aa, abab, and having the first line repeated as the fourth and seventh lines, and the second line repeated as the eighth.                           
  • Trochee 
    A trochee is a metrical foot of two syllables, one long (or stressed) and one short (or unstressed). The trochee is the reverse of the iamb.


  • Verse                               
    A verse is a single metrical line of poetry.
  • Villanelle 
  • A villanelle is a short poem of fixed form, written in tercets, usually five in number, follwed by a final quantrain, all being based on tow rhymes.




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