Big List of Poetic Terms

Wondering what alliteration is or how to write in iambic pentameter?

Poets use all sorts of poetic devices and figurative language to make their poems sound a certain way and give the reader a certain feeling. You’ve probably heard about some of these — like simile, metaphor, alliteration, rhyme, and onomatopoeia — but there are all sorts of devices and figurative language you can use in your own writing to really get your message across.

The websites listed here explain the different poetic terms and devices and give samples to show you how they are used. The best way to learn, however, is to just keep writing and experimenting!

Poetry Foundation (extensive glossary)

McGraw-Hill Glossary of Poetic Terms

Poets’ Graves Glossary of Poetic Terms (extensive)

And here’s the big list. How many have you heard of?

allegory
alliteration
allusion
ambiguity
anachronism
anagram
anapest
anaphora
anthropomorphism
antithesis
aphorism
apostrophe
assonance

cacoophony
cadence
caesura
chiasmus
choriamb
circumlocution
conceit
consonance

dactyl
dimeter
dissonance
double dactyl

elision
ellipsis
end-stopped
enjambment

falling meter
figure of speech
foot

heptameter
heroic couplet
hyperbole

iamb
image
imagery
irony

kenning

litotes

metaphor
meter
metonymy
motif

neologism

objectivism
onomatopoeia
oxymoron

palindrome
paradox
parody
pentameter
personification
poetic diction
poetic license
pun

refrain
rhyme
rhythm

scansion
simile
spondee
sprung rhythm
stanza
stress
syllable
symbol
synecdoche
synesthesia

tetrameter
tone
trimeter
trochee

understatement

 

 

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