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Superglossary - Literature
Category: General > Literature
Date & country: 11/12/2013, US
Words: 1725

Deus Ex Machina
(from Greek theos apo mechanes) An unrealistic or unexpected intervention to rescue the protagonists

A sidekick who accompanies the main protagonist, the main character or hero, in a narrative. In The

Deuteronomic Law
The belief that God could choose to wait several generations before punishing a sinful race for the

(Grk, 'across time') An analysis of literature, history, or linguistics is diachronic if it examines

(from Greek, 'cleft' or 'gash', also called Epizeuxis or repetition) Uninterrupted repetition, or re

An accent or change to a normal alphabetical letter to differentiate its pronunciation.

The language of a particular district, class, or group of persons. The term dialect encompasses the

The lines spoken by a character or characters in a play, essay, story, or novel, especially a conver

(Italian via French, 'sparkling decoration,' cognate with diamond, pronounced dee oh MON tay) A genr

Diaper Work
In spite of how unpleasant the word sounds, diaper work is actually a common, beautiful design in me

An informal record of a person's private life and day-to-day thoughts and concerns. Conventionally,

The choice of a particular word as opposed to others. A writer could call a rock formation by many w

Didactic Literature
Writing that is 'preachy' or seeks overtly to convince a reader of a particular point or lesson. Med

(also called an umlaut) A diacritic mark (¨) to show that vowels represent sounds of different qu

Jacque Derrida's French term (untranslatable in English), which puns on the verb différer meaning

Any use of two alphabetical letters to indicate a single phonetic sound. For instance, in phonograph

A line containing only two metrical feet. See meter and foot.

The heraldic practice of combining two animals in a coat-of-arms into a single composite creature.

Any affix meaning 'small.' It can suggest cuteness or an emotional attachment. An example is the wor

Ding-Dong Theory
The linguistic theory that language began as instinctive responses to stimuli (Algeo 316).

The Athenian religious festivals celebrating Dionysus in March-April. Dionysus (Roman Bacchus) was t

(from Greek dipthongus) A complex speech sound in which a speaker begins to articulate one vowel and

In classical prosody, dipody describes the combination of two feet into another single metrical unit

The change of a normal vowel into a diphthong.

Discovery Space
According to Stephen Greenblatt, this is 'A central opening or alcove concealed behind a curtain in

This term in linguistics refers to the ability of language to indicate or signify things not physica

A linguistic development in which two sounds become less alike. Algeo (317) offers the example of di

The technical term for a two-line group in which a pair of metrical lines of different lengths toget

An ancient Athenian poetic form sung during the Dionysia (see above). The first tragedies may have o

Dog Latin
Unidiomatic or crude pidgin Latin intermixed with local tongues. An example of dog latin appears in

Dolce Stil Nuovo
(Italian, 'sweet new style') Dante uses this term to describe the style of lyric poetry he sought to

The term donatism is an eponym taken from a bishop in North Africa named Donatus. During the patrist

(French, 'given') The assumptions upon which a writer constructs a work of literature. Some common e

Dosbarth Gwynedd
Also known as the Venodotian Code or the 'four and twenty measures,' the Dosbarth Gwynedd are an anc

Double Dactyl
A comic verse written with two quatrains, with each line written in dactylic dimeter. The second lin

Double Entendre
(French, 'double meaning') The deliberate use of ambiguity in a phrase or image--especially involvin

Double Negative
Two (or more) negatives used for emphasis, e.g., 'I don't want no candy' as opposed to 'I don't want

Double Plot
When an author uses two related plots within a single narrative. See futher discussion under subplot

Double Rhyme
A rhyme that involves two syllables rather than one. For instance, rhyming lend/send is a single rhy

Double Superlative
Double use of the superlative degree--such as the word foremost, which uses both the superlative suf

In linguistics, a pair of words that derive from the same etymon, but since they were adapted at dif

Greenblatt describes this process as, 'The common [Renaissance] practice of having one actor play mu

Draculas Law
A helpful mnemonic phrase, 'blood is good food' useful for remembering sound shifts in the vowel o f

A composition in prose or verse presenting, in pantomime and dialogue, a narrative involving conflic

Dramatic Monologue
A poem in which a poetic speaker addresses either the reader or an internal listener at length. It i

Dramatis Personae
(Latinpeople of the play)

Once, the aboriginal tongue of all India, but now spoken primarily in only the southern regions of t

Dream Vision
(Visio) A genre of poetry popular in the Middle Ages. By convention, a fictionalized version of the

In contrast to the singular and plural forms of nouns and pronouns in Modern English, Old English ha

Anthologies of Irish bardic poetry from between 1150-1500 CE. An example is the Yellow Book of Lecan

Dumb Shows
These mimed scenes before a play or before each act in a play summarized or foreshadowed the coming

Duple Meter
Poetry consisting of two syllables to a metrical foot, and one foot to each line. It is a rare form.

A Welsh term for a form of fanciful conceit in which a string of sequential metaphors compares an ob

Dying Rhyme
Another term for feminine metrical endings. See discussion under meter.

Dynamic Character
Also called a round character, a dynamic character is one whose personality changes or evolves over

(from Greek, dys topos, 'bad place') The opposite of a utopia, a dystopia is an imaginary society in

Early Modern English
Modern English covers the time-frame from about 1450 or so up to the present day. However, linguists

Ease Of Articulation
The linguistic concern for how certain sound changes in words might be motivated by how easy or hard

East Germanic
A sub-branch of the Germanic language family. Gothic was an East Germanic language.

Easter Uprising
On Easter Monday in 1916, about 1,200 Irish revolutionaries armed with only rifles engaged in an abo

Echoic Words
Another term for onomatopoeia, i.e., when the actual sound of the word resembles its referent--like

(Greek 'leaving out,' cf. Modern English eclipse) A type of enallage in which an author or poet omit

(Greek 'selection') A short poem or short section of a longer poem in the form of a dialogue or soli

(plural, ecphrases) A passage of literature or poetry in which the writer disrupts the narrative and

Another spelling of the word eth.

In Greek comedy, the eiron was a stock male character known for his ironic understatement. This char

(Greek, 'ecstasy') In Greek thinking, ekstasos is a non-rational state of mind that people achieve b

In classical Greco-Roman literature, 'elegy' refers to any poem written in elegiac meter (alternatin

(verb form, elide) (1) In poetry, when the poet takes a word that ends in a vowel, and a following w

Occurring in the time of Queen Elizabeth I's reign, from 1558-1603. Shakespeare wrote his early work

Ellesmere Manuscript
Usually referred to as 'the Ellesmere,' this book is one of the most important surviving fifteenth-c

(plural, ellipses) (1) In its oldest sense as a rhetorical device, ellipsis refers to the artful omi

Nathaniel Hawthorne's term for a private symbol. He also refers to private symbols as tokens. Exampl

(Greek, 'interchange') Intentionally misusing grammar to characterize a speaker or to create a memor

A linguistic formation in which a separate word, during the process contraction, becomes part of the

Enclosing Method
Another term for framing method.

An official statement by the papacy. Individual encyclicals lack titles in the modern sense, and the

End Rhyme
Rhyme in which the last word at the end of each verse is the word that rhymes. This contrasts with i

English Sonnet
Another term for a Shakespearean sonnet. See discussion under sonnet, or click here to download a PD

A group of certain Welsh tercets and quatrains written in strict Welsh meters including monorhyme an

(French, 'straddling,' in English also called 'run-on line,' pronounced on-zhahm-mah) A line having

(also called the neoclassic movement) the philosophical and artistic movement growing out of the Ren

Environmental Writings
Writings focused on nature or man's relationship to nature, especially the transcendental essays and

An alternative French spelling for envoy, below.

Also spelled, envoi, the word envoy refers to a postscript added to the end of a prose writing or a

Repeating a word in the middle of a clause in either the opening or the conclusion of the same sente

Repeating a word from the beginning of a clause or phrase at the end of the same clause or phrase

(also called infixation) Adding an extra syllable or letters in the middle of a word. Shakespeare mi

An epic in its most specific sense is a genre of classical poetry. It is a poem that is (a) a long n

Epic Simile
A formal and sustained simile (see under tropes). Like a regular simile, an epic simile makes a comp

Epicene Pronoun
A gender-neutral pronoun for human beings. English does have gender-neutral pronouns for objects (it

The Greek philosophy of Epicurus, who espoused a life of gentle hedonism ameliorated by rational mod

(from Greek epigramma 'an inscription') (1) An inscription in verse or prose on a building, tomb, or

A conclusion added to a literary work such as a novel, play, or long poem. It is the opposite of a p

A summary of the moral of the fable appearing at the end of the main narrative. If it is found at th

Christian thinkers used this term to signify a manifestation of God's presence in the world. It has

A scene involving the actors' dialogue and action rather than the chorus's singing, or sections of s

The Greek word for episode. See above.

Occurring in a long string of short, individual scenes, stories, or sections, rather than focusing o

(1) A poem addressed to a patron, friend, or family member, thus a kind of 'letter' in verse. (2) An