100 Key Terms: AP English Language and Composition

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abstraction
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a concept or idea without a specific example; idealized generalization
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abstract noun
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Ideas or things that can mean many things to many people, such as peace, honor, etc.
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allegory
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A narrative or description with a secondary or symbolic meaning underlying the literal meaning. Satirists sometimes use allegory because it allows them a way to indirectly attack their satirical target. Swifts Gulliver Travels is an example
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alliteration
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Repetition, at close intervals, of beginning sounds
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allusion (allude to)
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A reference to something in culture, history, or literature that expands the depth of the text if the reader makes the connection
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allusion, classical
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A reference to classical (especially Greek or roman) myth, literature, or culture
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analogy
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Compares two things that are similar in several respects in order to prove a point or clarify an idea
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analogical comparison
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Another way to say the author has used analogy
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anecdote
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A short narrative of an amusing, unusual, revealing, or interesting event. Usually, the anecdote is combined with other material such as expository essays or arguments to clarify abstract points or to create a memorable image. Anecdotal: evidence that relies on observations, presented in narrative.
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anticlimax, anticlimactic
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An event or experience that causes disappointment because it is less exciting that was expected or because is happens immediately after a much more interesting or exciting event.
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antecedent
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That which comes before; the antecedent of a pronoun is the noun to which the pronoun refers. (you may be expected to find this relationship on the exam.)
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antithesis
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The opposite of an idea used to emphasize a point; the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas. Hope is the antithesis of despair.
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antithesis, balanced
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A figure of speech in which sharply contrasting ideas are juxtaposed in a balanced or parallel phrase or grammatical structure, as in To err is human; to forgive, divine.
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apostrophe
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A speaker directly addresses something or someone not living that cannot answer back.
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appeal to authority
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One of several appeals strategies; in appealing to authority, the writer refers to expert opinion. (see chapter 6 for more rhetorical strategies.)
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assertion
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The claim or point the author is making.
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bias
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A preference or inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.
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burlesque
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A comic tool of satire, the writer uses ridiculous exaggeration and distortion.
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cadence
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The rhythm of phrases or sentences created through repetitive elements. (See syntax.)
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candor
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Open and honest communication; truthfulness.
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catalog (list)
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A list of details that reinforces a concept. Inductive arguments build to a conclusion based on the collective impression of lists (facts, observations).
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cause and effect
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Essay pattern in which the writer shows the immediate and underlying cause that led to an event or situation.
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circular reasoning
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Type of faulty reasoning in which the writer attempts to support a statement by simply repeating the statement in different or stronger terms.
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circumlocution
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To write around a subject; to write evasively; to say nothing.
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colloquial
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Common or regional language or behavior; referring to local custom sayings.
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concrete versus abstract
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Concrete is observable, measurable, easily perceived versus abstract, in which is vague and not easily defined. An example of a concrete noun is chair. While there are many types of chairs, chairs have one basic purpose. An example of an abstract noun is patriot. There are many ways to define a patriot.
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counterexample
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An exception to a proposed general rule.
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damn with faint praise
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Accolades with words which effectively condemn by seeming to offer praise which is too moderate or marginal to be considered praise at all.
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diatribe
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In contemporary terms, a rant. An explosion of harsh language that typically vilifies or condemns an idea.
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diction, concrete
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The writer chooses language that is concrete, quantifiable, based on facts, easily accepted by the reader, and generally understood. It is the opposite of abstract diction.
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digress, digression
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To move off the point, to veer off onto tangents.
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dilemma
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Basically an either/or situation, typically a moral decision
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dilemma, false
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Simplifying a complex problem into an either/or dichotomy
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discretion
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Refined taste; tact or the ability to avoid embarrassment or distress
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double entendre
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A phrase or saying that has two meanings, one generally being sexual or provocative in nature.
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ellipsis
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A mark or series of marks (…) used in writing to indicate an omission, especially of letters or words.
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empirical, empiricism
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Knowledge based on experience or observation; the view that experience, especially of the senses, is the only source of knowledge.
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episodic
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Appearing in episodes, a long string of short, individual scenes, stories, or sections, rather than focusing on the sustained development of a single plot.
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epigram
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A short quotation or verse that precedes text that sets a tone, provides a setting, or gives some other context for the text.
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epithet
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1) a short, poetic nickname—often in the form of an adjective or adjectival phrase—attached to the normal name. Example: Grey-eyed Athena (Homer); 2) a term used as a descriptive substitute for the name or title of a person such as “The Great Emancipator” for Abraham Lincoln; 3) an abusive or contemptuous word or phrase, commonly a slur.
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ethos
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A speaker or writer’s credibility; his or her character, honesty, commitment to the writing
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euphemism
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A kinder, gentler, less crude or harsh word or phrase to replace one that seems imprudent to use in a particular situation; also a word or phrase that dilutes the meaning of or evades responsibility for a more precise word or phrase (such as “assessment” for “test,” “casualties” for “deaths”)
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exemplar
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An example, especially one that is a model to emulate or particular apt for the situation
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explicit
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Expressly stated; made obvious or evident; clear
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fact vs. fiction
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Facts can be verified; fiction is supposed or imagined, and while it may possess truthful elements, fiction is not actual in that it cannot be verified.
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fallacy, fallacious claim
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An error of reasoning based on faulty use of evidence or incorrect inference
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figurative language
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Language that is not meant to the taken literally; in general: metaphor; specifically: metaphor, simile, personification, metonymy, and more.
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footnote
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An explanatory or documenting reference at the bottom of a page of text.
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hyperbole
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An exaggeration or overstatement—saying more than is warranted by the situation in order to expose reality by comparison; also, one of the main techniques in satire. (See Chapter 15 for more on Satire.)
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hypothetical examples
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Examples based on supposition or uncertainty.
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idealism
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The act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal form; seeing things as they could be or as you wish they were.
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idiom, idiomatic
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A figure of speech; a manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language. (example: Madder than a wet hen.)
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imagery
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Language (descriptions) that evoke the senses.
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imagery, concrete
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Imagery that relies on concrete language. (example: Describe the moon as full and orange instead of ominous, which can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Most people have an understanding of what a full moon is and of the color orange.)
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implicit
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Something that is implied
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induction
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Reasoning by which a general statement is reached on the basis of particular examples
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inference
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An interpretation of the fact s based on available details, drawing conclusions
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ironic commentary
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The commentator or opinion writer does not mean what she writes. The writer’s point is meant to be taken ironically
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juxtapose (juxtapositions)
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To place side by side in order to show similarities or differences. The placement often reveals irony
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list
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See catalog
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maxim
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A saying or expression hat proses to teach or tell a truth
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metaphor
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A comparison of two unlike things in order to show more clearly r in a new way
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metaphor, extended
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The metaphor extends throughout the work or passage, even forming the basis for the entire work. The key to identifying and extended metaphor is length
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mock (mockery)
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To make fun of, to treat with ridicule or derision. A tool of satire. Also, a lesser ignorable form of hero, epic, etc. A mock hero is all that a real hero is not
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musing
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Quiet reflection upon a topic, pondering
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naiveté
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Innocence in perception, lacking of worldly knowledge
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negation(s)
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A negative statement; a statement that is a refusal or denial of some other statement or a proposition
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neutrality
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Not taking a position, staying out of an argument
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onomatopoeia
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Words whose sounds mimic their meaning
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over generalization
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Also known as hasty generalization drawing conclusions from insufficient evidence. (example: all teenagers are sullen and argumentative)
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oxymoron
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A figure of speech in which two contradictory elements are combined for effect, such as “deafening silence” or “random order”
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paradox
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The juxtaposition of incongruous or conflicting ideas that reveals a truth or insight
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parallel structure / syntax
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The use of paralleled elements in sentence or in the structure of an essay or prose passage. Examples: A sentence with successive prepositional phrases uses parallelism. An essay that has four parts each beginning with a question followed by an answer
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parody
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A humorous imitation of an original text meant to ridicule; used as a technique in satire
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pathos
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The quality in literature that appeals to the audience’s emotion
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personification
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To give human attributes or qualities for the purpose of promoting some cause; information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view
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propaganda
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Information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause; information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view
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qualifying a claim / statement
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“to qualify” means to show how a claim can be true in some ways but not true in others
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rebut, rebutting, rebuttal
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To give an opposing point of view or to dismantle and opponent’s argument, showing its flaws
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refutation
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An attack on a opposing view to weaken, invalidate, or make it less credible
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repetition
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Any of a variety of devices that emphasize through repetition. Some example of a repetition device is anaphora, which is the repletion of the same word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences
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rhetorical question
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A figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply
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rhetorical strategy
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Various strategies and appeals that writes use to persuade
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satire (satirize)
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A type of literature (or rhetorical strategy) that exposes idiocy, corruption, or other human folly through humor, exaggeration, and irony
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simile
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A metaphor using like or as in the comparison
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simile, extended
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The simile progress throughout the passage or work and it may provide the basis for the work in itself.
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staccato phrases
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Phrases composed of a series of short, sharp sounds or words.
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suspense
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An aspect of plot or narrative in which the author withholds information creating an urgent need to know in the reader.
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syllogism
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A formula of deductive argument that consists of three propositions: a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.
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symbol
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A thing, idea, or person that stands for something else.
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syntax
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The order of words in a sentence; also the types and structures of sentences.
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thesis
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The main idea of the essay; what the writer hopes to prove is true.
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tone
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The speaker’s (author’s, narrator’s) attitude towards a person, place, idea, or thing; the emotional quality of a phrase or passage.
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tongue-in-cheek
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Humorous or ironic statement not meant to be taken literally.
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truism
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A statement that is obviously true and says nothing new or interesting.
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typography
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Techniques in print (type) used for emphasis: italicizing, bold font, variation in font, etc.
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understatement
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Saying less than is warranted by the situation in order to emphasize reality.
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verb phrase
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The verb and its object and modifiers.
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vernacular
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The ordinary, everyday speech of a region.
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wit
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Clever use of language to amuse the reader, but more to make a point.

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