Flashback to English 101! If you're like most of us, some of those terms you learned back in high school can be hard to remember now. Here is a list of common writing terms defined.
Allegory--using a specific character or situation in your writing to express a more general truth
Alliteration--a series of words in a sentence all beginning with the same sound. (Remember the old tongue-twister "Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers"?)
Analogy--a comparison showing like parts of two unlike things. Remember those old tests? (foot is to person as paw is to cat, for instance)
Anaphora--several consecutive sentences starting with the same group of words. (President Bush's speech is a good example: "We will not tire. We will not falter. We will not fail."
Antonyms--opposites (day and night, for instance)
Cliche--similar to a dead metaphor; an expression that has been widely overused. (Like saying something cost "an arm and a leg". Ugh!)
Denouement--French, defined by Merriam-Webster as the final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work.
Double Entendre--a phrase that can be interpreted in two different ways. Usually one of the meanings is slightly "off color". Thank you Erika for these examples!
Euphemism--a phrase used in place of something disagreeable or upsetting ("passed on" instead of died)
Homographs--words that are spelled alike but pronounced differently and/or mean different things (Sahara desert and to desert someone, for instance)
Homonyms--words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings (baby; an infant, and baby; to coddle, for instance)
Hyperbole--deliberate exaggeration (scared to death)
Metaphor--this is similar to a simile, but more direct. One word is used directly in place of another to suggest a relationship between them. Usually a metaphor says one thing is something else. (Rachel is a peach, for instance)
Dead Metaphor--a metaphor that has lost its "force" through overuse. Most often not even recognized as a metaphor any more (being "over your head", for instance)
Mixed Metaphor--an inconsistent metaphor ("That's water over the bridge", for instance; a cross of "water under the bridge" and "water over the dam")
Onomatopoeia--a word that sounds like what it is (hiss, for instance)
Oxymoron--a phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings--"virtual reality", for instance
Personification--giving living attributes to an inanimate object (leaves dancing in the wind)
Simile--the similarities of two separate things are shown through a comparison using the words like or as. (lips as red as cherry wine, for instance)
Synonyms--words with the same meaning (happy and glad, for instance)
Voice--in writing, how you "sound" on the page. Your voice is your style, your tone, your unique way of telling a story.
Widows & Orphans--In publishing lingo, a "widow" is the last line of a paragraph, printed alone at the top of a page. An "orphan" is the first line of a paragraph, printed alone at the bottom of a page. Many word processors offer features to control these in your documents.
Got a term that should be added to this list? Email me!