Literary Terms Glossary

By: Alicia Virthe

Figurative Language- The literal meaning of a word is its definition as you would find it in a dictionary. Figurative language uses words in some way other than literal meanings to make a comparison, add emphasis, or say something in a fresh and creative way.

Examples of figurative language include:

Alliteration- When two or more words are repeated in the same sound. (ex. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.)

Hyperbole- an exaggeration. (ex. It took a million years for the car to be fixed)

Idiom- An exaggeration that cannot be understood from the meanings of its unusual words. (ex. The cat is out of the bag; it's raining cats and dogs.)

Imagery- Language that portrays sensory experiences or experiences of the five senses: taste, touch, hear, smell, and sight. (ex. You could hear the popping, sizzling, and crackling of the bacon being cooked.)

Metaphors- Comparing two things without saying like or as (ex. He was/is a giraffe, meaning he is so tall.)

Simile- Comparing two things USING like or as. (ex. he was LIKE a giraffe; he was AS tall AS a giraffe.)

Onomatopoeia- The use of words to imitate the sounds of what they describe. (ex. buzz, click, tick tock, splash, swoosh, etc;)

Personification- Describing nonhuman animals, objects, and ideas as though they possess human qualities or emotions. (ex. My alarm clock burst to life in the morning.)


Here is a way to remember figurative language:

S.O.P.H.I.M.I.A (sophie-me-a)

Simile, Onomatopoeia, Personification, Hyperbole, Imagery, Metaphor, Idiom, and Alliteration

Direct Characterization

In direct characterization, the write or a narrator tells the reader what the character is like. (ex. James is popular) A way you remember this is just by being straightforward and describing the character in a short and direct sentence.

Indirect Characterization

Indirect characterization is when the author shows the reader what the character is like through the characters looks, what the character does, thinks, says, and how the character affects other characters. (ex. James was walking through the halls and people gave him high fives.)A way you could remember this is MORE detail and description, instead of going straightforward.