What Is Rhyme? | Definition & Examples

Rhyme in literature is using words with identical or similar final sounds, like “cat” and “hat.” Typically, that happens at the end of a line of text, but it can also occur in the middle.

Rhyme example
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

In these first lines of William Shakespeare’s famous “Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” rhyme occurs at the end of the line.

Because rhyme adds a musical quality to a text, it also makes it more memorable and pleasant to the ear. Due to this, rhyme is a common device in poetry and songwriting.

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What Is Assonance? | Definition & Examples

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in two or more nearby words, such as “dumb luck” or “squeaky wheel.” Assonance helps to create a sense of flow between words that can make phrases catchy and easy to remember. Because of this, we often find it in poetry, prose, and song lyrics.

Example of assonance
“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”

This phrase from the musical My Fair Lady is used as a speech exercise to help the protagonist “improve” her accent.

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What Is Sibilance? | Definition, Meaning & Examples

Sibilance is the repetition of “s” sounds in a series of neighboring words, such as “silent whispers in the shadows.” This deliberate repetition creates a hissing sound that contributes to the musicality and mood of a text. Sibilance is used in poetry, prose, and song lyrics.

Sibilance

Sibilance examples
The squirrel shook the snow off its coat.

Her sister fell off the seesaw and into the sand.

Snails hide their slimy bodies in their shells.

Sam felt refreshed thanks to the ocean breeze.

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Double Entendre | Definition, Meaning & Examples

A double entendre is a phrase that can be understood in two different ways, one of which is obvious and innocent while the other may require some interpretation. The second meaning is usually sexually suggestive or inappropriate in some way.
Double entendre example
In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, there is a famous example of a double entendre. In Act 3, Scene 2, Hamlet engages in a wordplay with Ophelia:

Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
Ophelia: No, my lord!
Hamlet: I mean, my head upon your lap?
Ophelia: Ay, my lord.

Here, Hamlet’s first line can be interpreted as either “shall I rest my head on your knee?” or “shall we sleep together?” When she refuses, he assures her he only meant the former, not the latter.

Double entendres are often used to communicate hidden meaning and inject humor in everyday conversation, movies, TV shows, and literature.

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What Is Symbolism? | Definition & Examples

Symbolism involves using a word or object to represent something beyond its literal meaning. For example, a light bulb is an electric device that can also stand for sudden insight or innovation.

Symbolism example
Some symbols are easy to interpret because they have been associated with specific meanings for a long time. For example, a heart symbolizes love and affection, a dove is a symbol of peace, and a globe with Wi-Fi waves signifies an available wireless internet connection.

We encounter symbolism in various aspects of life, including literature, art, and everyday experiences.

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What Is a Paradox? | Definition & Examples

A paradox is a statement or situation that seems absurd initially but can be true or make sense upon further reflection. Because a paradox invites deeper contemplation, it can be used to challenge conventional thinking.

Paradox example
A well-known paradox is the phrase “The only constant in life is change.” This may sound illogical because change and consistency are opposite concepts. However, this phrase encapsulates a deeper truth: that life is characterized by continual change.

Paradoxes are often used in literature, philosophy, and logic.

What Is a Paradox?

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Paraprosdokian | Meaning, Definition & Examples

A paraprosdokian is a sentence or statement with an unexpected and often humorous ending. The surprising twist makes us think and reinterpret the entire phrase.

Paraprosdokians are often used in satire and comedy because they keep the audience engaged and entertained.

Paraprosdokian

Paraprosdokian example
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” —Groucho Marx

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Play on Words | Examples, Meaning & Definition

Play on words is the clever manipulation of language based on the sound and meanings of words. It is a form of verbal wit intended to amuse or surprise an audience. Due to this, we often encounter it in literature, advertising, and everyday conversations.

Play on words example: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
“You see the earth takes twenty-four hours to turn round on its axis

“Talking of axes,” said the Duchess, “chop off her head!”

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What Is Juxtaposition? | Definition & Examples

Juxtaposition is placing two objects, images, or ideas side by side to create a certain effect or make a point. The fact that two things are placed together highlights their differences and similarities, creating contrast. Juxtaposition is common in literature, visual arts, and public speaking.

Juxtaposition example
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness […]

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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What Is Paronomasia? | Definition & Examples

Paronomasia is a type of play on words. It involves the use of words that are similar in sound or appearance but different in meaning, like “blue” and “blew.”

Because of the possible interpretations, paronomasia creates ambiguous, funny, or thought-provoking sentences. Due to this, we often encounter it in comedy, theatrical plays, and news headlines.

Paronomasia example
“Baking Bad: Police say edible forms of pot hit new high”—this headline about the increase in edible marijuana consumption uses paronomasia twice.

“Bake” or “baked” is a slang term for drug intoxication, and “baking” sounds like “breaking,” an allusion to Breaking Bad, a popular TV series about the illegal drug trade. “High” has a double meaning: it means feeling euphoric due to drugs or something being great in quantity.

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