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A Posteriori: In rhetoric, logic, and philosophy, a belief or proposition is said to be a posteriori if it can only be determined through observation (Palmer 381).
A Priori: In rhetoric, logic, and philosophy, an argument is said to be a priori if its truth can be known or inferred independently of any direct perception. Logic, geometry, and mathematics are usua . . . View Full Definition
A-Stem: A declension of Old English nouns. At one point, this declension had a thematic vowel appearing in front of its inflectional suffixes. The a-stem declension ultimately became the source of t . . . View Full Definition
Ab Ovo: (Latin, 'from the egg') This phrase refers to a narrative that starts 'at the beginning' of the plot, and then moves chronologically through a sequence of events to the tale's conclusion. Th . . . View Full Definition
Abbey Theatre: The center of the Irish Dramatic movment founded in 1899 by W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, built with the express purpose of presenting Irish plays performed by Irish actors. It opened in 190 . . . View Full Definition
Ablaut: Jacob Grimm's term for the way in which Old English strong verbs formed their preterites by a vowel change. This is also called gradation. An example would be the principal parts of Old Engl . . . View Full Definition
Abolitionist Literature: Literature, poetry, pamphlets, or propaganda written in the nineteenth century for the express purpose of condemning slaveholders, encouraging the release and emancipation of slaves, or abol . . . View Full Definition
Abstract Diction - Abstract Imagery: Language that describes qualities that cannot be perceived with the five senses. For instance, calling something pleasant or pleasing is abstract, while calling something yellow or sour is c . . . View Full Definition
Abstract Poem: Verse that makes little sense grammatically or syntactically but which relies on auditory patterns create its meaning or poetic effects, Dame Edith Sitwell popularized the term, considering . . . View Full Definition
Abusio: A type of catachresis known as the 'mixed metaphor.' The term is often used in a derogatory manner. See discussion and examples under catachresis.
Acatalectic: A 'normal' line of poetry with the expected number of syllables in each line, as opposed to a catalectic line (which is missing an expected syllable) or a hypercatalectic line (which has one . . . View Full Definition
Acatalexis: The use of acatalectic lines in poetry--see discussion under catalectic.
Accent: (1) A recognizable manner of pronouncing words--often associated with a class, caste, ethnic group, or geographic region. Thus, Americans might be able to discern a Boston accent or a Texas . . . View Full Definition
Acephalous: From Greek 'headless,' acephalous lines are lines in normal iambic pentameter that contain only nine syllables rather than the expected ten. The first syllable, which is stressed, 'counts' a . . . View Full Definition
Acronym: (From Greek acron + onyma, 'tip or end of a name') A word formed from the initial letters in a phrase. For instance, many caucasians in America are called wasps. In this acronym, the letters . . . View Full Definition
Acronymy: The act of using or creating acronyms. (See above.)
Acrostic: A poem in which the first or last letters of each line vertically form a word, phrase, or sentence. Apart from puzzles in newspapers and magazines, the most common modern versions involve th . . . View Full Definition
Act: A major division in a play. Often, individual acts are divided into smaller units (scenes') that all take place in a specific location. Originally, Greek plays were not divided into acts. Th . . . View Full Definition
Action: A real or fictional event or series of such events comprising the subject of a novel, story, narrative poem, or a play, especially in the sense of what the characters do in such a narrative. . . . View Full Definition
Acute Accent: A diacritical mark indicating primary stress.
Additive Monster: In contrast with the composite monster, mythologists and folklorists use the label additive monster to describe a creature from mythology or legend that has an altered number of body parts r . . . View Full Definition
Adekah: The adekah is a section of Genesis including Genesis 22:1-19, of foundational importance in the three Abrahamic traditions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
Advanced Pronunciation: In linguistics, John Algeo defines this as an early instance of a historical sound change in progress (311). This is the opposite of a retarded pronunciation, in which an older pronunciation . . . View Full Definition
Adventure Novel: Any novel in which exciting events and fast paced actions are more important than character development, theme, or symbolism. Examples include Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo and . . . View Full Definition
Aesc: (also called ash in Anglo-Saxon) A letter in the Old Norse runic alphabet indicating the sound /æ/ as in the word
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