AP Prep Guide Essential TermsAd Hominem Argument: A personal attack on an opponent that draws attention away from the issues under consideration.Allegory: The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. In some allegories, for example, an author may intend the characters to personify an abstraction like hope or freedom. The allegorical meaning usually deals with moral truth or a generalization about human existence.Alliteration: The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words.Allusion: A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place, or work of art. Allusions can be historical, literary, religious, topical, or mythical.Ambiguity: The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.Analogy: A similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them. An analogy can explain something unfamiliar by associating it with or pointing out its similarity to something more familiar. Analogies can also make writing more vivid, imaginative, or intellectually engaging.Antecedent: The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun. Aphorism: A brief statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral principle, in other words, a clearly-worded statement that makes a wise observation about life. Apostrophe: A technique by which a writer addresses an inanimate object, an idea, or a person who is dead or absent. It is an address to someone or something that cannot answer. The effect may add familiarity or emotional intensity. Atmosphere: The mood or feeling that is evoked by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and partly by the author’s choice of objects that are described. Even such elements as a description of the weather can contribute to the atmosphere. Frequently atmosphere foreshadows events. Clause: A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb. An independent, or main, clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. A dependent, or subordinate clause, cannot stand alone as a sentence and must be accompanied by an independent clause. Colloquialism: The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing; it gives a work a conversational or familiar tone
Conceit: A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogybetween seemingly dissimilar objects. A conceit displays intellectual cleverness as a result of the unusual comparison being made.