Glossary of Literary Terms

To help with precise analysis, and NOT for showing off!


Allegory comes from Greek words 'allos' (other) and 'agoreuein' (to speak in assembly) - ['agora' meaning 'market place']. An allegory is a narrative or artistic form (a painting, for example) in which a character, place or event can be interpreted as representing a feature in real life.


Tmesis comes from the Greek word meaning a 'cutting'. The term describes when one word (or phrase) cuts into another word. (In some definitions the word being cut into should be a compound word - so that there is a natural point for the incision. It is usually used for comic effect, but not always, as the examples show:


Ekphrasis is a Greek word meaning 'description'. An ekphrastic poem, or passage in prose, is one which contains a vivid description of a scene or a work of art. A famous and obvious example is John Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'.