What's in a Poem?

Writers use different literary techniques and sound patterns to create connections with readers. Use this glossary to inspire your budding poet.



Indian girl studying at home

  • Alliteration: Repeating, within a line or phrase, the same initial consonant sound in several neighboring words (The raging river roared.)
  • Antonyms: Words that have opposite meanings
  • Assonance: Repeating, within a line or phrase, the same vowel sounds in words that have different consonants (The mad cat ran.)
  • Blank verse: Poetry that doesn't have a set rhyme scheme but does have a set meter and rhythm
  • Carpe Diem: Latin for "seize the day," a common theme in poetry that emphasizes how life is short so we should make the most of today
  • Echo: Repeating sounds, syllables, words, or lines in a poem
  • Homonym: Words that have the same pronunciation and spelling but different meanings (game of pool, swimming pool)
  • Homophone: Words that are pronounced alike but are spelled differently and usually have different meanings (to, too, and two; write and right)
  • Hyperbole: An extreme exaggeration that emphasizes a point but isn't meant to be taken literally (I'll give you a million dollars for that cookie!)
  • Metaphor: Describing something by comparing it to another object or thing without using "like" or "as" (The moon was a shining jewel.)
  • Onomatopoeia: The use of a word that sounds like the thing it stands for (buzz, sizzle)
  • Personification: A type of metaphor where human characteristics or feelings are given to an animal, object, or idea (the brave tree)
  • Simile: A way of describing something by using "like" or "as" to compare it to something else (Her eyes were like stars.)
  • Synonyms: Words that have the same or nearly the same meanings
Subject Refreshers
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Poetry Writing
Word Origins and Usage