Poetry Vocabulary

To ensure that everyone has the same ability to understand my jargon, I’m going to provide a list of those words which I believe need to be defined. This will be my connotation of the words as well as my general understanding of the denotation. If you don’t understand that, look up connotation and denotation in the list.

Can’t find a word on this list? Write me a comment anywhere and I’ll add it as soon as I’m able.

Alliteration: Stacking more than one of the same beginning syllable sounds close together.

Allusion: Creating a reference to another piece of literature, history, or cultural iconography, basically something outside the poem, within a poem. This could be starting with familiar words like “I have a dream …” or something as hidden as the use of an apple.

Breath: The variety of a body of work. The breath of the work is composed of the types of extremes the work can handle.

Beat: The way in which a poem’s syllables are stressed.

Cold Read: This is when you read a piece of work without any expectation of what comes next. If you are reading the poem and the next lines or phrases are still familiar to you, then it isn’t a cold read.

Connotation: The insinuation of a word, or the unspoken agreed difference between that word and a word which means the same thing or similar thing in a dictionary or thesaurus. Also known as the difference between synonyms.

Clarity: With poetry this means the ability for the readers to understand the message, story, or point of the poem.

Denotation: The dictionary definition of a word.

End Rhyme: This is those rhymes which happen only at the end of a line of poetry. They are marked in marking up by sequential alphabetical letters where lowercase are dissimilar words, also known as not the same word, and capital letters mark refrains, or, the use of the same word.

Enjambment: Having more than one sentence on a single line, also seen as ending a sentence in the middle of a line.

Flow: This is the syncopation of the poem, and how smoothly it reads.

Foot: The pattern in which a poem’s syllables are stressed such as iambic, monosyllabic, torchaic, etc. For more information look up Poetic Meters.

Imagery: The use of descriptions, metaphors, similes, allusion, adjectives, adverbs, and so forth in a poem to create a sense of scene and setting. This is also the umbrella term for talking about poetic devices which supply images to the reader, such as metaphors, similes, etc. Also the term used to discuss the types of concrete objects presented in a poem, and the way in which the poet creates those images.

Internal Rhyme: Rhyming word pairs which has one or more of the pair within the middle of a line. This does not require remaining on one line or in one stanza, but it could be any words which rhyme throughout the entire poem.

Metaphor: An example where something is explained through the use of something familiar, such as a direct substitution. Metaphors ask the reader to ignore the fact that it is a substitute and often work best when using tangible objects for the substituted thing. Example: I melted in the oven of the outside world.

Meter: The number of feet within a single line of a poem, such as monometer, dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, etc. For more information look up Poetic Meters.

Rhyme: The end sound of a word.  The nucleus+coda of the last syllable of a word. When used in matching pairs, it creates a rhyme. Example: cat and bat.

Simile: An example where something is explained through the use of something familiar such as an indirect substitute. Similes do not ask the reader to ignore the fact that it is a substitute. Example: Standing outside was like standing in an oven.

Slant Rhyme: When the nucleus/coda of a syllable matches, but the coda/nucleus does not. Also known as when the vowel or consonant sound matches, but the neighboring sound does not.

Syncopation: The rhythm or beat a poem has when read aloud.

Syllable: The smallest sound-set available in language composed of more than just a single noise. Composed of a strong middle sound, known as a nucleus, and potentially an onset and coda. Any vowel is always a nucleus, while consonant sounds can only sometimes be a nucleus when they are strong and allow for lots of wind passage such as nn and mm. An onset and coda are the beginning [onset] and ending [coda] of a syllable sound-set. Onsets are more favorable than codas as we naturally wish to place consonants in easier places to hear, onsets. Codas are last-ditched attempts to include sounds which cannot go in an onset category or a nucleus of their own. The nucleus and coda make up the rime. For more information look up Syllable Counting and/or Syllables.

Turn: A poetic device in which the writer creates a surprise ending.

Work: Pieces of literature, art, or collection. This could refer to a specific poem, or all poems by the author if it is pluralized.