7 Literary Terms You Definitely Do Not Need To Know

Sometimes knowing a little bit about literary terminology can make your reading more interesting. It can give name and measure to what you are reading and provide insight into what makes for interesting writing.

But the most familiar terms (catharsis, tragic flaw, third-person limited, and the like) are just the tip of the iceberg; there’s a whole hidden world of wonky nomenclature that’s of interest only to the truly afflicted.

Here are nine examples from the spinning molten core of literary jargon. (Warning: examples may or not be complete fabrications).

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Epizeuxis

Definition:
Repetition for emphasis

Example:
As much as it might seem like it, no one cares about your shoes. No one cares about your shoes. No one, no one, no one cares about your shoes.

Periphrasis

Definition:
Ostentatiously exaggerated expression

Example:
I cannot, of clear mind and in conscious, offer a positive recommendation of the aqueaous form of coffea arabica produced by the most assuredly fine and hardworking employees of Folger’s, though it be a cherished staple of so many American comestible purveyors.

Catachresis

Definition:
An unusual, usually contradictory image

Example:
…of all tools used in the shadow of the moon, men are most apt to get out of order.

Antimetabole

Definition:
Reversed word order

Example:
Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Epistrophe

Definition:
Repetition of words at the end of phrases

Example:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Anaphora

Definition:
The repetition of words at the beginning of phrases

Example:
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have.

Brachylogia

Definition:
Fragmented expression

Example:
This is the internet: unkillable memes, one after another, mind-numbing, rage-inducing. A cascade of cat captions, countless horrors, maelstrom of nothingness. Oh at last! A new list! Hope rises.

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