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Literature Glossary

Don’t be an oxymoron. Know your literary terms.

Over 200 literary terms, Shmooped to perfection.

Alliteration

Definition:

Open up your ears, Shmoopers. Alliteration is a term used to describe the repetition of initial consonant sounds. More simply put, alliteration is what happens when words that begin with the same consonant (the letters that aren't vowels) get all smushed together to great effect. As in, "Carol constantly craves cornflakes." As you may have guessed, you'll find alliteration in many a tongue twister, but it's also just about everywhere in literature, too.

For a sample of the sonic power of alliteration in literature, check out our analysis of alliteration in Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Pied Beauty" and Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Ligeia".