28 Common Literary Devices You Should Know About (2023)

Whether you're improving your writing skills or preparing for a big English test, it's important to be aware of literary resources. But there are dozens of them, plus literary elements and techniques, and things can be more confusing than a simile embedded in a metaphor!

To help you become a pro at spotting literary devices, we've put together this guide to some of the most common. We integrate a one-stop-shopword listwith meanings of literary devices and examples to illustrate their use.

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What are Literary Resources?

"Literary device" is a broad term for any technique, style, and strategy an author uses to improve his writing. With thousands of years of literature in hundreds of different languages, humanity has accumulated quite a few of these writing instruments that are constantly evolving.

Literary devices can contain general elements that appear repeatedly in a literary work, as well as specific and precise treatment of words that are used only once. In reality, a literary device is anything that can transform boring or tasteless texts into rich, engaging prose.

>>Read more:What kind of writer are you?

Literary means versus literary elements versus literary techniques

There are some competing terms when it comes to literary devices, so let's get that straight.literary elementsJliterary techniquesBoth are literary devices.

literary elementsThese are literary devices that run throughout the play, such as B. Setting, theme, mood, and allegory..

literary techniquesThese are literary devices that deal with individual words and phrases, such as euphemisms and alliteration..

How to identify literary aids in reading

It is not necessary to understand literary techniques to have fungood book. Certain resources such as personification, onomatopoeia andAnthropomorphismThey're still fun to read, even if you don't know them by their real names.

However, identifying literary resources allows you to reflect on the artistry of a text and understand the author's motivations. The more literary devices you recognize, the better you will understand writing as a whole. By recognizing literary assets, you can uncover nuances and piece together a greater meaning that might otherwise have eluded you.

To recognize literary aids in reading, it is best to familiarize yourself with them as much as possible. The first step is knowing what to look for. After that, you just need to practice reading different works and styles. With experience, you will instinctively recognize literary tricks without compromising your enjoyment or concentration while reading.

How to use literary resources in writing

To use literary devices in your own writing, you must first recognize them "in nature." Read the list below to find out what you're looking for and pay close attention as you read. See how literary devices are used in the hands of experienced authors.

If you want to experiment with literary devices yourself, the most important tip is to use them naturally. Too many literary devices stacked on top of each other are distracting, so it's best to use them sparingly and in the most impactful moments, like a cymbal strike! (See what we did there?)

New authors often supplement their texts with literary devices in order to come across as better authors. The truth is that the misuse of literary devices is more conspicuous than their proper use. Wait for a time when a literary device can emerge organically, rather than force them where they don't belong.

>>Read more:Creative Writing 101: Everything you need to get started

28 different literary devices and their meaning.


The allegories arestoriesrepresenting something completely different, such as a significant historical event or ideology, to illustrate a deeper meaning. Sometimes the stories are completely fictional and only loosely connected to their source, but sometimes individual characters act as fictional stand-ins for real historical figures.

Examples: door George OrwellFarm yard, an allegory about the 1917 Russian Revolution, is one of the most famous allegories ever written; A more modern example is the animated filmzootopia, an allegory about the prejudices of modern society.


Alliteration is the literary technique of using a series of words beginning with the same letter or sound for poetic or whimsical effect.

Examples: Many of Stan Lee's iconic cartoon characters have alliterative names: Peter Parker, Matthew Murdock, Reed Richards, and Bruce Banner.


An allusion is an indirect reference to another character, event, location, or work of art that exists outside of the story. Allusions to famous subjects are made in such a way as to require no explanation; The reader should already understand the reference.

Example: The title of Haruki Murakami's novel.1T84It is itself a reference to George Orwell's novel.1984. The Japanese word for the number nine is pronounced the same way as the English letter.Q.


Reinforcement is the technique of embellishing a simple sentence with more details to increase its meaning.

Example: “One who has good thoughts can never be ugly. You may have a crooked nose, a crooked mouth, a double chin, and protruding teeth, but if you have good thoughts, they will shine on your face like the sunbeams, and you will always look beautiful." -Roald Dahl,The idiots


An anagram is a word puzzle where the author rearranges the letters of a word or phrase to form a new word or phrase.

Example: Insilence of the innocent, antagonist Hannibal Lector attempted to fool the FBI by naming the suspect Louis Friend, which the protagonist realized was an anagram for "iron sulfide," the technical term for fool's gold.


An analogy compares one thing to another to explain a similarity that may not be easy to see.

Example: Inthe dragons of Eden,Carl Sagan compares the entire history of the universe to a single Earth year to better contextualize the occurrence of major events; That is, the Earth was formed on September 9, man first appeared at 10:30 pm. December 31.


Anthropomorphism occurs when non-human things, such as animals or objects, behave like humans, displaying traits such as language, thoughts, and complex emotions, and sometimes even wearing clothes and standing.

Example: Although most fairy tales are about animals behaving like humans,Beauty and the BeastMovies humanize household objects: talking clocks, singing teapots and more.


Antithesis juxtaposes two opposing and polarizing feelings to emphasize them.

Example: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." — Neil Armstrong


The chiasmus literary technique takes two parallel sentences and reverses the word order of a sentence to create a larger meaning.

Example: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." -John F. Kennedy (after Khalil Gibran)

known word

Slang is the use of colloquial, colloquial language, including jargon, in formal writing to make dialogues appear more realistic and authentic. He regularly rewrites words and adds apostrophes to clarify pronunciation.

Example: "How are you'?" earlyFriendsCharacter Joey Tribbiani.

I speak about it

When paraphrasing, the author deliberately uses excessive words and complicated sentence structures to deliberately complicate its meaning. In other words, it means that you deliberately write long and confusing texts.

Example: InShrek the third, Pinocchio uses paraphrasesto avoid an honest answer to the prince's question.


An epigraph is an independent and pre-existing quote that introduces a work and usually has some thematic or symbolic relevance.

Example: “Becoming a beast takes away the pain of being human,” a quote by Samuel Johnson that opens Hunter S. Thompson's book.Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a novel that delves deeply into substance abuse and escapism.


A euphemism is a soft, innocent word or phrase that replaces a harsh, unpleasant, or hurtful word out of sympathy or politeness.

Example: Euphemisms such as "deceased" and "diminutive" are quite common in everyday parlance, but a good example in literature comes fromHarry Potter, where the wizarding community calls the villain Voldemort "He-Who-Must Not-Be-Named" for fear of summoning him.


Foreshadowing is the technique of using subtle parallels to hint at future events in a story, usually to build suspense or pique the reader's curiosity.

Example: inThe empire strikes backLuke Skywalker's vision of himself in the mask of Darth Vader foreshadows the later revelation that Vader is in fact Luke's father.


Hyperbole is the use of hyperbole to add force to what is being said, often to an unrealistic or unlikely degree.

Example: "I had to wait ten days, an eternity, at the train station." - Jose Conradheart of darkness


Pictures refer to writings that appeal to the reader's senses with descriptive elements.choice of wordsto create a more vivid and realistic picture of the scene in your mind.

Example: “The barn was very big. He was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure. It smelled of the sweat of tired horses and the wonderfully sweet breath of patient cows. It often gave off a kind of peaceful scent, as if nothing bad could ever happen to the world again.” -MY. B. white,Charlotte's web


Similar to an analogy, ametaphoris an idiom that compares two different things to show their similarities by pointing out that they are the same.


"All the world is a stage,

And all men and women are but players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And a man of his time plays many roles. . ."

-William Shakespeare,According to your taste


The mood of a story is the emotional response the writer is looking for. A writer not only sets the mood through plot and characters, but also through the tone and aspects he describes.

Example: I am horror novelDraculaby Bram Stoker, the literary setting of the vampires is terrifying and sinister, but in the comic strip movieWhat we do in the shadows, the literary environment of vampires is friendly and cheerful.


A motif is a recurring element in a story that has symbolic or conceptual meaning. It is closely related tohem, but motives are specific objects or events while subjects are abstract ideas.

Example: And ShakespeareMacbethLady Macbeth's obsession with washing her hands is a motif that symbolizes her guilt.

For the Lautmaler

unusual literary termOnomatopoeia refers to words that represent sounds and whose pronunciation resembles those sounds.

Example: The word buzz, meaning "buzzing bee," is actually pronounced like the sound a bee makes.


An oxymoron combines two contradictory words to give them a deeper, more poetic meaning.

Example: "Leaving is such a sweet pain." -William Shakespeare,Romeo in Julia


Like an oxymoron, a paradox combines two conflicting ideas in a way that seems illogical, but still makes sense.

Example: "I only know one thing, and that is that I know nothing." -Socrates on PlatoPardon


Personification is when an author metaphorically attributes human characteristics to non-human things, such as the weather or inanimate objects. Personification is purely figurative, while anthropomorphism assumes that these things actually behave like people.

Example:The heart wants what it wants... or it doesn't care. . .” —Emily Dickinson


Portmanteau is the literary art form that consists of merging two words into a new word with a hybrid meaning.

Example: Words like “blog” (web + record), “paratrooper” (parachute + soldier), “motel” (motorcycle + hotel), and “telethon” (telephone + marathon) are all common English acronyms.


Puns are sort offunny punthis includesHomophone(different words are pronounced the same) or two different meanings of the same word.

Example: “Time flies by. The fruit flies like a banana. — Groucho Marx


Satire is a style of writing that uses parody and exaggeration to criticize the shortcomings of society or human nature.

Example: The works of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's travels) and Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)are known for their satire.A more modern example is the television show.Zuidpark, which often satirizes society by tackling current events.


Like metaphors, similes compare two different things to emphasize their similarities. However,the difference between similes and metaphorsIt is true that comparisons use the words "like" or "like" to weaken the context and make it clear that it is only a comparison.

Example: “Time has not stood still. It engulfed me, it washed me away as if I were nothing more than a woman of sand, left too close to the water by a carefree child. —Margaret Atwood,The girl's story


Closely related to motif, symbolism means that objects, characters, actions or other recurring elements in a story take on a deeper meaning and/or represent an abstract concept.

Example: A J.R.R. TolkienLord of the Ringstrilogy (andFrom Hobbit), Sauron's ring is meant to symbolize the evil, corruption and greed that the common people, symbolized by Frodo, must oppose.


Tone refers to the language and phrasing an author uses to describe their subject, such as a playful tone when describing children playing, or a hostile tone when describing the appearance of a villain. If you are confusedToon versus stemmingThe tone mainly refers to individual aspects and details, while the atmosphere refers to the emotional attitude of the whole work.

Example: Narrated by J.D. Salinger from the first-person perspective.Catcher in the Ryeuses the teen protagonist's fearful and sardonic tone to depict the character's mindset, including slang and profanity.


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