(Terms most applicable to AP Literature are in bold.)
Abstract Language-Language describing ideas and qualities rather than observable or specific things, people, or places. The observable or "physical" is usually described in concrete language.
Ad homonym—Latin for "against the man." When a writer personally attacks his or her opponents instead of their arguments
Ad populum—Latin for "to the crowd." A fallacy of logic in which the widespread occurrence of something is assumed to make it true.
Allegory—A narrative or description having a second meaning beneath the surface one. A story, fictional or nonfiction, in which characters, things, and events represent qualities or concepts. The interaction of these characters, things, events is meant to reveal an abstraction or a truth. These characters, etc. may be symbolic of the ideas referred to.
Alliteration—The repetition at close intervals of initial identical consonant sounds. Or, vowel sounds in successive words or syllables that repeat.
Allusion—An indirect reference to something (usually a literary text) with which the reader is expected to be familiar. Allusions are usually literary, historical, Biblical, or mythological.
Ambiguity—An event or situation that may be interpreted in more than one way. Also, the manner of expression of such an event or situation may be ambiguous. Artful language may be ambiguous. Unintentional ambiguity is usually vagueness.
Anachronism—Assignment of something to a time when it was not in existence, e.g. the watch Merlyn wore in The Once and Future King.
Analogy—An analogy is a comparison to a directly parallel case. When a writer uses an analogy, he or she argues that a claim reasonable for one case is reasonable for the analogous case.
Anaphora—Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row. This device is a deliberate form of repetition and helps make the writer's point more coherent.
Anecdote—A brief recounting of a relevant episode. Anecdotes are often inserted into fictional or nonfiction texts as a way of developing a point or injecting humor.
Angst—A term used in existential criticism to describe both the individual and the collective anxiety-neurosis of the period following the Second World War. This feeling of anxiety, dread, or anguish is notably present in the works of writers like Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.
Annotation—Explanatory notes added to a text to explain, cite sources, or give bibliographic data (by the author or student).
Antithesis—A balancing of two opposite or contrasting words, phrases, or clauses.
Apostrophe—An address to the dead as if living; to the inanimate as if animate; to the absent as if present; to the unborn as if alive. Examples: "O Julius Caesar thou are mighty yet; thy spirit walks abroad," or "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll."
Archetype—A term borrowed by psychologist Carl Jung who described archetypes as "primordial images" formed by repeated experiences in the lives of our ancestors, inherited in the "collective unconscious" of the human race and expressed in myths, religion, dreams, fantasies, and literature. These "images" of character, plot pattern, symbols recur in literature and evoke profound emotional responses in the reader because they resonate with an image already existing in our unconscious mind, e.g. death, rebirth.
Argumentation—Exploring of a problem by investigating all sides of it; persuasion through reason. One of the four chief forms of discourse, the others being exposition, narration, and description. The purpose of argumentation is to convince by establishing the truth of falsity of a proposition.
Aside—A dramatic convention by which an actor directly addresses the audience but it is not supposed to be heard by the other actors on the stage.
Assonance—Repetition of a vowel sound within two or more words in close proximity.