Alliteration Examples, Definition, Meaning: What is Alliteration?

Alliteration Definition

alliteration [əˌlɪtəˈreɪʃən]

n

(Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the use of the same consonant (consonantal alliteration) or of a vowel, not necessarily the same vowel (vocalic alliteration), at the beginning of each word or each stressed syllable in a line of verse, as in around the rock the ragged rascal ran

[from Medieval Latin alliterātiō (from Latin al- (see ad-) + litera letter), on the model of obliterātiō obliteration]


Noun 1. alliteration - use of the same consonant at the beginning of each stressed syllable in a line of verse; "around the rock the ragged rascal ran"

beginning rhyme, head rhyme, initial rhyme

rhyme, rime - correspondence in the sounds of two or more lines (especially final sounds)

The repetition of an initial consonant sound, as in "a peck of pickled peppers."

Adjective: alliterative.

Pronunciation: ah-lit-err-RAY-shun

Also Known As: head rhyme, initial rhyme, front rhyme


As J.R.R. Tolkien observed, alliteration "depends not on letters but on sounds." Thus the phrase know-nothing is alliterative, but climate change is not.*

* Not everyone agrees with Tolkien. For example, in his book An Appeal to Reason (2008), British politician Nigel Lawson states his preference for "the term 'global warming' rather than the attractively alliterative weasel words, 'climate change.'"

Etymology:

From the Latin, "putting letters together"

Examples:

  • "You'll never put a better bit of butter on your knife."
    (advertising slogan for Country Life butter)

  • "A moist young moon hung above the mist of a neighboring meadow."
    (Vladimir Nabokov, Conclusive Evidence, 1951)

  • "The efficient Baxter bicycled broodingly to Market Blandings for tobacco."
    (P.G. Wodehouse, Something Fresh, 1915)

  • "Guinness is good for you."
    (advertising slogan)

  • "A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts!"
    (Albert Brooks as Aaron Altman in Broadcast News, 1987)

  • "The soul selects her own society."
    (Emily Dickinson)

  • "The Gramercy Gym is two flights up some littered, lightless stairs that look like a mugger's paradise, though undoubtedly they are the safest stairs in New York."
    (Edward Hoagland, "Heart's Desire," 1973)

  • "[S]he had no room for gaiety and ease. She had spent the golden time in grudging its going."
    (Dorothy Parker, "The Lovely Leave")

  • "The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
    The furrow followed free;
    We were the first that ever burst
    Into that silent sea."
    (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner")

  • "Forget the most obvious problem with collegiate calorie counting, that studying Kierkegaard or Conrad after a dinner of seitan and soy chips would render even robust stomachs seasick, sometimes outright ill. And I won’t harp on the clear link between vigorous salad consumption and sulkiness."
    (Marisha Pessl, "Seize the Weight." The New York Times, Oct. 6, 2006)

  • "I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me."
    (George Orwell, "A Hanging," 1931)

  • "Miss Twining teaches tying knots
    In neckerchiefs and noodles,
    And how to tell chrysanthemums
    From miniature poodles."
    (Dr Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, and Lane Smith, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! Knopf, 1998)

  • "The verdict last week on Karen Matthews and her vile accomplice is also a verdict on our broken society.

    "The details are damning. A fragmented family held together by drink, drugs and deception. An estate where decency fights a losing battle against degradation and despair."
    (David Cameron, "There Are 5 Million People on Benefits in Britain: How Do We Stop Them Turning Into Karen Matthews?" Daily Mail, Dec. 8, 2008)

  • "In a somer seson, whan soft was the sonne . . ."
    (William Langland, Piers Plowman, 14th century)

  • "The sibilant sermons of the snake as she discoursed upon the disposition of my sinner's soul seemed ceaseless."
    (Gregory Kirschling, The Gargoyle, 2008)

  • "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
    (Henry David Thoreau, Walden)

  • "The wind had blown off, leaving a loud, bright night, with wings beating in the trees and a persistent organ sound as the full bellows of the earth blew the frogs full of life."
    (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

  • "Pompey Pipped at the Post as Pippo Pounces"
    (sports headline, Daily Express, Nov. 28, 2008)

  • "His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."
    (James Joyce, "The Dead," 1914)

  • "Up the aisle, the moans and screams merged with the sickening smell of woolen black clothes worn in summer weather and green leaves wilting over yellow flowers."
    (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1970)

  • "My style is public negotiations for parity, rather than private negotiations for position."
    (Jesse Jackson)

  • "[Alliteration is] a device that many writers employ to create a treasure trove of tried-and-true, bread-and-butter, bigger-and-better, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, do-or-die, footloose-and-fancy-free, larger-than-life, cream-of-the-crop titles."
    (Edwin Newman, quoted by Jim Fisher in The Writer's Quotebook: 500 Authors on Creativity, Craft, and the Writing Life. Rutgers Univ. Press, 2006)

Observations:

  • "Like many another literary device, alliteration is best used sparingly, serendipity being a better inspiration--as in the Daily Mirror's LEGGY LOVELY LANDS UP LEGLESS--than midnight oil. It is to be doubted whether Cigarette-sucking Henry Cecil was sending up smoke signals before a steward's inquiry cleared his flying filly came to a Star sports sub in a frenzied flash."
    (Keith Waterhouse, Waterhouse on Newspaper Style, rev. ed. Revel Barker, 2010)

  • "Alliteration, or front rhyme, has been traditionally more acceptable in prose than end-rhyme but both do the same thing--capitalize on chance. . . . This powerful glue can connect elements without logical relationship."
    (Richard Lanham, Analyzing Prose. Continuum, 2003)

  • "[T]here are only about 20 consonant sounds in English, and most of them get repeated fairly often anyway. If you find a repetition of /s/ in a text, it may go unnoticed in normal reading, because /s/ is very common in English. So when writers want to draw attention to sounds, they are more likely to use certain sounds, and place them in certain prominent positions. Some sounds stand out more than others--for instance those that are made by stopping the airstream completely with your tongue or lips and then releasing the air. The sounds in this class are made for the letters p, b, m, n, t, d, k, and g . . .."
    (Greg Myers, Words in Ads. Routledge, 1994)

The Lighter Side of Alliteration:

  • "I love alliteration. I love, love, love it. Alliteration just makes everything sound fantastic. I genuinely can't think of anything with matching initials that I don't like: Green Goodness, Hemel Hempstead, Bum Bags, Monster Mash, Krispy Kreme, Dirty Dozen, Peter Purves, Est Est Est, the SS, World Wide Web, Clear Cache.

    "My show would combine all that was good about its alliterative brothers listed above. It was to be called 'Daily Daytime Debate.' And as far as I was concerned that was absolutely final. I'd changed it once and I was not going to change it again.

    "In the end, it was changed to 'Mid-Morning Matters' . . .."
    (Alan Partridge, with Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons, Steve Coogan and Armanda Iannucci, I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan. HarperCollins, 2011)

Definition of ALLITERATION

: the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and woolly, threatening throngs) —called also head rhyme, initial rhyme

Examples of ALLITERATION

  1. As far as sound repetition goes, I don't have any principles. I try to stay away from heavy alliteration and other pyrotechnics because I think they detract from the sense of the poem and blur the imagery. —Maxine Kumin, “A Questionnaire,” 1977, in To Make a Prairie, 1979

alliteration

noun

Repetition of consonant sounds in two or more neighbouring words or syllables. A frequently used poetic device, it is often discussed with assonance (the repetition of stressed vowel sounds within two or more words with different end consonants) and consonance (the repetition of end or medial consonants).


What is Alliteration?

Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of each or most of the words in a sentence. The easiest way to use alliteration would be to repeat the starting letter of the words.

Examples – Using alliteration with a letter

For a more complex form of alliteration you can use the first syllable of the words, using the same sound to make the alliteration effect.

Example – Using alliteration with the first syllable

Alliteration is used in poetry to create different effects, either for a reflective description or to create more drama or danger.

Examples of Alliteration in Poems and Poetry
Poems with alliteration examples can be found by the most famous poets including Milton, Frost and Wordsworth.

  • Behemoth, biggest born of earth, upheaved His vastness
    by John Milton

  • Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields
    by Alfred Tennyson

  • Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
    Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step. . .
    by Robert Frost

Alliteration Sentence Examples

  • You can write a poem using alliteration, where each line has three or four words beginning with the same letter or letters, as in around the rock the ragged rascal ran.

  • Frankly, i am stunned that there isn't more alliteration about.

  • Alliteration in poems and comment on the effect this has to the overall poem.

  • Schemes, which include alliteration, chiasmus, etc., have more to do with expression.

  • This is called alliteration and it's a useful tool in the poet's tool box.

  • Hopkins also employed alliteration in many of his poems.

  • A question we do know the answer to would sound like this: why does the poet use alliteration?

What is an alliterative sentence?

An alliterative sentence uses two or more words beginning with the same letter, or with the same consonant or vowel sound, ideally in close proximity.

Examples :

"The flying group consisted of a dozen dauntless daredevils."
"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."
"The known cause of death was nominally pneumonia."

Alliteration is a literary device that emphasizes on repetition of a particular consonant in the first syllables in a series of words. It is important to know that in alliteration, the sound of the words matter the most. It is extensively used in literature, particularly in poetry. Alliteration is like rhyming words. However, in this case, the words rhyme in the beginning rather than in the end. Alliteration heightens the beauty of the sentence. They look attractive and sophisticated and enhance the style of the sentences. If you know how to use alliteration properly, you can give your prose a poetic fervor. Many phrases like 'do or die', 'save our souls', 'shortcut to success' and the like sounds catchy because of the creative use of alliteration. Alliteration also enlivens the sentence making it fun to read as it introduces rhythm into the prose. In poetry, they are one of the most important styles. However, too much alliteration can literally tie your tongue in a knot. If you have tried reading tongue-twisters fast, you will understand what this means. Excessive use of alliteration can literally spoil the prose or poetry. Given below are a few examples of alliteration to give you a better understanding of what this figure of speech is all about.

Examples Of Alliteration

  • Alice's aunt ate apples and acorns around august.

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

  • Becky's beagle barked and bayed, becoming bothersome for Billy.

  • We felt dreary and dismal in the darkness of the night.

  • Carries cat clawed her couch, creating chaos.

  • She shouted and shooed the sheep to the shelter.

  • Dan's dog dove deep in the dam, drinking dirty water as he dove.

  • She sees sheep sleeping.

  • Show Shawn Sharon's shabby shoes.

  • Fred's friends fried Fritos for Friday's food.

  • Boil the butter and bring it by the bank.

  • Garry's giraffe gobbled gooseberry's greedily, getting good at grabbing goodies.

  • Hannah's home has heat hopefully.

  • Kim comes to cut colorful kites.

  • Baby Bobby bed bounced better by bedtime before Billy bounced.

  • Isaac's ice cream is interesting and Isaac is imbibing it.

  • Paula planted the petunias in the pot.

  • Jesse's jaguar is jumping and jiggling jauntily.

  • Kim's kid's kept kiting.

  • Larry's lizard likes leaping leopards.

  • The dog was dead as a doornail.

  • Mike's microphone made much music.

  • An ape ate Ace's acorn.

  • Cory collected cola cans counting continuously.

  • Orson's owl out-performed ostriches.

  • Bertha Bartholomew blew big, blue bubbles.

  • Peter's piglet pranced priggishly.

  • Zachary zeroed in on zoo keeping.

  • Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings, Leader beloved, and long he ruled in fame with all folk since his father had gone.

  • Quincy's quilters quit quilting quickly.

  • Eric's eagle eats eggs, enjoying each episode of eating.

  • Ralph's reindeer rose rapidly and ran round the room

  • She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down to make a man to meet the mortal need. A man to match the mountains and the sea, the friendly welcome of the wayside well.

  • Sara's seven sisters slept soundly in sand.

  • Larry's lizard likes leaping.

  • How glutted with gore he would guzzle his fill.

  • Tim's took tons of tools to make toys for tots.

  • The sibilant sermons of the snake as she discoursed upon the disposition of my sinner's soul seemed ceaseless.

  • We felt dreary and dismal in the darkness of the night.

  • Uncle Uris' united union uses umbrella's.

  • Behemoth, biggest born of earth, up-heaved His vastness.

  • My style is public negotiations for parity, rather than private negotiations for position.

  • Vivien's very vixen-like and vexing.

  • What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

  • Cunningly creeping, a spectral stalker.

  • Walter walked wearily while wondering where Wally was.

  • Nick's nephew needed a new notebook.

  • Xavier's x-rayed his xylophone.

  • Their taut tails thrashing they twist in tribute to the titans.

  • "Gee, Great Aunt Nellie, why aren't any golden goldfinches going to the goodies?" "Oh," said Aunt Nellie, "They thrive on thistle and I thoroughly thought that I threw the thistle out there". - ('Thank you for the Thistle' by Dorie Thurston)

  • I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet.

  • The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

  • When far away an interrupted cry.

  • Bye, baby bunting, Daddy's gone a-hunting, gone to get a rabbit skin, to wrap baby bunting in.

  • Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade, he bravely breach'd his boiling bloody breast.

  • Zigmund Zane zig-zagged through the zany zoo zone.

  • The pleasant prince pleaded for peace.

  • See Sally sell seashells by the seashore.

  • I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet, when far away an interrupted cry came over houses from another street (From the poem 'Acquainted With the Night' by Robert Frost)

  • Uri Udall usually used his unique, unusual unicycle.

  • Garry gathered the garbage.

  • Through three cheese trees three free fleas flew.

  • Sara's seven sisters slept soundly.

  • While these fleas flew, freezy breeze blew. Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze. Freezy trees made these trees' cheese freeze. That's what made these three free fleas sneeze. - (Dr. Seuss "Fox in sock")

  • Julie Jackson juggled the juicy, jiggly jello.

  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a novel by John Le Carre.

  • Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran.

  • Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet, myriads of rivulets, hurrying through the lawn, the moan of doves in immemorial elms, and murmuring of innumerable bees. - Alfred Tennyson

  • Deep into that darkness peering, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. - Edgar Ellen Poe

Writers and poets employ many literary devices to amp up their writings. And alliteration is one of them. Those who are apt at using this tool surely know how to make their sentences lively and engaging.

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