Literary Devices: Meanings and Examples

Literary Devices

The English language comprises many literary devices that add richness and life to phrases and expressions. In our daily lives we encounter literary devices in poems, stories, newspapers, plays, songs, movies and even in our very own conversations.

This article defines the most common literary devices, and gives examples of each.



An allegory is a device used to represent an idea, principle or meaning, which can be presented in literary form, such as a poem or novel; or in a visual form such as a painting or drawing.

As a literary device, an allegory is defined as an “extended metaphor”, or “symbolic representation”. Very often an allegoric story or play illustrates an idea or moral principle in which objects take on symbolic meaning.

Allegory example
Allegory example


Alliteration is the repetition of the first syllables of a series of words and/ or phrases. Modern alliteration is predominantly consonantal.

Alliteration can be broken down into two groups:


Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds but not consonant sounds.

Assonance example
Assonance example


Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds by not vowel sounds.

Consonance definition
Consonance definition


An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, representation of a place, historical event, literary work, myth, or work of art. Allusions can be direct references or implications.

Allusion example
Allusion example

In the first example above, the sentence alludes to Achilles, the warrior of Greek mythology, who could only be harmed if something hit his heel. (i.e. Achilles’ only weakness was his heel)


An analogy is a comparison that is made between two things that are in some way/ ways similar. An analogy is often used to help explain something or make it easier to understand

Analogy example
Analogy example


The turning point of the action in a story, play or plot is referred to as the climax.

The climax represents the point at which the story gets exciting and more alive. In some stories there may be several points that can be arguably called the climatic points.

Climax example
Climax example


A hyperbole is a figure of speech in which an overstatement or exaggeration occurs.

Often used in poetry or in casual speech, hyperboles are usually used to create emphasis or effect.

Hyperbole example
Hyperbole example


Irony is incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

Verbal Irony

Ironic statements (verbal irony) typically imply a meaning that is opposite to the literal meaning.

Sarcasm is a form of verbal irony.

Verbal irony example
Verbal irony example

Situational Irony

A situation is ironic if actions taken have an effect exactly opposite from what was intended or expected.

Situational irony example
Situational irony example


A metaphor is a comparison in which one thing is said to be another. The words “like” and “as” are not used in metaphors.

Metaphor example
Metaphor example


Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word that imitates or suggests the sound that it represents.

Onomatoepia example
Onomatoepia example


An oxymoron is figure of speech that combines contradictory terms.

Oxymoron example
Oxymoron example


Personification is a figure of speech where something nonhuman is given the characteristics of a human.

Personification example
Personification example

PUN (also called PARANOMASIA)

A pun is a play on words wherein one word is used to convey two meanings at the same time. Puns are often intended for a humorous or rhetorical effect.

Pun example
Pun example


A simile is a figure of speech that compares two unlike quantities by employing the words “like”, “as”, or “than”.

Simile example
Simile example

The following video illustrates excellent examples of literary devices that can be found in songs.

More by this Author

Comments 87 comments

angel 5 years ago

thanks a lot it will help me in my homework :)

pinkz 5 years ago

thanks 4 the info!! its a lot of help... =p

anki 4 years ago

osum this helped me a lot for my exams this is excellent,fantastic

Aryayash 4 years ago

This has helped me a lot 4 making charts. Thanks :)

gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

You're most welcome Aryayash!

bhavani 4 years ago

a good colectoin u have saved me by 20 marks

gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

Glad I can help. :)

vedasree 4 years ago

wov its great it has helped me a lot , i like it thanks.

gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

Vedasree: I am happy to be able to assist. Take care.

julius 4 years ago

with ur help, all is well

norman55 4 years ago


JAMYCA RUSO 4 years ago

wow its great it has help me a lot.....i have now an assignment... :))

David Onyekwere 4 years ago

this is really useful and i think it will help me pass my exam.thanks

namgay 4 years ago

ha that's helping hand.

rekha 4 years ago

thanksalot . saved a lot of time

Volina 4 years ago

Thank you so much!

gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

I am glad to be able to help Volina! You're welcome.

ItsGiYo! 4 years ago

Awesome info.. definition and examples. Thanks Alot!

noma 4 years ago

thnks thts rily helpful

hil ^nen 4 years ago

t thanks dis helped me on lit hw !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :p PE@CE OUT #$$$$%%^^&*()

gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

I am happy to help :)

Nakul Ghate 4 years ago

thank you for helping me!!!!!

Chanel 4 years ago

Thanks for the meanings info!! I hope I can do well in my literature paper later!!!

Chanel 4 years ago

Thanks for the meanings info!! I hope I can do well in my literature paper later!!!

A.J. Hedrick 4 years ago

OMG that helped me soooooo much i only had 1 day to finsh a 1 month projest and this was the best article i found!

fady 4 years ago

thanks a lot , you are really so helpful ,thanks a lot

cupcake 4 years ago

i love this place thx alout

Fz 4 years ago

thankzz alot ........!

impossible 4 years ago

thanks got an A+ on literature paper

noemi 4 years ago

cool thx

gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

You're most welcome everyone! Always glad to help!

PPPMMM 4 years ago

Thank you very much! It was extremely helpful!

runner 4 years ago

thnku fr pstin it. It helpd me a lot in my txtlogs:)PEACE

meghna 4 years ago


gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

You're welcomed everyone! Happy to help! 4 years ago

-- thanks a lot.............

bhavya 4 years ago

thank you very much it helped me a lot in my english exhibition

tonka 4 years ago


anonymous 4 years ago

really good article

gis_r07 profile image

gis_r07 4 years ago from Boston, MA Author

I really appreciate the feedback. Knowing that I can help means a lot!

ameezaj ibrahim 4 years ago

I am so thankful to you

amanda 4 years ago

hey nice poem

cidy 4 years ago

it did not help me at all

thandiwe 4 years ago

Thank u so so mch!!!t rily helpd m

meralda 4 years ago really helped me

meralda 4 years ago really helped me

Tina 4 years ago


Chase 4 years ago

god bless

Thechosenone 4 years ago

Thanks this really helps no I'm not being ironic

A.f 4 years ago


Kamran 4 years ago


Eliza 4 years ago

Thank you for the information. It was reallly appreciated.

rodeo girl 4 years ago

thank you so so much, this helped me with my book report (in 8th grade) ! i really appreciate your help! god bless

Shaba Rankin 4 years ago

This was very informative. Thanks. :)

ronelyn paradero 4 years ago


Anthony 4 years ago

Thanks for the help

Josh 3 years ago

I have trouble understanding literary devices. Thanks for the explanations.

tanisha 3 years ago

Cool!it has helped me in my exams and I hope I get good marks.

mary nutsutse 3 years ago

thanks for your help

ajwrites57 profile image

ajwrites57 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

Enjoyed reviewing these literary devices. Useful to enhance any writers works! Thanks! :o)

Jizzie 3 years ago

This was super helpful although i didn't get everything i needed.

Thanks a lot tho! this was a huge help to me.

ruvindya 3 years ago

Wow.this was very helpful. I love that very much.

ruvindya 3 years ago

thanks a lot. you saved. my time.

Shay 3 years ago

This helped me study for a test , thanks so much (:

madonna 3 years ago

thanks alot! Need more literary devices.

Fuck nut 3 years ago


sherrida baksh 3 years ago

this was so helpful .....thanks alot!!!!

akliya 3 years ago


Ivy 3 years ago

Thanks. Really needed these meanings.

Nishu 3 years ago

Thank's,It really helped me.

Dheeaj kumar 3 years ago


gurpreet 3 years ago

thanks a lot it helped me in my homework.

ronnette 3 years ago

yes i have now assignment in english

Joyette  Fabien profile image

Joyette Fabien 3 years ago from Dominica

Wow! This is absolutely awesome! It's not only about the information you presented - which is great, of course - but the concise manner of presentation and the attractive layout. How do you get to use borders and background colors on Hubpages?

Voted up and beautiful!

Karlouis 3 years ago

this is perfect

georgia wright 3 years ago

need to add more devices only help me a bit

megha 3 years ago

such a bad site

nain 3 years ago

jst sprbbbbbbbbbb

miclady 2 years ago

impressive...just get on this page...really awesome and supportive materials

Rehanna 2 years ago


muskan 2 years ago


tracey 2 years ago

thanks for the information i really needed it.

Epsa 22 months ago

Dear Webmaster,

I am the Marketing Manager of

I was looking at your web site and saw that your site is related to our site. Our site have also quality content and huge resource but we need some outreach link. so we would like to get a link in our site from yours. If you redirect our site link from your any related keywords then it will be also helpful for your site.We can pay you some $ also for this. I will wait for your reply .



Marketing Manager

jyoti 20 months ago

My teacher gives me an assignment for FA2 in holidays

I want to say that it's very good 16 months ago

thnx guys it helped me alot......dhanyavad again

Izzah 12 months ago

This was soon helpful!! thank you so much!

srishti 4 months ago

Thanks it helped me a lot.........thanks again

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article