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Alliteration: A Literary Technique

Updated on January 12, 2018


One literary technique is alliteration in which the beginning of two or more words next to or near each other are or sound the same.

Look for these examples of alliteration in the following essay:

  • name of the river: Rifle River
  • description of the water's movement: concentric circles
  • description of the trout's environment: sunlit shallows
  • manner in which the author perceives the ducks' sounds: frolicking flamboyance
  • author describing the ducks and their movement: mostly Mallards, marching
  • transition phrase: Eventually the entire camaraderie encompasses
  • description of what the splashing covers: bird's entire body
  • describing the water's surface: shaded surface
  • author's name for the fish: gill-fitted friend
  • author's direct quote: Happy and healthy
  • description of nature's force: inner instinct
  • duck sounds: quacking conversation

Alliteration adds sound emphasis and affects the rhythm of the words in the sentence. The technique can make a piece rich in literary texture, making memorable images.

An Afternoon on the Riverbank: A First-Person Essay

And we will all the pleasures prove . . . --Christopher Marlowe

I sit comfortably on the grassy bank of the Rifle River in Irons Park. Warm sun rays permeate my back as I view the steady water currents splashing over randomly situated rocks. The sound created by the water's constant, rushing movement soothes me.

Leaves don their autumnal colors--gold, red, brown, and pale green. The river's surface near the bank is relatively calm, but I detect a movement causing gentle waves to move outward in parallel, concentric circles. A foot-long trout darts through the sunlit shallows until he is hidden safely beneath a shaded, flora-covered extension secured by a young maple.

Soon the quacking of ducks greets my tympanic membrane with frolicking flamboyance, and, on my right, I witness a flock of about twenty web-footed pedestrians, mostly Mallards, marching across the green toward the river. They plop into the water in an orderly, yet comical fashion. I think this swim must be a late afternoon ritual.

The sound created by the water's constant, rushing movement soothes me.

Eventually the entire camaraderie encompasses a major area in the water at the river's bend. Duck bellies flash white, brown, and gray, topped by two webbed feet. Others content themselves to swim back and forth across the river's breadth. One young bird stretches its neck and plunges its head into the water, which splashes up and over the bird's entire body. Another duck follows suit. One begins flapping its wings enough to nearly lift its whole body out of the river. The entire scene is reminiscent of a theatrical choreography.

The gill-fitted friend departs in smug content.
The gill-fitted friend departs in smug content. | Source

I detect another wave of concentric circles in the shaded surface near the bank. The trout has returned, surfaced, and nipped an insect. The gill-fitted friend departs in smug content.

"Happy and healthy," I say aloud.

I return my attention to the ducks, some exiting onto the bank with a bit of effort. Preening is a major exercise, and I remember that ducks have an oil gland at the base of their tail. They rub their bills on this spot to gather bits of oil that they rub onto their plumage. The oil-coated feathers become waterproof, validating the simile "like water off a duck's back."

A good forty minutes of duck entertainment passes; dusk is settling, and the birds begin their exodus now. Some inner instinct must hold them together as a flock because they have all left the water together, and the web-footed march ends as quickly as it began. The sound of quacking conversation gently fades. Ducks know how to live, I think, as I ponder the delight their presence has given me. Surely this is life at its best--no cost, no worries, just pure joy!

Emotionally fulfilled, I slowly stand and brush the back of my pants. The temperature has dropped, and I feel a slight chill through my fingers and on my nose and cheeks. It is time for me, too, to leave. I can, perhaps, return tomorrow to re-witness the trout's circles on the surface and the ducks' swimming and preening ritual. ***


A Quiz on Alliteration

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© 2012 Marie Flint


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    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I have changed the slant and quiz on this hub article.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a very well written essay Marie and effectively described a peaceful time at the river watching the ducks and trout. The examples of alliteration were a good touch and I enjoyed the quiz. Voted up.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Billy and Aesta, thank you both for commenting.

      This was my first hub and how I like to right best--short, literary essays or vignettes but, for some reason, this type of writing does not do well here on Hub Pages.

      Your comments are inspirational. Perhaps I will try doing a few more of this type to exhibit other literary techniques.

      Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love rivers as well and could spend time just looking at it. We live on the lake and there is so much activity there especially in the summer when most of the residents are back. How beautifully you described your ay there and thanks for the bonus on alliteration.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This should be required reading for anyone considering creative writing as a hobby or pursuing it as a passion. So well done, from the alliteration to the calling upon of your senses to paint a picture. Nice...very nice...job, Marie!

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I wish to thank Kenneth Avery for visiting and commenting on this hub. In part, his message stated, "You are such a talent . . ." Thank you for the compliment, Ken. I appreciate this favorable expression. Blessings!

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I apologize, ahorseback, if you feel I overlooked your comment. I didn't and agree that sharing such an experience with a loved one greatly heightens the experience that nature offers.

      I suppose I could do a whole piece on your "age old fantasy," but I'd probably get flagged to Hub Pages' staff monitors. --Blessings!

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 4 years ago

      I know Marie , You don't know how to comment on my comment , LOL, I do love the poetry ! That's why I'm here !.......++++

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Jayne and Shyron, thank you so much for stopping by to read this little essay. Your comments mean so much. It's really nice to finally get a few readers on this. I am especially grateful to each of you for sharing it. Perhaps I'll attempt a similar piece in the near future.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago from Texas

      Marie, beautiful and interesting and voted up, beautiful, interesting and shared.

      I loved the quiz at the end to find out if the hub was read.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I love alliteration and sometimes use it unconsciously (until I re-read what I've written). It not only adds texture to writing, but often conjurs up sensory memories that add to the reading experience, especially when the material is--like your essay--about nature.

      Voted Up, Awesome and Beautiful/Shared


    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Thank you, JPSO138. This was my first posted hub. I have edited the layout and re-edited it. The part on alliteration was an idea that came to me fairly recently. Literary techniques are a craft and probably my favorite part of writing.

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      Yes, I totally enjoyed what I read as well as the pictures you have provided and the short lesson at the end. Up for this hub definitely awesome!

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 4 years ago

      The only thing better .....wrapping around a lover on this river bank !

      An age old fantasy of mine .

    • profile image

      folie 5 years ago

      amazingly written! i enjoyed it greatly :)

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 5 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I wrote this essay for an online class. I hope all who read it enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing about the experience.