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All About Alliteration

Updated on August 5, 2012
Alliteration, like this tongue twister, makes use of repeated letter sounds as a literary device.
Alliteration, like this tongue twister, makes use of repeated letter sounds as a literary device. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

As writers, we have all kinds of literary devices available for drawing in a reading audience, and hopefully keeping them reading clear to the end. One of those literary devices is called alliteration.

What Is Alliteration?

Alliteration involves repeating the same, or similar, sounds at the beginning of multiple words, or in the stressed syllables of several words placed together or in close proximity. As an example, the title of this article "Al About Alliteration" or the tongue twister, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

How Alliteration Fits Into the Grammar Lesson

Alliteration is used in everything from titles and tongue twisters to poetry, song lyrics, and brand names. The main requirement is that the repeated sound occurs in words that are paled together (All About Alliteration) or in nearly consecutive succession notice the wording of Peter Piper tongue twister, there are a few words that don't use the "P" sound and puts a few brief breaks into the alliteration pattern:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

A peck of pickled peppers, Peter Piper picked.

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

The second main point about alliteration is that it falls into two categories, assonance and consonance. Most alliterations nowadays are of the consonance variet, meaning they are based on words beginning with or emphasizing a consonant sound (Peter Piper). However, assonance alliterations, which are based on vowel sounds, are still used with some regularity (All About Alliteration).

How to Use Alliteration

Alliteration can be used in many areas including writing:

1. It makes great catchy titles for articles, books (anything Dr. Seuss), movies (The Pirates of Penzance, Dirty Dancing, Captains Courageous) , TV shows (The Wide World of Sports, How I Met Your Mother), and electronic games (Prince of Persia) to name a few.

2. It also helps the flow and adds interest to sentences - Alice added apples to the pork pror to popping it into the oven.

3. It is frequently used in poetry.

4. Many famous people have had names that could be considered alliterations (Alan Alda, Captain Kangaroo, Roy Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Susan Sarandon, Loretta Lynn, Priscilla Presley, Lucy Liu, Lucy Lawless, Rene Russo, January Jones).

5. It is used frequently in news headlines and news column titles, as a means of attracting an audience to find out what happened.

6. It is used for store names - Best Buy, Circuit City, Piercing Pagoda, Past and Presents, or Bed, Bath and Beyond.

7. Sports teams are frequently names that make use of alliteration: Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Pirates, or the University of Houston Cougars (the "ou" in Houston and Cougars becomes the alliteration).


American Heritage Dictionary. Alliteration.

Your Dictionary. Alliteration Examples.

Outstanding Writing. Alliteration.

Wikipedia. Alliteration.


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    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      These are great names to add to the list. They do roll rather nicely off the tongue, don't they.

    • profile image

      trielesstraveler 5 years ago

      Alliteration is so fun, I hadn't realized so many actors has alliterated names. Voted up. Marilyn Manson, Michael Moore, Mickey Mouse, roll nicely off your tongue .The list goes on and on.

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      I know. I'm the same way.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I love alliteration and must guard myself not to "go crazy" and use it too much in ordinary prose.

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      Thanks sweethearts2.

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      You are welcom SidKemp. Yes, alliteration is still alive and well - and useful.

    • sweethearts2 profile image

      sweethearts2 5 years ago from Northwest Indiana

      Informative and Intriguing. Voted interesting, useful and up.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, this is a fun read. I particularly liked the list of famous people. I was introduced to alliteration through Old English verse, which used alliteration on 3 stressed words out of 4 per line, with no rhyme scheme. Glad it's still around!