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Alliteration Definition & Meaning


It is a figure in which the same sound, letter or syllable  is repeated in a sequence of nearby words.

The term ', explains Abrams ' is usually applied only to consonants,  and only when the recurrent sound occurs in a conspicuous position at the beginning of a word or of a stressed syllable within a word'. This consists,  Nesfield remarks,  'in the repetition of the same letter or syllable at the beginning of two or more words. A.F. Scott is of the view that ' this device is the close repetition,  not of the same letter,  bur of the same sound,  usually at the beginning of Words. All these show that  there is divergence of Opinion as regards the definition of this figure. 

Interpretation 

Alliteration  brings a sensuous pleasure to the ear. Though repetition of the same sound or letter it also makes a line emphatic. In this figure sometimes a sound may be repeated, e.g..,with blade, with body bloody blameful blade' Sometimes,  again,  a letter may be repeated,  e.g., 'After life's fitful ever'. Family,  we may notice also the repetition of a syllable,  e.g., 'unwept,  unhonoured, unsung '(Scott)

The chief characteristics of Alliteration are given below:

(i) There is a repetition 

( ii ) It is either about a sound,  or a letter,  or a syllable used in words

(iii) This recurrence takes place in a sequence of nearby words

It is to be noted that some authorities have tried to distinguished Alliteration from its close allies - Consonance and Assonance.  Consonance is the repetition of a sequence of consonants,  but with a change in the intervening stressed vowel : live-love,  lean- alone,  pitter-patter.  Assonance on the other hand,  consists in ' the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds- especially in stressed syllables in a sequence of nearby words,  e.g., the long 'i' sound in the following :

Thou foster child of silence and slow time (Keats)

Example :

A fair field full of folk (Langland)

Apt Alliteration's artful aid (C.Churchill) 

A strong  man struggling with the storms of fate ( Addison)


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