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Alliteration: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Alliteration
  • 0:49 About Alliteration
  • 1:57 Examples
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Alliteration is a figure of speech used to create rhythm and bring focus to a line or sentence in a piece of written material. Learn about the definition of alliteration, see examples of alliteration and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Alliteration

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Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

She sells seashells down by the seashore.

These are both tongue twisters most people have heard before; however, most people don't know these sayings are examples of a literary term called alliteration, which occurs when a series of words, usually two or more neighboring words, have the same first consonant sound. A consonant is a speech sound that is not a vowel (a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y). The words in the sentence, 'Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,' mostly start with the consonant sound 'p.' Likewise, in, 'She sells seashells down by the seashore,' most consonants start with the letter 's.'

About Alliteration

As we've discussed, alliteration is a figure of speech in which a series of words, usually two or more neighboring words, have the same first consonant sound; however, sometimes repetition of sounds occur inside a word. Alliteration is used primarily in poetry but can be used in various facets of literature as well as song lyrics, names, quotations or any piece of writing.

The purpose of alliteration is to make text stand out and direct the reader's attention to a particular section. Alliteration is commonly used to add interest to a sentence and can be a great way to help you remember names and phrases.

The sounds created by alliteration establish a certain mood, emotion and rhythm in text. For instance, in Dante's Inferno, Dante states: 'I saw it there, but I saw nothing in it, except the rising of the boiling bubbles.' The repetition of the 'b' sound mimics the sounds of bubbling. In the book Some Smug Slug, the 's' sound is used throughout to represent the sliminess and slyness of the slug.

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